Friday, July 31, 2015 - Submitted by Gavin Crites - Free Press
Wranglers MVP, top scoring d-man move on Kristian Stead, Jayden Syrota off to Saskatchewan for Junior A hockey
Gaven Crites Free Press In a way, considering their tangible on ice contributions and appeal to some Junior A clubs, the 100 Mile House Wranglers were lucky to have Kristian Stead and Jayden Syrota for the entirety of last season.
Stead, 18, was an essential workhorse between the pipes and named the Wranglers' 2014-15 season MVP. The Merritt net minder was second among Kootenay International Junior Hockey League goalies in games played (40), third in total shots (1,385), 12th in save percentage (0.916) and fifth in wins (21). Syrota, 18, a crafty skater from Vanderhoof, was the team's second leading scorer and winner of the club's Outstanding Defenceman Award, notching 38 points in 47 games in his second season on the Wranglers' blue line. Both are off to the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League next season, making the leap from Junior B to Junior A, Syrota to the Weyburn Red Wings and Stead to the Nipawin Hawks. “I'm really happy for both those guys,” says Wranglers coach Dale Hladun. “Those are great fits and I think they'll have a lot of success there.” “Now,” the coach adds, “I have to find guys to replace those two.” Indeed, seeing the pair move on is bittersweet in a sense. On the one hand, the Wranglers lose two rather skilled, big time contributors. On the other hand, seeing Wranglers alumni move on to different levels of hockey – including former captain Devan Suidy, who recently won a partial scholarship to play and study at Portage College in Alberta – is a good recruiting tool for the local hockey organization, ideally to help draw more talented players here with future aspirations beyond Junior B. At this level, it's the nature of the game. “It will all start at training camp [Aug 27-28],” Hladun says. “We'll get the next Syrota and Stead out there.” Of the pre-season camp, still about a month away, Hladun makes a few predictions: it will be a small one, maybe 30 or so skaters, and a competitive one. Even for some of the dozen or so players eligible to return. “We'll have enough [skaters at the camp] to look at affiliated players, to have some guys challenge for spots, and enough to have inter-squad games. I have a lot of returning vets. I don't sense I'll keep them all. It's going to be a pretty competitive camp.”