There's going to be a new person at the helm when the puck drops on the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League in September.
Longtime KIJHL president Bill Ohlhausen has decided to step down as President of the 20-team Junior B Hockey League. Ohlhausen, who has been at the helm of the interior league for the past 17 years, made the annoucement during the KIJHL/BC Hockey AGM this past weekend at Sun Peaks Resort near Kamloops.
"Mr. Ohlhausen leadership has guided the junior league for 17 years of steady growth and the board of directors would like to thank Bill for his dedicated service and commitment to the league," the KIJHL said in an email statement Wednesday.
"Bill and wife Mary have been at the helm and guided the league to be one of the top development junior hockey leagues in Canada with 20 teams competing in the southern BC interior. Many players have moved to Jr A, Major Jr, Collegiate and professional hockey ranks."
Taking over for Ohlhausen is Larry Martel from West Kelowna, who was elected President until the Board completes a leadership re-organization. Martel, formerly of Nelson, held positions with Nelson Minor Hockey and Nelson Baseball Association.
Martel said the Board of Directors will look to restructure its leadership this summer and hope to announce a new leadership model sometime in the upcoming season.
"We started the governance and leadership re-structuring last fall We brought in expert Bill Reid from Nelson to help start the process," Martel explained.
"The KIJHL has had a volunteer position for the past 51 years but the league has grown too big and there are many moving parts for this to be a volunteer position."
Martel said the KIJHL is ooking at a Commissioner type position with different responsibilities from what the league is doing today.
"We are looking at other sports and charity organizations for a template that might work for us," he said. "Barry Petrachenko is the president for BC Hockey and is very interested in helping the KIJHL set up this new leadership model. Mr. Petrachenko has experience with many minor and Junior hockey associations across Canada. He has watched the changes with what our own BCHL hockey league has gone through. We can learn from other Junior Hockey leagues."
Martel said the goal is to have this process set up by October 2018.
The KIJHL also announced the retirement of John Surovy who has been the league’s Secretary /Treasurer since 2002. Surovy's valuable guidance has kept the league in a strong financial position for 16 years. Kathy Merkel from Kimberley will assume the Secretary/Treasurer
All 20 teams are expected back for the upcoming season as teams look to dethrone current champion Kimberley Dynamiters as KIJHL Champs.
The Nelson Leafs begin quest for the KIJHL title when the Green and White August 10-13 at the NDCC Arena.