It makes me cringe when sports teams leave town. I grew up in Seattle and loved watching the Supersonics play basketball through my younger years. After the team was sold and the new weasel of an owner moved them to Oklahoma City, I've hardly watched basketball in the 12 years since. It just felt weird to suddenly not have a hometown team. And it didn't feel authentic to randomly pick a new team and jump on their bandwagon.

I know it's a bit different when it's not a professional sports franchise. But an announcement last month brought news that the Missoula Jr. Bruins hockey team was being sold and the team would no longer operate out of Missoula after their season ended. The five-year-era of Jr. Bruins hockey comes to an end with word that they've been sold to an ownership group in Rapid City, SD.

It was a bit of an unfortunate situation for home games at Glacier Ice Rink this final season. Restrictions and capacity limits meant the team had to play most of their games on the road as home games weren't able to be played between November and the end of February. And now, there are no more home games to be had.

At the time of the announcement to sale the team, the owners of the Bruins shared some thoughts about what went into the move: "This was a difficult decision stemming from ongoing challenges, including the rink management and the (Missoula Area Youth Hockey Association) board refusing to negotiate a renewed contract in good faith per our existing contract."

What does the future hold for hockey in Missoula? In the same article that featured the owners' thoughts on moving - the president of the Missoula Adult Youth Hockey Association was also quoted: "The MAYHA board is working and hoping to have a Junior team at Glacier Ice Rink and affiliated with MAYHA in the future. There's nothing in the hopper right at this moment but it's something we're actively working on."

We'll have to wait and see if a new team will fill the void anytime soon.

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