The 100 Mile Minor Hockey’s U9 Team was treated to a surprise scrimmage last week with the 100 Mile House Wranglers.
Members of the team, comprised of seven and eight-year-olds, were surprised to see the Wranglers at their practice, U9 manager Tammy Mikkelsen said.
“The U9 kids were ecstatic, their faces were shocked they were super excited to be standing beside a Wrangler,” she said.
Mikkelsen said she got the idea for for the scrimmage from Wranglers Curtis Roorda and Jack Mulder, who attend U9 practice to mentor their billet brothers. Wrangler coach Dale Hladun was immediately on board.
Mikkelsen had her team wear their game-day Wrangler jerseys for the practice. Roorda, 18, said it was fun to go skating with “the littles.”
“Me and my billet brother Boston Pierce go to one ice time a week with the U9 team and help out but it’s not quite the same because we just do normal practices,” Roorda said. “I’d say this is the first time we’ve done it with my whole team and I thought it was a lot of fun.”
Mulder agreed, noting a few of the Wranglers’ billet parents have children in minor hockey teams. He is staying with Mikkelsen, whose son Shane was also on the ice.
“We wanted to see if we could brighten up their day and bring some excitement and we did,” Mulder, 18, said. “I would say it was a good time.”
Hladun kept the practice light and fun, sending both the Wranglers and U9 players through a series of goofy drills and scrimmages. One of the most popular games they played was “Shark,” where the Wranglers were tasked with grabbing U9 players and shoving them in a hockey net. Roorda said that was the highlight for him.
“It was really entertaining, I was picking them off. I think I got three the whole time, I was pretty happy,” Roorda said.
Hladun noted there isn’t a lot of freedom for skaters at rinks anymore. Ice time is valuable so whenever minor hockey teams have practices they usually stick to a strict schedule.
“Even for our guys, I guarantee growing up no one ever told them to do a somersault during ice time,” Hladun said.
“I think they just embraced being goofy and it’s that time of year. The holidays are around the corner and everyone is excited, so I think it was a fun event and a good team-building exercise.”
The chance to goof off was especially welcome after the “rough start” the team has had this season, Roorda observed.
“I’m sure that the kids had fun and all but that was actually a really great little break for our team. All of our practices are high paced and everyone always wants to do the best they can,” he said. “It was nice to just take an ice time, have fun and relax a little bit.”
Hladun said while the younger players looked up to the Wranglers, they weren’t afraid to be cheeky with them on the ice.
“When we played a scrimmage we had half of the little guys on the ice and half on the bench and one of them stole Boston Pierce’s glove and dumped his whole water bottle into it,” Hladun said.
Mikkelsen said the practice was the “talk of the week” for the minor hockey players and their parents.
“The kids just loved it, it was the coolest thing to little seven and eight-year-olds,” Mikkelsen said. “I know my son Shane was pretty excited to be playing games against the Wranglers.”