The good news is that the Squamish Wolf Pack kept the score relatively tight for the first half of their home opener Sept. 6 against the Delta Ice Hawks. For a team that was still auditioning players two weeks ago and has yet to name a final roster, it was a decent effort.
The Wolf Pack kept the Ice Hawks grounded through the first period, then traded goals in the first part of the second period. After that the Ice Hawks took over, and scored four unanswered goals, two more in the second and two in the third to win by a 5-1 margin. Two of those goals were scored on the power play.
Sinclair Kim scored the Wolf Pack’s first official goal on a feed from Trevor Beaupre, while goalie Graham Hallenbeck faced 44 shots — including 18 in the second period.
The Wolf Pack couldn’t convert on any of their six powerplays.
Overall, coach and manager Matt Samson said he was disappointed with the second half of the game.
“I’m not happy. It was 1-1 halfway through the game and we had the momentum in the second after scoring the tying goal,” he said. “We had three breakaways, and didn’t score on any of them, we took too many penalties. The (Ice Hawks) goals were because of breakdowns and taking penalties.
“Scoring one goal on home ice is inexcusable. That said, I think the talent level is there to be competitive with the other teams, we just have to put it together.”
It was a rough game, with the Wolf Pack racking up a combined 43 penalty minutes while the Ice Hawks earned 47 minutes.
Samson says that the roster is still being finalized, and that no player is safe just yet. Players from Junior A level teams that were cut or unsigned have contacted the Wolf Pack and will vie with the other players for one of 24 spots on the team.
Samson was happy with the crowd for their home opener, with just under 400 tickets sold and a packed beer garden. He hopes to get up to 500 per game this season, once word gets out about the quality of the hockey.
“It’s up to us to put a good product on the ice, and create something with entertainment value,” he said. “Although the result wasn’t what we wanted, this was an entertaining game, there were lots of scoring chances, lots of checking… there was a fight, some great saves on both ends. Everything you go to hockey games to see.”
The Wolf Pack’s next game is also a home game, this time hosting the Grandview Steelers on Saturday, Sept. 13. The puck drops at 7:15 p.m. at Brennan Park Arena. After that the Pack takes to the road for a game against the Richmond Sockeyes on Sept. 18, before coming back to Squamish on Sept. 20 for a game against the Abbotsford Pilots.
A handful of Whistler midget players tried out for the team this year, and forward Brandon Combs, 17, will get to play a few games with the team while the roster is being finalized. Combs mixed it up after the buzzer in the third period to earn a 10-minute misconduct penalty, but will be back in the lineup on Saturday.
From Squamish, the current Wolf Pack roster includes forward Nicholas Johnston, 20; forward Jacob Melville, 16; defenceman Cole Nelson, 19; forward Hunter Nelson, 18; forward Dustin Urdea, 18; and forward Keegan Moore, 18.