The 100 Mile House Wranglers have signed a new three-year contract with coach Dale ‘Duner’ Hladun.
The vote of confidence the deal represents is not lost on Hladun, who said he’s honoured to carry on the work of rebuilding the Wranglers. Last season, the Wranglers missed playoffs for the first time in Hladun’s tenure, which he said was a humbling experience.
“I think (the Wrangler’s executive) see us going in the right direction and they want us to rebuild to where we’ve been,” Hladun said. “It makes me feel good because I want to leave a good legacy here with this club. With the kids we’ve been recruiting, I see a lot of potential again.”
Unlike last year, where Hladun had no returning players to work with, this year he said a strong core of eight players returned for another season. They’ll help him instil the Wrangler spirit and mentality into the new players, a culture that is typically passed on by veteran players.
Leading the team as captain will be 100 Mile’s own Ethan Sanders, who Hladun said understands the Wrangler style of play. Supporting him will be Tyler Lalikeas, Jace Myers, Reid Stumpf, Kaden Ernst, Garth Rasmussen, Matt Tucker and Bryce Burnett.
“One thing we will be this year is young. We’re going to be very exciting and push for spots but next year we’re going to have more guys come back,” Hladun said. “Then, in my humble opinion, we’ll be back in the conversation to win the league again.”
So far, Hladun has already signed on several Williams Lake Timberwolves players including Jackson Altwasser, Curtis Roorda, Boston Pierce and 100 Mile local Mason Pincott. Hladun said his main challenge right now is finding a pair of good goalies to shore up the defence.
With so many slots already filled, Hladun said he’s running a smaller hockey camp from Sept. 5-8 at the South Cariboo Rec Centre. Once he’s formed the team he’s throwing them right onto the ice with a weekend of exhibition games Sept. 9 – 11.
“The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League’s season doesn’t start till Sept. 23, so we have five exhibition games before that. I think the Wrangler Nation will be just excited to see the new kids in an exhibition,” Hladun said. “I believe in my heart already there’s going to be a good three to five guys, minimum, who are going to jump to Junior A from this team.”