The 100 Mile House Wranglers celebrated the effort their players have put in this season, with a banquet and some awards on Feb. 26.
After a list of alumni who have reached Jr. A and college programs was read out by franchise vice president, Greg Aiken, the president of the franchise, Tom Bachynski, took the stage.
“It’s always encouraging to see where people end up and how we can help them get to where their goals are. It’s very gratifying,” he said after the names of former players such as Luke Santerno and Clay Stevenson were called out. Both players have or will attend NHL development camps.
Then Bachynski announced the first award of the night.
“The Builders Award is designed for people that build our franchise, they become a pillar of our franchise. Obviously there are a handful of people that started off the Wranglers back in 2011 and I think we’ll always have those pillars that hold us up and create new and more exciting places that we’ll end up as a franchise. We decided this year that the Builders Award should most definitely go to Rick Tagei.”
Unfortunately, the award winner was unable to attend the event.
“We just want to thank him for everything he does, he’s at every game doing multiple things – on the ice, behind the glass, in the press box, in the dressing room. He’s a man of all things.”
After a short break to encourage bidding for the auction and some more time for socializing, Dale Hladun, general manager and head coach, and Chris Langton, the assistant coach, took the stage to announce the player awards after an inspirational speech to the players and expressing his gratitude to various volunteers, training staff and billets.
The first award announced by Hladun was for the Top Scorer.
“Darian [Long] led us again, he did a great job this year,” he said. “He’s a very inspiring player. He just works and he’s easy to follow.”
Hladun then made a joke about Long wanting to show off his new haircut. The Wranglers bleached their hair and then dyed sections of it blue, prompting Hladun to make a joke earlier about them all walking under a ladder after a painter spilt a bucket of blue paint.
Long finished the season with 25 goals and 26 assists totalling 51 points. He also was awarded the Most Outstanding Forward Award.
The next award was the Players’ Choice Award, which was won by forward Nic Flinton from Williams Lake.
“The players choose this for a teammate that they find very important all around – on the ice, in the room, as a friend, someone you can count on, someone you can talk to too, someone there to push you. This guy has put in an extra effort off the ice, he’s an inspiring player for us and I’m very happy this is the choice the kids took,” said Hladun.
Next up was the Sportsmanship Award, which Hladun said he liked to think was not about who took the least amount of penalties but the ones who play with honour. He expressed that the winner of the award doesn’t care for ‘chirping’ and expressed his development as a player, before saying fans better enjoy him for the playoff season because he doesn’t believe that he will be on the Wranglers team next season due to interest from higher-level teams.
The winner was Cody Barnes.
“We all have a great group of D and they all bring something special,” said Hladun as he announced the Top Defenceman Award. “They bring skill, they bring toughness, they bring teamwork. There are a lot of pieces on our D, and we have a lot of good players back there. I think that’s been the reason we have had a lot of success… One fellow that I know the guys who will agree with is – his game got elevated a ton, he’s been inspiring on and off the ice, doing a lot of extra things of the ice, and truly being a leader – is Aidan Morrison.”
In his second season with the Wranglers, Morrison posted 33 points.”
The Rookie of the Year Award went to forward Quinn Mulder who also posted 33 points in 48 games in his first full season with the franchise.
Hladun said the award could go to a few players, but Mulder was a key player in the back half of the season. Hladun added that he thinks the 18-year-old from Terrace has a bright future.
Kolby Page, the team’s captain, who recently played his 200th game with the franchise, won two awards – Most Valuable Player and the Fan Favourite Award (announced by Aiken).
“How do you not get inspired following this guy? He’s been shot and driven over by a combine, he’s been used to block the CNN Railroad. He’s such a warrior and he’s an inspiring guy,” said Hladun.
Aiken said fans could have gone to anyone, but Page does everything the franchise needs him to do and is the toughest guy the Wranglers ever had in the franchise.
Page has played all five seasons of his junior career with the franchise, scoring 123 points and posting 267 penalty minutes.
Bachynski took the stage again to announce the last award of the night, the President’s Award.
“It was to recognize someone who personifies what a Wrangler is,” he said getting emotional. “I guess I’m a little humbled when I look at some of the people who won this award. Jaiden Ward was our first captain, the second year Oral Peel won it. Zane Steeves who’s playing at St. Scholastica (NCAA III). I don’t think anybody could forget Stephan Egan. She was certainly a super fan and super-volunteer, Linda Bond. And of course, last year Kolby.
It would do this trophy injustice if this name is not added to it. And an injustice would be if we couldn’t present it in person. He’s been with us for six seasons, brought us six seasons of great hockey, a host of wonderful young men he brought to our community, and he’s won us some championships. The President’s Award this year goes to a very deserving man -Dale Haldun.”