It was an easy move for Kaden Dempsey – trading one cattle town for another.
“Oh yeah, it’s pretty much the same as back home for me,” said one of the new faces donning the logo of the 100 Mile House Wranglers, originally from the unincorporated community of Knutsford, directly south of Kamloops.
Dempsey is a forward with the organization and a first-year junior player. So far, he’s played 29 games for the team, scoring nine goals and four assists.
“Not a very nice player, that’s for sure,” he laughed when asked to describe his playing style. “I use my size a lot. I’m a pretty aggressive player. I like to agitate the other team and try to make them angry and I’m kind of like an energy guy almost, get my team into it. Whatever coach needs me to be.”
He started playing hockey when he was five and began skating when he was three. His father, who played junior hockey in his heyday, built a rink in their backyard every winter.
“He’s always loved hockey. He registered me one day and the rest is history. I’ve been playing ever since.”
Dempsey played minor hockey all the way up in Kamloops and was noticed by Dale Hladun, the general manager and head coach of the Wranglers, while Dempsey was attending a Merritt Centennials’ (of the BCHL) training camp.
“He was impressed with how I played. Playing in Kamloops, I was only two hours away, so he had seen me play before as well. He reached out to me and we started talking a little bit and he would just call me up some days in the summer, and we kind of built a relationship that way and so when I didn’t make Junior A it was almost a no-brainer to come here.”
It was a good decision for the 18-year-old forward, who described this year as “the most fun I’ve had playing hockey, probably ever.”
He said his favourite part of being a Wrangler was getting to play hockey every day, hanging out with his teammates – or brothers – and going out into the community and interacting with kids and fans either at schools or other community outreach functions. One particular moment he brought up was going to the Forest Grove Elementary School and seeing how much the kids enjoyed watching the Wranglers play.
“I think the best memory was our first game of the season when we played Golden because it was my first real introduction to how good the fans are in 100 Mile and how they come out and support us. We ended up winning that game too, so that was really fun,” he said. “Home games are pretty fun when you’re walking out of the tunnel and have 10 kids on either side giving you fist bumps.”
As for his goals for this season, Dempsey just wants to win everything.
“I just want to win. I want to get to the playoffs, win the league. Since we have the Cyclone [Taylor Cup] here, I definitely want to win that in front of the hometown.”