Vancan Outta The Blue


Wranglers spring camp opens at SCRC

The 100 Mile House Wranglers surprised the entire KIJHL in their inaugural season, and this weekend is where the quest to top that feat begins.

Wranglers Camp 1

Head Coach Dale Hladun leads a skills session to kick off 2014/15 Wranglers spring camp at the SCRC in 100 Mile House. (Photo by Josh Hall)

It’s been said before, but it’s worth saying again: this is Junior ‘B’ hockey. A lot of people will go to their first ‘B’ game and not be expecting much because they think if these kids were any good, they’d be playing ‘A,’ Major Junior or within the college ranks. This notion couldn’t be further from the truth. The young men who step on the ice in Junior ‘B’ rinks are skilled, some supremely.

In March, the Wranglers were eliminated in four games by the Kamloops Storm from the second round of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, so named due to the fact there is one team based in Washington State, the Spokane Braves. A month and half later, it’s time for spring camp. It honestly feels like we just finished the season, and yet there is change in the form of a new coach and general manager, and only a handful of players returning for this camp. Granted, some are off at Junior ‘A’ camps and will still get a shot at a later date should they express a desire to, but we’ll leave those players for another day.

Friday night will consist of two skills sessions and two games between the four teams, totalling 47 players and 8 goalies. One of those players is West Kelowna native Connor Sloan who tallied 19 goals and 22 assists for 41 points in 50 games played last season. That point total was good enough for third best on the ‘expansion’ team, and Sloan was voted fan favourite player at the end of the year.

On how it may be different for him compared to all the fresh faces at the South Cariboo Rec. Centre, Sloan says, “It’s different coming in, you have more experience right. You know how it’s going to be, but you still have to work hard and take it seriously.”

Sloan, 19, says he is far from presumptuous about having a roster spot on lockdown. He says he still has to earn it.

Somewhat of a different story last year was Riley Harder, a Lillooet native that began the season as a carded player for 100 Mile, but would wind up an AP at the end of November, not making another appearance until the new year and in the playoffs.

Having been on and off the roster, he says, “I just have to come back with a different mindset, make sure I give it my all and everything I can out on the ice.” He says for him to be better, his mental game has to be running on all cylinders.

Wranglers camp 2

Parents of prospective players watch on during Spring Camp (Photo by Josh Hall)

Both players, forwards in their own right, say they loved playing for this community last season and that it wasn’t a difficult decision to come back.

It’s important to keep in mind this is spring camp. The KIJHL champion Beaver Valley Nitehawks just finished off a Keystone Cup victory in the lower mainland, and we are months away from not only the 2014/15 regular season, but the main camp, to be held likely in September. There are nearly 60 players in the South Cariboo for the weekend and despite the time between now and actual meaningful hockey, it’s a chance for them to show all that they’ve got. There may not be another scenario, especially for the kids here that want to move up from the KI, that represents a bigger opportunity. You make an impression now and you can run with it down the road. If you don’t, you’ll have your work cut out for you come late summer trying to find a team to play for.

2013/14 Wranglers present for this camp are Kenny Nordstrom (Terrace), Matt Longhurst (Prince  George), Lane Van de Wetering (Quesnel), Cole Zimmerman (Lone Butte), Derek Popadinac (100 Mile-AP, played one game), Rick Mack (Quesnel-AP, played seven games), Tristan Sailor (Williams Lake-AP, played one game) and of course Sloan and Harder.

Other local products taking the ice include Reece Forman, who played with the Nipawin Hawks of the SJHL last season. There’s also Micky Turner who played for Bellingham of the Northern Pacific Hockey League last year. Finally, we have a few 100 Mile Midget Tier 3 players trying out, those being Lynden Jeffery (born 1997), Patrick Walker (1999), goaltender Michael Toews (1998), and Emmett Collens (1998). Other locales represented include Williams Lake, Vanderhoof, Kamloops, Prince George, Fort St. James, Merritt, Surrey, Vancouver, Chase, Fernie, Smithers, Lillooet and even a BC kid who played in Sweden last year.

Bookmark 100MileWranglers.com and follow @100MHWranglers on Twitter for more updates throughout and following the weekend.

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[…] Wranglers spring camp opens at SCRC […]

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[…] Wranglers spring camp opens at SCRC […]

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