The 100 Mile House Wranglers celebrated their successes Wednesday at their annual awards banquet.
Head coach Dale Hladun got emotional as he awarded his players, noting this year’s team has been one of his favourites to coach. Everyone on the team got along and was a positive influence on the community, he said. The awards marked the end of the regular season - the Wranglers are now headed to the playoffs.
“You players are why the fans are coming and believing in everything. You are the stars of the show and we have got a hell of a team and we’re certainly not done,” Hladun said. “We did struggle. From September to Dec. 1 we only won five games but we kept talking about how it’s all practice till the playoffs.”
Tyler Smoluk nabbed the Outstanding Defenceman Award, while Jackson Altwasser earned Most Sportsmanlike Player and Curtis Roorda the Players’ Choice Award.
Nathan Bohmer, who was named Scoring Leader, Top Forward and Most Valuable Player, said the season had been a rollercoaster. Bohmer returned to the Wranglers at the beginning of the season after being cut from the Junior A division.
“I think being back was a bright side. I love this group of guys and it was really comforting coming back and playing with them,” Bohmer, 19, said. “Any of those awards (I won) could have gone to any of my teammates, they’re all hard-working great guys and players.”
Bohmer said this season made him appreciate his time playing hockey. He’ll be giving up the sport this fall to attend Thompson Rivers University to study business.
The Fan Favourite Award went to Wranglers forward Jace Meyers, who said he was shocked to be recognized. This year also marks his last with the team as he heads to college in Arizona to study business.
“We had a really tough start to the year but right after Christmas, we all knew what we had to dial it in and pick up our game so that’s what we did,” Meyers, 20, said. “It’s been a lot of fun. I enjoy hockey and all these guys have made it better.”
Rookie of the Year Jack Mulder was second on the team in goals scored this season. Mulder said despite scoring a lot early on, he never focused on his own success. Instead, his focus was on team building.
“It felt really good to be named Rookie of the Year. My brother, Quinn Mulder, was named it a couple of years ago so it was nice to get the same trophy as him,” Mulder, 18, said.
Mulder said he’s not against returning to the Wranglers next year. Whether he returns or not, he said 100 Mile House has been the perfect place to gain new experiences.
Wranglers president Greg Aiken congratulated the team for their playoff berth. He stressed that the program is all about development and that if the players work hard they can go far.
“We just want you guys to move up to Junior A, to college or wherever it is, and be a better player and a better person,” Aiken said. “I just want to congratulate you guys for a solid year.”
Aiken awarded the Wranglers’ Builders Award to Kathy Reid. He said the award is given to any volunteer who supports the organization. Reid has been volunteering since the Wranglers came to 100 Mile House.
Ingrid and Reiner Meyer jointly took home the President’s Award for going “above and beyond all the time.” The husband and wife duo serves as the Wranglers’ ticket lady and trainer respectively.
Hladun called the Wranglers executive “rockstars” and praised the volunteers, personal trainers and billet families, who support his players every year. Without them, he said he wouldn’t have the team he has today.
Assistant coach Lee Hansen, who joined the team this season, was also invaluable, Hladun said. His coaching style and ability to connect with the players complimented his own more intense and result-oriented approach.
Hansen said he grew up in 100 Mile House playing minor hockey and was excited to share his knowledge with the team.
“I had a lot of fun with the kids and learned a lot from Duner,” he said, referring to Hladun. “The kids at the start of the year were young and not used to the Junior B level of hockey but they have definitely matured throughout the year. They had a mission to be better and they got better.”