The 100 Mile House Wranglers of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) finished off their regular season campaign with an awards banquet at the 100 Mile Community Hall on Feb. 25.
“I think it was well attended. I think this organization does such a good job with volunteers. I think everybody enjoyed the evening. It was nice to see a bunch of the parents here, I think they’re getting engaged with the community,” said Dale Hladun, the general manager and head coach of the club.
Several awards were given out to volunteers, organizational members and the players.
The night started off with Greg Aiken, vice president, reading off a list of alumni who played at least one full season with the Wranglers and are now playing university or Junior A hockey. Each member receives $500 per season played with the organization, which goes towards school costs.
Some members mentioned included Luke Santerno, who played during the Wranglers’ first season. He is now playing with the Bently Falcons in the NCAA Division 1. Brady Ward, a forward who played with the Wranglers for three seasons including the championship-winning season plays at Selkirk College in the British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL). Other names on the plaque are Tavis Roch (University of Alberta-Augustana Vikings), Tate Page (Kindersley Klippers), Kristian Stead (University of Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves), Zane Steeves (College of St. Scholastica Saints) and three players on the Vancouver Island University Islanders – Stephan Egan, Alex Hanson and Liam Cumberbirch. Clay Stevenson (Coquitlam Express), Frazer Dodd (Merritt Centennials) and Kevin Fillier (La Ronge Ice Wolves) were also mentioned.
Rick Takagi, the organization’s treasurer, then presented three awards including the Volunteer of the Year Award.
“I’d like to thank all the volunteers. Without you guys, we wouldn’t have the organization we do today. So thank you very much for everything you guys do,” he said, addressing the crowd. “We would love to present one of these trophies to everybody that volunteers on behalf of the Wranglers organization. This year this goes to someone who’s been with us for a long time. She does an amazing job.”
The winner was Kim McCoy, the director of billeting. McCoy has done things such as helping organize team building weekends, preparing team meals, organized the street hockey event, and many other things.
He also announced the winners for the Fan Favourite Award (Julien Dewey) and the Builder’s Award (Greg Aiken).
Dewey said he was honoured to win the award and was thankful for all the support he gets from the community.
The 19-year-old forward only played in 23 games this year after joining the team late in the season but scored 15 points.
Aiken has been with the club since its beginnings in 2013, as he was one of the founding members. Takagi described him as one of the most enthusiastic and passionate directors in the club, adding Aiken would gladly go on a road trip with the boys if he could.
After winning the award, Aiken took the stage to announce the winner of the President’s Cup on behalf of Tom Bachynski, the team’s president, who was away on holidays.
“The President’s Cup is given out each year to an individual who meets the pillars of success in this organization put forward years ago,” said Aiken, reading Bachynski’s letter. “That player who plays 65 minutes of a 60-minute game, that player – if you watch a video of gameplay – you couldn’t tell if the team was winning 8-1 or behind 8-1.”
Kolby Page, captain of the Wranglers, was announced as the winner.
Page has been with the club for four seasons and was thrust into a bigger role this season in which he thrived in. Never surpassing 19 points in his previous three seasons with the club, Page scored 25 goals and assisted on 30 others for a total of 55 points this season.
Afterwards, Hladun took the stage to announce some more awards and told some jokes and seasonal anecdotes such as acquiring two veterans in Kyle Haugo and Harley Bootsma. The former started his junior career with the Fernie Ghostriders (also in the KIJHL) with Hladun behind the bench in 2014-15. Bootsma used to play for 100 Mile’s rival, the Revelstoke Grizzlies and Hladun said the team hated seeing his name on the team sheet every time the two clubs have played, but now the tables have turned.
He also mentioned Bootsma’s penchant of “losing” keys, except that they are always in a different pocket.
Bootsma is a popular name in the Wranglers locker room, which is why he was announced as the Player’s Choice Award winner.
“It feels good. It’s nice to know that the guys like my presence in the room and seem to look up to me and feel comfortable talking to me,” said Bootsma.
Garrett Hilton, who finished off the season as the team’s leading scorer with 37 goals and 35 assists for 72 points, won the team’s Leading Scorer and Team MVP Awards. On Feb. 22, he was also honoured by the league as the Doug Birks Divison’s leading scorer.
“He’s been a very important player for us in the last three seasons,” said Hladun. “You notice he’s been in every regular season game for us. He’s been good in the room and he wanted to win. I think he inspires.”
Other award winners were Ben Keon (Rookie of the Year), Joel Patsey (Defenceman of the Year), Darien Long (Outstanding Forward of the Year), and Aidan Morrison(Sportsmanlike Award).