Welcome to Quick Shift, which provides a preview of each of the 20 Kootenay International Junior Hockey League teams, with insights from their respective general managers. Next are the 100 Mile House Wranglers in the Doug Birks division. Nathan Bohmer, heading into his third season with the Wranglers, had 21 goals and 41 points in 38 games last season to lead the Wranglers, is expected to be a big piece to build around this season. The Wranglers finished fourth in their division with a 16-24-2-2 record in 44 games and qualified for the KIJHL Teck Cup playoffs, losing in the opening round to the Revelstoke Grizzlies.
What are the important characteristics/skills you look for in players to shape your roster?
Work ethic is big on our list. Skill is important, but skill without work ethic goes nowhere fast. We expect all our guys to compete hard.
Did you have a good off-season of recruiting?
Off-season recruiting went well and we found some great new players. We are excited about the upside of all our new recruits.
What do you like about the group of players returning who will play a big part on your team?
Being the youngest KIJHL team (average age, 18.05) allows us to return a large portion of the roster. This is the most returning players I’ve had to start a season since I’ve been in the KIJHL, which is a long time. A key player will be Nathan Bohmer, who brings talent and leadership to our club. I truly believe he will be considered among the KIJHL’s top players. Another notable returnee is second-year defenceman Tyler Smoluk, who played for the KIJHL in the BCHC Prospects game. He was huge for us last season and will anchor our defensive group. Ty is a leader both on- and off- the-ice for us.
What were some key areas of success achieved last season that the organization wants to build on?
With so few veteran players to start, we struggled “out of the gate” due to our youth and inexperience. The first 22 games we went 5-15-2 up to early December, but you could see the boys buying in and finding their way. The second half, we went 12-7-3 and made the playoffs. Our returning group wants to continue to build off that momentum and are a very eager bunch right now.
What is the important vision you have that leads to building the team you want?
Our motto is “it’s all practice ’til the playoffs!”
We want four-line depth and be recognized as tough to play against. The KIJHL playoffs are a huge grind with four best-of-seven rounds. We want to build ourselves into a team that can grind through the playoffs with depth. Facing opponents multiple times in a series, we want the attitude that, “you might have beat us tonight, but do you want to see us again tomorrow? The day after that?” We plan to build our club ready for a long playoff run.