100 Mile House Wranglers Junior B Hockey Club general manager/head coach Doug Rogers has been working hard to put the best lineup he can on ice for the team’s inaugural season in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL).
The coach notes the team has acquired a few players with some KIJHL experience, including defenceman Wade Cline (Chase Heat), defenceman Jaiden Ward (Creston Valley Thundercats) and forward Brady Ward (Thundercats).
The club has also been able to sign some players who have played in the league as Affiliated Players with other KIJHL teams.
They include forward Matt Barzilay (Kimberley Dynamiters), forward Connor Sloan (Penticton Lakers/ Kelowna Chiefs), forward Riley Harder (Princeton Posse), and forward Cole Zimmerman (Chase Heat).
With the Wranglers Main Camp right around the corner (Aug. 18-20), Rogers says the coaching staff will be looking to fill the lineup with players who complement the roster currently in place.
However, he notes the players who make the squad at the end of Main Camp and the exhibition games won’t necessarily be the boys who finish the inaugural season.
“Our roster will continue to evolve with player signings and player releases until Jan. 10, 2014 when our roster will be finalized.”
The Wranglers have one goalie signed, Riley Woodland from Kamloops who played for the Kamloops Midget Tier 1 Blazers last year.
Rogers says they would like to identify two other goaltenders in camp to compete during the pre-season for both the starting job and the backup position.
On the blue line, he notes they need to continue to add some experience and some size.
“Although we have traded for Cline and J. Ward, and signed some solid young defencemen, we will continue to try to upgrade our back end throughout camp and the pre-season.”
The head coach says there are some very good defencemen coming to camp to make an impression, including some with previous league experience and others with Senior hockey experience.
Offensively, the coaches will be looking to add some scoring punch to the lineup.
“We will continue to work at identifying a solid top line, whether it comes from within our existing roster, in camp or through a potential trade.”
Rogers adds they have some older forwards coming to camp, including 20-year-old Tyler Wagner, who played last season with the Penticton Lakers.
“We also have some good young forwards attending who will likely push us into making some difficult decisions.”
The general manager/head coach explains there are many spots to be won during Main Camp at every position, and the coaches fully expect the prospects will be very competitive.
“With between 80 and 90 players expected in camp, the players wanting to make the team will have four ice times, prior to the Blue/White game, to show it.”
Main camp starts at the South Cariboo Rec. Centre on Airport Road in 100 Mile House on Aug. 18 at 3 p.m. and runs through to Aug. 20. The entire camp is open to the public.
The Wranglers Blue & White game takes place on Aug. 20 at 7 p.m. Admission for the Blue & White game is $2 and a non-perishable food item for the 100 Mile House Food Bank Society.
The Blue & White game will feature the top players from the Main Camp, and many of them will form the nucleus of the Wranglers when the season starts.
Local products, defenceman Reece Forman and forward Brett Harris, will also be skating in camp to get some ice time before they leave for their respective Junior A teams.