Ethan Sanders can’t wait to be back on the ice in front of a crowd of cheering fans.
And this season, playing in his hometown for the 100 Mile House Wranglers, will make that return to the arena that much more sweet.
“To be back home again, with the familiarity, and to hear my name being called and everybody cheer it’s pretty exciting,” he said.
Sanders is the first player to be signed for the Wranglers 2021/2022 season, following a training camp in Quesnel last weekend.
The 18-year-old – born and raised in 100 Mile – has spent the past three years playing centre-wing in Kamloops for the Thompson Blazers.
While his past two seasons on the Major Midget roster were cut short – the first due a few concussions, then last year as a result of COVID-19 – Sanders said he is ready for a full season of hard work in the rink.
“I really miss the games, and working hard all week for something fun to come on the weekend,” he said.
Wranglers head coach Dale Hladun is equally as excited about his first addition to a brand new roster this season.
“He’s a big kid with lots of good skill, and he’s a wonderful young man,” Hladun said. “I’m excited to be able to say to 100 Mile fans that we have a local key player on our roster this year.”
Putting the full lineup together is still a work in progress for Hladun, who said last weekend’s camp showcased “some good young players who may make our team in the future.”
READ MORE: Wranglers lay out season schedule
Among those young prospects were local midget players Mason Pincott, Kyson Hopson and Aidan Moore.
“They came up and put in a good effort, I was really happy with that,” Hladun said. “I’m not sure if they can play at our level yet, they’re all young and it’s their first time to a lot of camps. But it was great to see them there.”
It’s difficult to recruit for the Junior B level, Hladun pointed out, as many young players have their sights set on Junior A teams, where season start dates and training camp schedules differ province to province.
“As a coach, I know those guys belong at our level and they still want to try out at a higher level until they’re told they’re not ready yet,” he explained. “You never really know when you’re going to get your players, it’s going to be all over the map. But the bottom line is, we planted a lot of seeds and we just have to wait and see what grows.”
Next up is the Wrangler’s main camp here in 100 Mile, which kicks off Sept. 9 with two days of skills and scrimmages, followed by a doubleheader series Sept. 11 and 12 against the Dawson Creek Junior B team.
“That way we’ll get to see them in real games instead of just scrimmages,” Hladun said.
The Wranglers’ regular-season home opener is set for Oct. 2 at the South Cariboo Rec Centre. Season tickets and more info can be found at www.100milewranglers.com