By contributor Kelly Whiteside

The application for VIU to have a team in the BC Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL) has been approved, making it Nanaimo’s first-ever university hockey team. The Mariners are set to begin playing in the BCIHL in September 2017. They join five other schools in the league: Eastern Washington University, Selkirk College, Simon Fraser University, Trinity Western University, and University of Victoria.

Non-profit organization VIU Hockey Inc. has been working on bringing hockey to the university since 2015. In December 2016 their application to the BCIHL was approved, with support from BC Hockey, the city council, and VIU.

Though Nanaimo offers a relaxed local recreational league as well as more intense junior hockey, the university team will offer something more competitive for players that still want to play while focusing on school.

The Mariners hockey team will join VIU athletics as a club, meaning they’re responsible for their own financial support unlike varsity teams, like VIU’s soccer, basketball, and volleyball, which are funded through the school. Fees for the first year are expected to be $1800 per player, and the annual team budget is estimated at $80K. Sponsorships and donations will help to cover expenses, and, according to a VIU release, $40K has already been raised.

Students must meet a minimum enrollment requirement in order to play. VIU Hockey Inc. has already received more than 40 applications to join. All applicants will attend a camp from April 7–9 to fight for a spot on the team, with approximately 30 being chosen from the camp. Practices will be scheduled twice a week for the new team, and 12 home games will be played at the Nanaimo Ice Centre on weekends with a $5 admission fee.