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OK College hockey Coyotes are extinct

Press release from the Okanagan College Coyotes

The Okanagan College Coyotes men’s hockey program has notified the British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League that the team is ceasing operations, effective immediately, following recent funding cutbacks at Okanagan College and a choice by the College not to support the hockey program.

Okanagan College and the Coyotes struck an agreement in 2009, which would allow the hockey team to compete as a club with the use of the College name. The Coyotes management envisioned increased support from the College once the program could prove its worth and experience some success.  The hope was OC would eventually support athletics and provide some financial backing. Unfortunately the club was never backed as hoped, ultimately leading to the end of the program.

The Okanagan College could not justify supporting the Coyote hockey program despite numerous successes, significant tuition contributions and added benefits to student life at the College. The decision by the College has disappointed many and left the BCIHL in a tough position for the upcoming season. The league will now operate with six teams in the 2012/13 season with one of its key members no longer participating. 

“Okanagan College was a valued and competitive member of the BCIHL and will be missed greatly,” says league president Kim Verigin. “They put forward a very competitive team right from their first season. It will be a big change for the league and it's very unfortunate these things happen in the hockey business. It's important to recognize the team management, particularly general manager Kolby Barnstable, Kelly Loudoun and head coach Kim Barnstable, for their hard work and dedication over the past three seasons.”

The Coyotes entered the BCIHL in 2009 and compiled a record of 40-25-9 during regular season play. The team qualified for the playoffs each of their three seasons, advancing to the league semi-finals twice in three years.

"It’s very disappointing to see the Coyotes program come to an end after three successful seasons," says General Manager Kolby Barnstable. "A great amount of time and effort was invested in the start-up and growth of this team. This was extremely tough news to deliver to our players. Everyone that was involved had a passion and believed in the value of this program." 

Okanagan College players collected a number of individual awards and honors over the past three years and recently saw their first player – 2011/12 team captain Dave Mann – sign a professional contract. 

"I’m very disappointed to see this program come to an end," says head coach Kim Barnstable, who was named the 2012 BCIHL Coach of the Year. "I feel strongly that there is a need for this type of collegiate team in the Okanagan. It fills a void for hockey players making the transition into academics and life in the community and I’m upset for the current and future players who will no longer have an opportunity to experience that in Kelowna."

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