The 100 Mile House Wranglers have confirmed the return of three veteran players for their 2019-20 campaign.
“We are excited to have all of them back,” said Dale Hladun, general manager and head coach. “I think we have to understand that as kids become 19 and 20 there is a lot of things in their lives in terms of going to college and going into full-time employment, things like that. So that’s a big decision. This isn’t just ‘yeah. I’ll come back and play hockey for you’. This is a real commitment by these men. They enjoy their time in 100 Mile, they want to win a championship in 100 Mile. They pay to play to entertain our community.”
The three players are captain Kolby Page, Darian Long and Harley Bootsma.
All three are forwards and represent the core leadership of the team. Page is also the only remaining player from the Wrangler’s treble-winning season in 2015-16, where they won the KIJHL championship, the Cyclone Taylor Cup and the Keystone Cup.
The 19-year-old forward has played 164 games for the franchise, scoring 91 points. His best season was last year, where he scored 55 points after being given more offensive responsibilities.
“How do you replace a guy who gets 50 points a year and plays with cracked ribs during the playoffs?” said Hladun. “Like, you don’t.”
Long, now entering his third season as a Wrangler, has scored 92 points in his 93 games as a Wrangler. His sophomore campaign was also his best, scoring 24 goals and 33 assists for 57 points. He also shows no bones when it comes to throwing down or getting a little messy, collecting 216 penalty minutes in the 2018-19 season.
“Such a warrior, the character he brings every shift, such an intimidating guy. The kid is the dressing room everyone needs to follow,” said Hladun of Long.
Hladun also described Bootsma as a character who brings a lot to the locker room.
Bootsma joined the Wranglers last season from the franchise’s arguably biggest rival, the Revelstoke Grizzlies. With a reputation as a bit of a pest, Bootsma has developed into a more rounded player under the guidance of Hladun and assistant coach, Chris Langton. After three seasons and parts of another in the KIJHL, the 20-year-old Salmon Arm native recorded his best season with Wranglers, notching career bests goals (9), assists (14) and points (23). He also comes back to the Wranglers with a chip on his shoulder.
“I kind of lost in the finals two years ago and got traded away from the team that won it all last year and it’s kind of my last year to do anything for it so I kind of want to get it done this time. A kind of redemption for the last few years,” said Bootsma.
Hladun said more updates on players being added to the team will be released throughout the summer.