Fresh off winning the Keystone Cup in Regina and last week’s victory parade in 100 Mile House, Wranglers coach Dale “Duner” Hladun was back in the arena for the Wranglers annual Spring Camp on April 22-24.
He wanted to get a look at some hockey players who might be filling spots on the 2016/17 roster.
Always a man with a quip, Duner decided he would give special names for the four teams at camp – Team Division Champs, Team KIJHL Champs, Team Cyclone Taylor Cup Champs and Team Keystone Cup Champs.
The coach says he likes what he sees in the boys – mostly from the northern reaches of the province –
who attended the camp.”
“There’s some talent out there. We’ll have to see how they would fit in.”
He wants to make sure they fit in on the ice but he also wants to make sure they fit in the (dressing room).
Some of his players from this year’s team have already left for home and jobs, but most stayed on to help with the camp – on-ice officials, coaching and sprinkled into the four teams as players.
There was a lot of good-natured ribbing between the coach and his players, and when Duner fired a zinger off to one of his players, the kids trying to make it onto the squad would look up and back to the coach who took the Wranglers on the road to win everything there was to win, with a bit of awe and a smile creeping across their faces.
They want to play for this guy; you can see it in their eyes.
Noting there were a few Junior A coaches attending the camp, Hladun says they were definitely interested in Tate Page and Zane Steeves and five or six other Wranglers.
He is pretty sure most of the boys will be going to tryouts for Junior A or college hockey. Duner is good with that because it’s what Junior B is supposed to do – prepare players to make the next step.
“I like that, and when a team gets a reputation for being able to get players to the next level, players want to join that team.”
Duner says he doesn’t know how many of this year’s championship team players will be back, but he hopes to have a few back to build next year’s core, as they defend four championships.
While he says it’s never easy to defend because teams are gunning for you, he says it is doable.
Meanwhile, April 24 was a tough day for Duner as he had to say good-bye to the boys who made him a championship-winning coach.