The Kitimat Ice Demons came on the scene in senior hockey in British Columbia, in the summer and fall of 2002 – just in time to participate in the 2002-03 Central Interior Senior Men’s AA Hockey League season.
The Demons joined the Burns Lake Braves, the Houston Luckies, the Fort St. James Stars, and the Mackenzie Moose and got off to a good start, with three wins in a row, over Houston and Burns Lake before losing to the Burns Lake Braves in their fourth game of the first season.
Interest had buzzed through the community over the previous two winter seasons as full-contact exhibition games were held with Prince Rupert, Terrace and Burns Lake. The games were so successful that a group of young local players formed a team directors group and applied to enter the Central Interior Senior Men’s AA Hockey League, which was conveniently re-organizing itself about the same time.
To ensure that the best team was entered, volunteer coaches, Mark Zielinski, Tim Ostoforoff and Darryl Craft held extensive tryouts in September and October, 2002, culminating in a couple of inter-squad games, from which emerged a team which succeeded in winning the league in each of its first three seasons.
However playoff success did not come so quickly.
It took until 2005 for the Demons to finally win the CIHL playoffs. The team gelled well in 2005, again winning the regular season, before going on to capture the new Kal Tire Cup by winning the playoff championship for the first time. The team achieved another highlight, by going undefeated during the season.
On top of that, the Demons successfully competed in the Coy Cup in Port Hardy, B.C. in 2005, winning the AA Provincial senior hockey championship for the first time in Port Hardy, with a win over the home-town North Island Capitals – 5-4 in the final.
The Demons had finished third in their only earlier try at the Coy Cup, in the 2002-03 season, when they stood in for that season’s CIHL league champions, Houston, in Trail, B.C. A shorthanded Demons’ team won only one game in that Coy Cup competition, over 100 Mile House Bears, and lost close games, two to Trail, the eventual winners, and were eliminated in the semi-final by the Powell River Regals.
A great deal of work and effort went into developing the Kitimat Ice Demons as a competitive senior AA hockey team in the past several years.
Mark Zielinski, who coached the team to its first two regular season championships, turned over the head coaching role to former Demons’ defenseman, Mike Steponavicius at the start of the 2004-05 season, but stayed on as an assistant coach to see his team finally win the league title and then the provincial championship.
Steponavicius remained as coach for three years, and was succeeded last season (2008-09) by assistant coach Barry Boudreault.
Boudreault has also retired and the team was coached in the 2009-10 season by 2008-09 assistant coach, and long time minor hockey coach, and three years advisor to the Ice Demons, Danny Baker.
His assistant was retired Demons’ core player, Craig Hewitson ( then 30) who suffered from concussion symptoms in each of the previous two seasons.
Several players who formed the team, are still in place as the Demons moved into their eighth season, including goaltender, Brett Vilness, brothers Andre and Gerard Baldo, Blaine Markwart, Ian Coleman, Trent Bossence as well as defensemen Robb Lafferty and David Venman. Goaltender Jamie Moran joined the team for the second and third seasons. (Other members of that first year team included goaltender Brandon Highton, who has since gone on to star with the Prince George Spruce Kings, Ryan Haynes, Wade Balbirnie, Sonny Muchalla, Chris Lafferty, Adam Taylor, Jeff Baker, Glen Robinson, Troy Farkvam, Sam Horianopolis, Dave Anthony, Tyler Daum, Nathan Campbell and Donny Legg.)
During the 2003-04 season, the Kitimat Ice Demons launched the pre-season Northern Challenge Cup competition, losing the trophy in the first season top the 2003 Coy Cup champion Trail Senior Smoke Eaters. But the team won the trophy in its second competition, last year, defeating the Smithers Steelheads in the final. Smithers won the Challenge Cup in 2005, in the preseason and the same team is defending the trophy to open the new season in September. Kitimat Ice Demons took the Challenge Cup in the warm-up to the 2011-12 season, beating Smithers Steelheads in the final. Smithers went on to win the CIHL season league championship, playoffs and the Coy Cup in March 2012, in their first run at the Cup. Demons were scheduled to defend the Challenge Cup in Terrace, on Sept. 28/29, 2012.
In the 2005-06 season, the Ice Demons suffered some injuries and did not win the league championship, as they had for the first four years. However, they defeated the Terrace River Kings in the league playoffs and also hosted the Coy Cup in their own arena, again winning the provincial championship, this time defeating Fort St. John Flyers in the final game, again by a score of 6-5.
In the 2006-07 season, the Ice Demons were tied at 33 points with the Williams Lake Stampeders at the end of the regular season, but the title went to the Stampeders by virtue of one more win. But the Demons came on in the post season, to win the CIHL championship for the third season in succession, beating the Stampeders two games to one in the finals.
Both teams qualified for the Coy Cup, held in Rossland, and Demons seemed destined to win the trophy for the third time in a row, when they faced off against the host Rossland Warriors in the final. But the Demons, who beat the Warriors 12-0 in the opening game of the tournament, picked the wrong night for a sub-par performance and despite a hard comeback that tied the game at 5-5 in the third period, Demons allowed Rossland only one shot in the period. But it turned out to be the 6-5 winning goal for Rossland.
In its sixth season – 2007-08 edition of the Ice Demons still featured a solid core of players from day one, the Vilness brothers, goalie Brett and captain Chris Vilness, assistant captains, Craig Hewitson, Doug Wilson, and Gerard Baldo, Blaine Markwart, Jeremy Brady, Ian Coleman and Robb Lafferty.
In the 2006-07 season the Ice Demons maintained its winning record, confirming the league title and Lightening Cup early in January and proceeding to again win the Kal Tire Cup playoff title, by defeating the Smithers Steelheads in the semi-finals and the Houston Luckies, winners of the East Division title, each in the best of three, winning both home games, after losing the opening games in Smithers and Houston.
Since the Coy Cup competition was cancelled, the Kitimat Ice Demons were again awarded the Coy Cup trophy, emblematic of the Provincial Senior AA championships after defeating Houston in the League playoff finals. It was the third win for the Demons in four years of competition for the Coy Cup.
In the 2008-09 season the Ice Demons again won both the league title and the league playoff championship, again defeating the Houston Luckies in the final game.
With new head coach, Barry Boudreault, succeeding Mike Steponavicius, Danny Baker became the new assistant coach. Darrell Lowes also served as assistant coach. Trainers, Darrell Lowes and Brad Loran served seven seasons with the team.
In the 2010-11 season the Ice Demons lost in the league playoff series to the Williams Lake Stampeders, but avenged themselves by taking the Coy Cup for the fourth time, this time in Prince Rupert, defeating the Williams Lake Stampeders by a final score of 8-5.
In the 2011-12 season, the Ice Demons showed the effects of losing some of its core players late in the season and although the team topped its division with 25 points, they were still a point behind Williams Lake and 11 points behind the Smithers Steelheads. The Demons were knocked out of the playoffs in round one by the Terrace River Kings in two straight games, but Terrace was also ousted and the finals went to Smithers over Williams Lake, also in two straight games.
The Ice Demons kept practicing though the remainder of the playoffs and were in good shape to host the 2012 Coy Cup (their second time as hosts) and made finals by defeating the Stampeders for the second time in the competition, but were too badly beaten up to withstand the onslaught by the Steelheads, who went through the tournament undefeated, and took the Coy Cup 3-1 over the Ice Demons in a packed Tamitik Arena.
Allan Hewitson had turned over his duties as president, which he has held since the opening season, to Luis Borges in 2009 but resumed the title in 2011. This 2012-13 season the president title has been passed on to Cliff Madsen, who was vice-president for most of the 2010-11 and 2011-12 season, in which the Demons finished out of the playoffs for the first time, but came back to finish in the silver medal position in the Coy Cup, won in Kitimat by the Smithers Steelheads. Allan Hewitson remains as vice-president and publicity chair. Vice-president and treasurer, Angelo DeMelo retired in the 2011-12 season and his role was taken over by Lorna Marleau.will be in his eighth year with the club.
Mike Whelan, who was g/m of the Ice Demons from 2005 to 2010, was replaced as general manager by Terry Marleau, who currently holds the position. Cory Eisenberger was trainer for the past two seasons and is back in that role for the 2012-13 season.