100 Mile Wranglers coach Dale Hladun hasn’t let the end of the Wranglers’ hockey season slow him down.
Since the Junior B team played their last game on March 3, Hladun has put 7200 km on his vehicle, traveling around Western Canada looking for players to make up next year’s team.
He’ll get a first glimpse at some of them playing together at this year’s Wranglers’ Junior Hockey Showcase and tryout camp to be held in 100 Mile from April 21-23.
Hladun expects about 50 players to show up to the camp, making about four teams, coming from Northern B.C., parts of the Interior, the Lower Mainland, with maybe some as far as Alberta or Saskatchewan.
Hladun has also invited a number of coaches and scouts from Junior A clubs from the BCHL, AJHL and the SJHL to the camp.
“It’s our tryout camp, but I also use it to help promote our players,” he says.
“There are going to be some good players in the camp and I can’t keep them all.”
The camp will feature some skill evaluation and competitive drills, but the majority of the camp will see the athletes play in games against each other.
Hladun will be looking to make some decisions based off the camp, but he recognizes that many of the participants will be looking to play at a higher level than the KIJHL.
“I want the Wrangler organization to have been somehow important for a kid to move to a higher level.” he says.
“What I am trying to do is just get as many kids to the level that they can play at. If we can move some Wranglers kids up to a higher level, then good for us. If we can give a couple of north kids or a couple of small town kids an opportunity, then perfect.”
Hladun isn’t just looking for the players’ skills on the ice. He also looks at character, rookies, leaders and how he thinks a player will adapt to the community, the coach and the team.
“We’re making a great big bowl of soup here, you need all the ingredients,” is how Hladun sums it up.
“Can they play in 100 Mile? What I mean by that is it’s not just about hockey. Can you live in our community? Can you get along with a lot of people. I don’t care if you can score, I care if you’re a good kid in town. It’s one thing to see their talent, but another thing is to know their character.”
Hladun says he won’t know for certain who he’ll have on his team until late September or October, but the camp will help him prepare as he plans for next season.
“I’m just trying to find a Wrangler.”