The ink is barely dry on the Kootenay Ice moving from Cranbrook to Winnipeg.

The WHL club made the announcement to transfer to the Manitoba capital after the franchise was floundering on the ice and in the stands over the past several seasons.

With the move now done, a couple of Cranbrook-based groups have approached the BCHL about a possible Junior A franchise coming back to the Kootenays.

The BCHL talked more about the possibility at the recently wrapped up Board of Governors meeting where Prince George Spruce Kings General Manager Mike Hawes participated.

In an interview with My PG Now, Hawes believes the market could prove to be a major plus for the league.

“Two groups have approached the league about a possible expansion franchise into Cranbrook now that the Kootenay Ice have confirmed they are leaving. It would be a good market for our league as it is a good hockey area of the province and it would be a good area for our league to explore.”

Cranbrook has been home to a very solid Colts program, which spent time in both the Junior A and B rankings.

The Colts proved to be a formidable foe where they captured the Kootenay International Hockey League title on eleven occasions between 1972 and 1987 where they also hoisted the Cyclone Taylor Cup six times during that same span.

From there, the Colts then made the jump to the now-defunct Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League where the team didn’t skip a beat winning three league titles between 1995 and 1998.

Hawes states some neighboring communities that also host Junior B teams could also be an attractive option down the road.

“There are also some other groups in that area within the Kootenay International League that could potentially be good markets for us in the future with Nelson and Fernie coming to mind.”

Expansion would be the preferred method of choice when it comes to possibly getting a team in Cranbrook as the BCHL doesn’t want to move any current franchise from their respective market.

“As a league, we work hard to support our teams in the communities they are in. It’s no secret that some teams in our league do better than others within their community as some potential exists for relocation but I think preferably it would be nice to have an expansion franchise into that area.”

“I think that would be the best fit.”

Hawes also points out there is absolutely zero chance the Spruce Kings would entertain a move to the Kootenay region.

“Absolutely not. We are one of the most stable franchises in the league, we do well on and off the ice as you know and on top of that, we are one of the most respected franchises in the BCHL right and the league is extremely happy right now with the Prince George Spruce Kings.”