Junior B hockey will soon be back at Bear Mountain arena as the West Shore Wolves gear up for its first season this September.
Team owners Ken Carson, Dave Horner, Kory Gronnestad and Derrick Hamilton are excited to bring junior B back to the West Shore after the downtrodden Westshore Stingers disbanded in late 2010.
Six players have been signed to the Wolves, five of whom reside on the West Shore. The owners agree that the point of starting this team is to get West Shore teenagers playing competative hockey at home.
“That’s what we did,” Hamilton remarked. “All of us played for the Juan de Fuca Gulls.”
“It was a gong show – back then it was called jungle B,” Horner joked.
The four owners grew up playing Juan de Fuca minor hockey and both Horner and Hamilton played junior B for Juan de Fuca. Hamilton remembers home games bringing the community together with the arena full of friends and family, something he could like to see for the Wolves.
The Wolves have secured ice times at Bear Mountain arena at West Shore parks and rec. The team’s home games will be Wednesday nights at 7 p.m. The group had inititally looked at the new Westhills arena as home base. “We looked at all our options and Bear Mountain arena seemed to be the best fit,” Carson said.
The Wolves are hosting a development camp for all interested players ages 16 to 20, July 6 to Aug. 9 at the Juan de Fuca arena.
The Wolves have secured Victor Gervais to lead the pack as its head coach, the former coach and general manager of the junior A Victoria Grizzlies.
“There will be a variety of different players. There will be players in their last couple years of junior B and there will young players who will get better and look to jump up to the next level,” Gervais said. “We want more local kids playing ad we want to make it a community hockey club.”
“(Gervais) has a great connection with the kids at a junior A level,” Gronnestad said. “We want to give these kids a place to play, we don’t want to hold them back. We are here as a stepping stone for them.”
When deciding on a team name, the group of West Shore businessmen were hoping to find something that started with a “W” and “Wolves” seemed a good fit. “It kind of blends with the Canucks because the Chicago Wolves are the Canucks’ farm team,” Gronnestad noted.
Initially the men thought of naming the team the Bruins to pair with the Grizzlies theme, but figured it might not sit well with Canucks fans, stemming from last year’s notorious Stanley Cup finals against Boston.
“We didn’t want Canucks fans hating us,” Gronnestad said.
Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League, the junior B league, might have a draft this year to populate the lineup for the Wolves, but nothing is solidified yet. A junior B franchise is also in the works for Nanaimo next season.
“Having a draft is something we’ll have to work through with the (teams’) owners. It’s something I would like to see,” said Greg Batters, VIJHL president. “(The West Shore) is lucky to get these guys to come in and save this franchise.”
For information on the West Shore Wolves or to sign up for the development camp go to www.westshorewolves.ca.