University hockey team in the works in Nanaimo

A group called VIU Hockey Inc. is working to bring a university men’s club team to Nanaimo in time for the 2017-18 season.

A group called VIU Hockey Inc. is working to try to start up a university team in Nanaimo that would play in the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League.

A group called VIU Hockey Inc. is working to try to start up a university team in Nanaimo that would play in the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League.

Mariners teams compete on the court, on the pitch, on the links and at the ballpark. Maybe next year they’ll compete on the ice, too.

A group called VIU Hockey Inc. is working to bring a university men’s club team to Nanaimo in time for the 2017-18 season.

“I love hockey and I love all levels of hockey,” said Myles Parsons, the group’s chairman.

The Mariners team would play in the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League, currently a five-team circuit with Simon Fraser University, UVic, Trinity Western, Selkirk College in Castlegar, B.C. and Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Wash.

“In the league, they’ve got anything from [former pro players] down to major junior, to junior B,” Parsons said. “It’s a good calibre of hockey.”

He said just through word of mouth, more than half dozen young men in the area have expressed interest in VIU hockey. The Mariners program would be pay to play, with fees in the neighbourhood of $1,500 for a 24-game season.

Parsons has had conversations about ice time with other user groups and said Nanaimo’s hockey community supports the Mariners’ efforts. He envisions home games on Friday and Saturday nights, with occasional midweek games against UVic.

Steve Paul has volunteered to be the coach and general manager of the team. He said the hockey club will hold appeal for certain players. He noted that with other post-secondary leagues in Canada and the U.S., there are strict academic eligibility rules, whereas VIU hockey players could be guys in trades certificate programs, for example.

“They’re not going to be traded, they’re not going to be screamed and yelled at; they’re going to have some fun playing hockey,” said Paul. “There’ll definitely be a huge competitiveness, but they know that it’s not their life … We’re looking for some young men that are keen with getting on with their lives and using hockey as a tool.”

Club teams – currently baseball and rugby – are separate from Vancouver Island University’s core high-performance teams, but Carrie Chassels, VIU’s executive director of student affairs, said the athletic department is looking at strengthening the structure of the school’s club sports to help them succeed. She said the people behind VIU hockey are enthusiastic and committed.

“It can be a really exciting venture for the university and the community,” Chassels said. “I think there will be a lot of excitement in the hockey rink when the Mariners hockey team is playing.”

The VIU Foundation has offered to support Mariners hockey by matching any gifts to the club, up to a total of $10,000, from now until Nov. 29 as part of a Giving Tuesday campaign. To donate, please visit http://bit.ly/VIUGives or call David Forrester, VIU’s advancement manager, alumni relations, at 250-740-6214.

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