COWICHAN COMMUNITY CENTRE
2867 James Street
Duncan, BC V9L 2X5
YEAR BUILT - 1978
CAPACITY - 2,040 (1,350 seats and 690 for standing room).
Cowichan Community Centre in Duncan, BC is the home of the Cowichan Valley Capitals of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL). The complex includes an ice rink, pool, theatre and a gymnasium.
In 2008, Island Savings Credit Union signed a ten year, one million dollar naming rights deal with the Cowichan Valley Regional District. The arena was known as the Island Savings Centre until the contract expired and the name reverted back to the Cowichan Community Centre in 2019.
Cowichan Valley Capitals
In September 1980, the expansion Cowichan Valley Capitals made their debut. That inaugural team featured three future NHL players – Geoff Courtnall, Dean Evason and Dan Hodgson. Courtnall started the year with Cowichan Valley but was called up by the Victoria Cougars in March and was on their WHL championship team.
After four years in Cowichan, the Capitals relocated to Sidney in 1984. Over the next ten years, the franchise struggled to find a permanent home and would move five times between Cowichan and the Greater Victoria area. During this period, they went nine straight years without a winning record. The franchise returned permanently to the Cowichan Valley in 1993.
1980-1984 – Cowichan Valley Capitals
1984-1986 – Sidney Capitals
1986-1988 – Juan De Fuca Whalers
1988-1989 – Cowichan Valley Whalers
1989-1990 – Cowichan Valley Warriors
1990-1993 – Victoria Warriors
1993 – present – Cowichan Valley Capitals
The Capitals have won the Island Division twice but have never captured the BCHL Championship.
The Capitals have one jersey retired – number 10 for Matt Ellison. He played three years for the Cowichan (1990-2002) and was a fourth-round pick of the Chicago Blackhawks in 2002. He appeared in 43 NHL games with Chicago and Philadelphia and had a ten-year career in the Kontinental Hockey League.
Glenn Kulka enjoyed a fascinating career spanning multiple sports. In 1980-81, Kulka was a defenseman on the Capitals, but quit hockey after the 1982-83 season. He switched to football, enrolled in Bakersfield college and went on to an eleven-year career in the Canadian Football League as a defensive lineman. During the 1993 CFL offseason, Kulka returned to hockey for a short nine-game stint in the ECHL with the John Brophy coached Hampton Road Admirals. After retiring from CFL, he became a professional wrestler under contract to the WWF, fought in three MMA fights and later hosted a sports radio talk show.
Western Hockey League (WHL)
On March 15, 1981, the Cowichan Sports Centre hosted a regular-season WHL game between the Victoria Cougars and the New Westminster Bruins. Queens Park Arena, New Westminster’s home rink, was unavailable due to a labour strike so the Bruins were forced to play in various arenas around British Columbia. Victoria won the game 7-1 with Geoff Courtnall scoring his first WHL goal for Cougars.
Beginning in 1980, the Vancouver Canucks held their training camp in Duncan eight times over nine years (1980-84 and 1985-88)
During this period, the Canucks played seven preseason games at the Cowichan Sports Centre. On September 20, 1981, the Winnipeg Jets defeated the Canucks 6-3. In that game, the future of Hall of Famer Dale Hawerchuk scored his first NHL goal for the Jets. The Canucks and the Los Angeles Kings faced each other in 1982, with the two teams meeting annually from 1984 to 1988.
World’s Largest Hockey Stick
Mounted on the outside arena wall facing the Trans Canada Highway is the World's Largest Hockey Stick and Puck. At 205 feet, the stick was declared the Largest Stick by the Guinness Book of World Records in 1986.
The stick was constructed for Expo '86 in Vancouver BC and was located outside the Canada Pavilion. It was modelled after the stick of Vancouver Canucks forward Tony Tanti.
After Expo 86, a society in Duncan was formed and raised funds to move the stick to the Cowichan Valley. It was transported to Vancouver Island using a barge and three flatbed trucks. Two years after Expo 86 ended, the World’s Largest Hockey Stick and Puck was reconstructed and dedicated on May 21, 1988,