Wayne March takes a look back at his time as general manager of the Sicamous Eagles. He was replaced as GM earlier this year and will be stepping down as manager of Sicamous and District Rec Centre over the summer. (Jim Elliot-Eagle Valley News)

Wayne March takes a look back at his time as general manager of the Sicamous Eagles. He was replaced as GM earlier this year and will be stepping down as manager of Sicamous and District Rec Centre over the summer. (Jim Elliot-Eagle Valley News)

Backbone of Sicamous Eagles reflects on 26 years of Junior B

Wayne March says he will miss the team’s people and the game’s toughness

The walls of Wayne March’s office overlooking the ice at the Sicamous and District Rec Centre are hung with jerseys, photographs and other memorabilia commemorating a long career and deep roots in the world of hockey.

From there, March oversaw the Sicamous Eagles Junior B team for 26 years.

March was the Eagles’ general manager from the team’s founding in 1994 and remains the manager of the arena where they play their home games. He was replaced as GM in early 2021.

After forming under March’s direction, the Eagles took a running start, winning the KIJHL championship in their first season and finishing as a close runner-up the following year. March said Sicamous saw a lot of great players come through the doors in the early days, partially because there were fewer junior teams vying for the top talent. He said at one time the Eagles’ selection camp would draw as many as 140 players.

March said recruiting fresh faces to the roster and training them up with the help of good coaches was essential, especially after winning seasons when the team’s best players were often picked up by higher leagues. He mentioned Blair Robinson, who coached the team for 18 years.

Read More: IOC and China make COVID-19 vaccine deal for Tokyo, Beijing Olympians

Read More: New map details potential environmental threats from B.C. mines

March reflected with pride on players like Shea Weber, Cody Franson and Deryk Engelland, who went on to the NHL after spending some time with an Eagles jersey on their back, and also players who found hockey opened doors to university and other opportunities. March said he still enjoys keeping in touch with past players, particularly those like Weber and Franson, whose families still live in the Sicamous area.

March recalls Weber was 15 or 16 years old when he was on the Eagles KIJHL-winning roster for the 2001/02 season. March said like other Eagles who went on to play professionally, his skill on the ice was immediately obvious. The leadership skills which led Weber to captain the Nashville Predators and Montreal Canadians in the NHL were still early in their development, and March described him as ‘young and a little nervous’, despite impressive on-ice performances with the Sicamous squad.

Weber, who is currently in the midst of his 16th NHL season, wished the outgoing GM and his former Junior B team all the best.

“I have known Wayne March for a long time growing up in Sicamous and also from my time with the Sicamous Eagles. Wayne has had a great impact on the community and on the team itself,” Weber said.

March said a lot has changed about Sicamous, The Eagles and the game of hockey.

In earlier years, March said fans would pack the stands for Eagles home games. Due to a more seasonal population in Sicamous, which March chalked up to the loss of local industries, the Eagles are happy when averaging 100 fans on the wooden bleachers overlooking the ice. March said the fans that do show are mainly die-hard regulars. The energy in the building can still be electric, especially when longtime rivals the Revelstoke Grizzlies make the trip to Sicamous.

Read More: Interior Health expands substance use treatment with new teams

Read More: ‘Long COVID’: How a B.C. man is dealing with the effects of the virus one year later

March said the character of junior hockey has also changed. He recalled a time when looser rules led to a more physical game and the players on his rosters wore split lips and broken noses with pride.

“All they want now is kids who can figure skate and play hockey at the same time,” March joked.

With pride in his eyes, March recounted one away game in the 90s when Rene Roy, a young forward, had to lay in the aisle of the bus on the way to the game due to severe back pain but still suited up to play all three periods when the time came. March was sure to mention the young man’s toughness was matched with brains and hockey eventually took Roy to Harvard University where he studied medicine.

March’s wife Lorraine, who played a major role with the team and with the KIJHL as a whole, passed away following a battle with cancer in September 2018. Almost exactly a year before Lorraine’s passing, March’s assistant GM Don LaRoy had also passed from cancer. To commemorate the loss of two important figures for the team, March and the Eagles organized fundraisers that allowed them to donate $10,000 to the oncology unit at Salmon Arm’s hospital over two years.

Looking out the mezzanine window at the ice below, March said he will miss the people he worked with most as he leaves his posts with the team and as manager of the rec centre in a few months. He plans to enjoy his retirement as he said managing a junior hockey club left little time for vacations.



jim.elliot@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Junior B Hockey

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
57 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

Thirty people in the region are in hospital, 16 of whom are in intensive care

Fun in Penticton is being promoted through banners going up along Main and Westminster. (Suzanne White Western News)
Banners go up in downtown celebrating fun in Penticton

From beach or biking time to dining or shopping, the banners promote things to do

George Ryga, considered by many as Canada’s most important English playwright lived in Summerland from 1963 until his death in 1987. He is the inspiration for the annual Ryga Arts Festival. (Contributed)
Summerland archive established for George Ryga

Renowned author wrote novels, poetry, stage plays and screen plays from Summerland home

Municipal crews are clearing sand from streets in Summerland. The street sweeping is expected to be completed by early June. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Summerland crews clearing sand from streets

Work expected to be completed by early June

A hummingbird gives its wings a rare rest while feeding in a North Okanagan garden. (Karen Siemens/North Okanagan Naturalists Club)
Hummingbirds back for another Okanagan season

North America’s littlest birds return, and they’re hungry

Jose Marchand prepares Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination doses at a mobile clinic for members of First Nations and their partners, in Montreal, Friday, April 30, 2021. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is coming under fire after contradicting the advice Canadians have been receiving for weeks to take the first vaccine against COVID-19 that they’re offered. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Trudeau says he is glad he got AstraZeneca, vaccines are only way out of pandemic

‘The most important thing is to get vaccinated with the first vaccine offered to you’

B.C.’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Dip in COVID-19 cases with 572 newly announced in B.C.

No new deaths have been reported but hospitalized patients are up to 481, with 161 being treated in intensive care

(Kingfisher Boats photo)
In the market for a boat in the North Okanagan? Be prepared to wait

Vernon’s Kingfisher Boats is out of 2021 models, with many 2022 models already pre-sold

Solar panels on a parking garage at the University of B.C. will be used to separate water into oxygen and hydrogen, the latter captured to supply a vehicle filling station. (UBC video)
UBC parkade project to use solar energy for hydrogen vehicles

Demonstration project gets $5.6M in low-carbon fuel credits

FILE – A student arrives at school as teachers dressed in red participate in a solidarity march to raise awareness about cases of COVID-19 at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. ‘should be able to’ offer 1st dose of COVID vaccine to kids 12+ by end of June: Henry

Health Canada authorized the vaccine for younger teens this morning

A woman in the Harrison Mills area was attacked by a cougar on Tuesday, May 4. B.C. Conservation Officers killed two male cougars in the area; the attack was determined to be predatory in nature. (File photo)
2 cougars killed following attack on woman in Agassiz area

Attack victim remains in hospital in stable condition

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. CDC updates info, acknowledging small respiratory droplets can spread COVID-19

Large droplets, not aerosols had been fixture of public health messaging for many months

Grizzly bear. (File)
Malakwa man bitten by grizzly bear on dog walk

The man and dogs were not seriously injured

Most Read