Birth of the Coyotes in the South Okanagan
The Canadian Desert is small, but very hot, dry and apparently tough on junior hockey teams. However, there is one creature which has existed there long before man — an animal that survives by scavenging for food, playing games with seemingly no worries in the world and claiming this arid territory as its own. This resourceful mammal knows its place in the scheme of life and is comfortable fitting into the ecosystem. Coyotes are loved by some and hated by others!
Osoyoos Junior Hockey Inc. chose the coyote as a nickname because of the survival skills demonstrated by this amazing animal and its abundance in the area. For junior hockey to succeed in the South Okanagan, the organization needs to fit into the economic ecosystem, be humble and realistic in expectations and work like a dog to make the region a permanent home.
Junior hockey came to the South Okanagan back in 1996/1997 in the form of the Osoyoos Rebels. The team was the vision of a Castlegar businessman, but after only one season was unable to continue. A local group of hockey enthusiasts kept the KIJHL brand of junior hockey alive by forming a non-profit society which operated the club under the name of the Osoyoos Heat, with Head Coach Claude Power at the helm. In just its first season of existence, the Heat became the Neil Murdoch Champions and went all the way to the league final before losing to the Eddie Mountain Champion Revelstoke Grizzlies. The team played three seasons before private ownership once more took over the reins. The very next year, 2001/2002, local resident Barry Dewar became owner and renamed the club the Osoyoos Storm. The Storm enjoyed a great degree of success, primarily under Head Coach Jimmy Liebel, capturing the Cyclone Taylor Cup (BC Championship) and Keystone Cup (Western Canadian Championship) in 2004/2005, before relocating to Kamloops the following season. Since that time, the South Okanagan had not enjoyed KIJHL Junior Hockey — until now!
Over the years, many exciting and successful players have passed through the doors of the Osoyoos Junior Hockey Club, regardless of team name or ownership. These boys have provided local residents with both thrills and heartbreak, but above all, the fans have been thoroughly entertained. Ask any resident and he or she will tell you that during the fall and winter months, Hockey Is King in the South Okanagan Desert. There are numerous great memories for so many people. Fans have seen the likes of Rob Plester, Justin Bourne, Ryan Lang, Neil Ferreira, David Wood, Chuck Kobasew, Tyler Liebel, Derek Ruck, Jeff Taylor and Tyler Seidler, just to name a few, play at Osoyoos Sun Bowl and Oliver Arenas. Young minor hockey players are encouraged to suit up and have goals because of these outstanding mentors.
Fast forward to today’s team — the Osoyoos Coyotes.
In the fall of 2008, a small group interested in bringing KIJHL junior hockey back to the South Okanagan began to build. The contingent was comprised of the Osoyoos Rebels original Marketing Director, John Kapusty, local radio personality and Osoyoos Heat ‘play-by-play’ announcer, Randy Bedard and past professional and collegiate goaltending standout at the University of Wisconsin, Roy Schultz. The group was unanimously approved by the KIJHL Board of Governors in April of 2009 and the newest edition of the Osoyoos franchise had begun.
Randy Bedard became the sole proprietor of the Osoyoos Coyotes Junior Hockey Club in April of 2012.
Our goal is to provide exciting junior hockey to everyone who calls the South Okanagan home — residents of Osoyoos, Oliver, Oroville, Cawston, Keremeos, Willowbrook, Bridesville, Rock Creek and every locale between. The team also offers local players a place to play junior hockey without having to leave home, as well as a springboard to higher calibre hockey opportunities. It is the realization that having a junior club is also important to the South Okanagan Minor Hockey Association in that it encourages young players to aspire to further develop their skills, provides role models for young athletes and supports local minor hockey initiatives.
The ‘Yotes continue to move like the wind, demonstrate a hard working, survivor instinct and feed on visiting teams.
Enjoy your Coyote experience and howl with your local heroes!