“Not a scorer. That’s for sure,” said Kolby Page, the captain of the 100 Mile House Wranglers, when describing his style of play. “Really kind of muck and grind, get into the corners in the dirty areas and get the boys fired up.”
This rings true. Page has never broken past 20 points in his four seasons in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL), but this season has seen him emerge as a scorer. In 20 games, he’s already scored 19 points and is second in scoring on his team. He’s on pace to potentially reach around 50 points if he stays healthy and continues to score on a regular basis.
The grinder has come a long way. Raised on a farm in Vanderhoof, Page learned how to skate when the fields on the property froze over. His family, including his brother Tate, would build an outdoor rink using panels and plywood so they could practice their hockey skills.
“My dad played hockey. That was probably the most [influential] thing,” said Page about why he wanted to play hockey. “I’d go watch him play on Friday nights. That’s kind of how I started.”
Despite being in Canucks territory, Page is a Montreal Canadiens fan. Adding to the confusion, he said his favourite player was Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand, who cut his teeth as being a pesty grinder before breaking out as scoring force in the NHL, not unlike Page has done this year.
Growing up though, he said he also really liked Kevin Bieska, the gritty defenseman who played most of most of his 808-game career with Vancouver.
He would go, like most Canadians, into Timbits to get his first taste of organized hockey as a six-year-old.
When he got into midget hockey (ages 15-16), Tate was already playing in 100 Mile House for the Wranglers during the 2014-15 season.
“That’s why I probably came here. We came and watched him quite a bit here,” said Page, who joined the team during the 2015-16 season.
It was the season the Wranglers would win the KIJHL Championship, the Keystone Cup and the Cyclone Taylor Cup under the direction of the team’s general manager and head coach, Dale “Duner” Hladun. Page played 40 games in his debut season, scoring four goals and seven assists.
“When we won it all, that was huge. That was definitely a big thing,” he said.
However, his most memorable moment in his four years in the KIJHL is actually his first fight.
“No one likes him on our team. He’s not a well-liked guy on the ice. I thought I should fight him…so I did,” recalls Page, speaking about the fight against Revelstoke Grizzlies forward Dylan McNeil.
The 19-year-old was named captain of the club for the 2018-19 season. He described his leadership style as leading by example, relying on making a big hit to get his teammates fired up rather than giving a speech or talking on the bench.
However, according to teammate Harley Bootsma, he’s not afraid to get hard and tough on someone who’s not doing their job properly.
“Every once in a while, someone needs to be yelled at to get through their heads and he’ll do it,” said Bootsma.
This might be Page’s last season with the Wranglers and in organized hockey, despite having one year left of junior eligibility.
“I might hang em’ up. Get on with life,” he said. “Keep farming for the rest of my life.”
He plans on taking up the family business in farming and was accepted into the Farrier Science program at Olds College.
Page said the community support in 100 Mile House was really good and very supportive.