Things are progressing nicely for the Squamish Wolfpack as they prepare to play their inaugural season with the Pacific International Junior Hockey League. Recently the team acquired two new players in a trade, bringing the total number of signed players to seven. In the next few weeks coach and manager Matt Samson hopes to sign another three to six players.
Samson expects to dress a team of 23 players this season, but the final roster will be made after the final training camp gets underway on Aug. 21 at Brennan Park. Up to 60 Midget, Junior B and Junior A players are expected to take part, including three or four from Whistler and two or three from Pemberton.
“We have a couple of older players that could play Junior A but because of the age thing it’s getting tougher for them to break into the BCHL,” said Samson. “We have other guys who are looking to get scholarships to play in NCAA leagues and pursue playing hockey in some way which is a good thing, it’s important to have everyone on the team motivated to go onto the next level.”
The Squamish Wolfpack will play out of Brennan Park this season with the PIJHL — a well-established Junior B league with 10 teams that’s allied with the eight-team Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League and the 15-team Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. Previously Samson coached the Squamish Cougars in the World Hockey Association, although it appears the league has folded after two years.
By comparison, the PIJHL is expanding, and is relatively concentrated in the Lower Mainland which means less traveling time in the Wolfpack’s 48-game season.
The season gets underway in Squamish on Sept. 6, with the Wolfpack playing host to the Delta Icehawks at 7:15 p.m. The schedule is now posted online, and includes two regular season games in Whistler. Individual tickets are $8 for adults, and $6 for seniors and youth.
So far the community has embraced the team, says Samson. The Wolfpack is still looking for volunteers to help out with some aspects of managing the club and will have a booth at Squamish Days to promote the team.
Samson is also looking for more Squamish families to billet players for the start of the season. He has confidence that enough houses can be found for his team, given the level of support from the community, but he needs to start confirming spots soon.
If you can billet a player this season or want to learn more about the billet program, contact Matt Samson at firstname.lastname@example.org.