Dale “Duner” Hladun is the new 100 Mile Wranglers coach/general manager.
The bench boss has decades of experience in the “hockey industry” – at the minor level and Junior A level, and about 10 years in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League with the Princeton Posse, and more recently (the 2013/14 season) with the Fernie Ghostriders.
It was known the Wranglers were looking for a new coach with the departure of Doug Rogers, who guided the club to a second-round playoff berth in its inaugural season and is returning to a career with the Prince George RCMP.
However, it was only recently learned Rogers would not be returning as the team’s general manager.
Club president Tom Bachynski says it was a personal decision by Rogers to cut ties with the Wranglers.
“It came as a complete surprise to our organization. It expanded our scope of what we were looking for. Knowing Dale was available, we hunted him down.”
In an e-mail, Rogers says he wishes the Wranglers organization and the community of 100 Mile House “many successes.”
“I want to thank the community for allowing me to coach their team and for their support.”
Bachynski calls Hladun “the building block” the Wranglers needed to start next season.
“From an organizational point of view, I’ve had to answer already to players from last year and parents asking who was going to be coaching. Dale’s name always came to the top of [who] they would love to see here.”
Hladun says his philosophy going into the season – spring camp starts April 25 – is to be “open-minded.”
Fernie, which finished 24-22-0-6, only met 100 Mile House (23-21-0-8) twice in the regular season, and won both, so the coach isn’t tremendously familiar with the local team. However, he’s familiar with a few of its players. Forward Lane van de Wetering and goalie Kristian Stead were affiliated players with Princeton when he was there and forward Kevin Raimundo also played for him there.
“I don’t know where our starting point is, and I don’t know who’s coming to camp yet because I’m just starting to recruit,” the coach explains.
“Being the next guy behind [Rogers], I’m hitting the ground running. Whether I was coming here or not, it would have been a successful franchise and the camp would have been full because this is where [players] want to play.”
Hladun talks about recruiting northern players – from places like Smithers, Terrace, Kitimat, Burns Lake, Prince George, Quesnel and Williams Lake – as a key to success he’s had with Junior teams in the past.
“[Rogers] knew there’s a ton of talent up there and that’s a market that’s untapped.”
Bachynski says the Wranglers are excited to have “somebody like Duner” on board.
“We’re just thrilled to have him. It’s a good day for the Wranglers organization.”