When the Kelowna Chiefs step on the ice this season, they’ll be without the heart and soul of the franchise.
The recent death of team president and general manager Grant Sheridan has left the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League team in mourning.
“Unfortunately, when we were in the third round of the playoffs in Revelstoke, he contracted bacterial menengitis and never fully recovered from it,” said team spokesperson Alex Draper.
“You don’t fill those shoes . . . you can’t. You just honour him every time you step on the ice.”
The Chiefs plan on doing exactly that at their home opener, Friday, Sept. 20 at Rutland Arena.
“I know there is not going to be a dry eye in the house,” Draper said.
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The KIJHL will also celebrate Sheridan’s legacy by having every player place a sticker, with the initials GS, on their helmets.
The Chiefs will also offer GS stickers for sale to the public, with the proceeds going Braintrust, Sheridan’s favourite charity.
Last season, the Chiefs’ league-leading record was an incredible 44 wins and 3 losses — a record that will be hard to improve upon this season.
“We are going to be a little bit younger this year and missing some key pieces in Brody Dale and Devon Sutton,” said Chiefs coach Ken Law.
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But so far, Law has liked what he has seen at training camp.
In particular, 16-year-old Prince George blueliner Ethan Porter.
“He is a real gritty kid who likes to compete,” Law said.
This season, if the Chiefs can manage the proper paperwork, the squad may feature a European flavour.
“From Finland,” Chiefs prospect Leo Harju said in regards to where he hails from.
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The 17-year-old Finnish flash is in Canada to study.
Harju speaks little English, but is fluent in hockey and his skating sets him apart from most Chiefs prospects.
Harju came to camp a walk-on. However, if Hockey Canada approves a transfer, chances are he’ll earn a roster spot.
But regardless of who takes to the ice this season, the team has one goal.
“Do our best to win the Cyclone Taylor Cup for Grant,” Draper said.