The West Shore’s new junior-B franchise has an updated logo and three-quarters of a roster.
The news was officially announced Thursday night at Bear Mountain Arena, where the club will kick off its season with a game meant to pay tribute to its future fanbase.
The Wolves first league game on Sept. 5 will be free to the public as the team tries to make amends to fans burned by the last incarnation of a junior-B team on the West Shore.
“I think where (the idea not to charge for the first game) stems from is the past history of junior-B was not good,” said Wolves general manager and director of hockey operations Ken Carson, who is also part of the team’s ownership group. “We have a lot of things to change to get a good start out of the gate.”
After several futile seasons in Sooke and eventually at Bear Mountain, the Westshore Stingers folded from the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League in 2010.
The new owners of the Wolves are placing an emphasis on providing a place to play for kids who come up through Juan de Fuca minor hockey.
“That’s one thing we’re really trying to push is to get as many local kids as we can,” Carson said, noting that nine of the 15 players confirmed so far played their minor hockey on the West Shore.
And while the club is investing in local players, Carson says being competitive is critical.
“We’re still looking for a couple of top six forwards. We’re looking for two top six defencemen and we’re looking for one more goaltender,” Carson said. “The Juan de Fuca kids that we’ve brought back all have a history of winning. That’s the group that’s going to make up our core.”
The team has also taken advantage of the connections of seasoned head coach Victor Gervais – formerly the bench boss of the junior-A Victoria Grizzlies – to bring in three prospects from Prince George.
When it comes to recruiting, the Wolves benefit from being in a region that’s recognized for developing talent. There are also an abundance of post secondary options for kids who want to have an education to fall back on after hockey.
To that end, the team announced Belmont secondary school teacher Todd Fazer will serve as the Wolves educational advisor.
The team also announced that Jackson Penny, the former GM of the Grizzlies, will be back working with Gervais, this time as associate coach.
Team colours will resemble the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning, though uniforms won’t be ready for about another five weeks. The Wolf on the logo now has its teeth bared to look a little more fierce than in the original incarnation.
Home games will be on Wednesday nights, starting with the freebie that Carson and the rest of the club’s owners hope will signal a fresh start for junior-B on the West Shore.
“If we’ve done our job properly a lot of those people will come back.”