By Andrew Mitchell
The future of the World Hockey Association Corp., and all six teams in the fledgling Junior West Hockey League, is on thin ice after accusations of financial mismanagement and a lawsuit by a Vancouver investment firm. That includes the Squamish Cougars organization, which played its first home game at Brennan Park last September.
The WHAC, also based in Vancouver, is vigorously denying all allegations of mismanagement and denies owing any money to Global Developments Incorporated. Still, it’s clear the league is in financial difficulty, given the fact that its stock dropped to less than a penny, from $2 in June 2006. The town of Osoyoos also terminated its deal with the WHAC after the league failed to pay for $11,000 in ice time, according to The Globe and Mail.
The league also jump-started the playoffs by several weeks, pitting the New Westminster Whalers against the Lumby Saints. The Squamish Cougars, sitting in third place just points back of a playoff spot, were forced to concede the season last week.
Cougars coach Matt Samson has been told that the Cougars will be back next year, and has yet to hear otherwise.
“We’ll have to see what comes out of the stock market stuff, but I’m not involved in that,” he said.
As for the Cougars’ season ending early he said the team was disappointed but that his players should hold their heads high. “It’s always a disappointment to miss a few weeks of a season, but we had a really good run at it and some players got some good exposure this season and are in talks with Junior A coaches.”
The players being looked at are Ross Pattison and Nils Hanfstingli, while other players have been invited to participate in Junior A tryouts. Whistler’s Troy McLean, the captain and top scorer of the team, will be too old next year for Junior hockey but still has the option of playing varsity hockey in Canada or the U.S.
Squamish had a last chance of making the playoffs, meeting the Whalers in a best-of-three series, losing the first game after leading 3-1 in the first period and then by 4-2 in the second game. At press-time Lumby and the Whalers were tied at one game apiece.
According to Squamish Mayor Ian Sutherland, the Cougars are not behind in payments after paying for January’s ice time. February ice time will be billed in March.
As far as he is concerned, he would like to see the Cougars stay in town if the league makes it to next season.