A junior hockey team with an eye-catching name in B.C.’s Southern Interior has a new owner: a family doctor.
This week, the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League announced that the Grand Forks Border Bruins had been sold to local physician Dr. Mark Szynkaruk.
The junior-B team had previously been community-owned by the Grand Forks Border Bruins Association.
“We’re very pleased to welcome Dr. Szynkaruk to the KIJHL and are excited by his plans for the franchise,” said KIJHL commissioner Jeff Dubois.
“We’re also very appreciative of the efforts of the executive and members of the Border Bruins society, who have been tremendous stewards for the club over many years.”
According to the league, Szynkaruk, from Komoka, Ont., moved to Grand Forks in 2017 and wound up taking over the family practice a year later.
Over time, he became interested in the local junior team and felt private ownership could make the team more competitive.
According to the KIJHL, the Border Bruins have been the league’s only continuous member since joining in 1969.
“It comes with an immense amount of pride to be involved with something that has been run successfully for that long,” said Szynkaruk.
“The team means a great deal for the community, so as somebody who’s immersed in the well-being of folks in town I think this investment to make the on-ice product the best possible in junior-B is wonderful to be part of.”
Szynkaruk says he plans to reinvest all profits back into the team for further success.
“Once players see the level of investment we’re going to put into them, not only on the ice, but also off of it as well, I think we’re going to start attracting really good players,” said Szynkaruk.
He added that every player who has graduated from high school will be expected to take at least one course at a university or nearby Selkirk College, with their tuition being paid by the organization.
“We want to bring in the best players and people,” said Szynkaruk. “We want to develop them and move them through the pipeline whether that’s going to the NCAA or junior-A; that’s the vision I’m setting forth.”