The Saanich Predators (formerly the Saanich Braves) are expected to unveil their new Predators jersey and brand on Sept. 29. (Black Press Media file photo)

The Saanich Predators (formerly the Saanich Braves) are expected to unveil their new Predators jersey and brand on Sept. 29. (Black Press Media file photo)

After 53 years, Saanich Jr. B team rebrands as Predators

Saanich Predators Junior B hockey team navigates COVID, culture

Behold the Saanich Predators.

The 53-year-old junior B hockey team dropped its original Braves’ nickname and logo (an outdated profile image of an Indigenous man in headdress) this summer and ran a public campaign to rename the team.

The Predators branding and logo will follow on Sept. 29.

“We were excited and wanted to make the announcement first,” co-owner Norm Kelly said. “The branding and colours are coming.”

The nine-team Vancouver Island Junior B Hockey League is expected to start on Oct. 2. Teams will be broken into three cohorts of four, three, and two teams. Saanich will likely start in a cohort with the Westshore Wolves and Kerry Park Islanders.

READ MORE: Saanich junior hockey team drops ‘Braves’ name

“After a few weeks we’ll have a 14-day break and then switch to another cohort but right now we’re hoping things will eventually open up,” Kelly said. “Otherwise we’re just waiting and seeing.”

The decision to change the name actually started with the Saanich ownership group of Kelly and Ed Geric of Mike Geric Construction a few years ago.

They announced the Braves name and logo would be abandoned in the spring amid civil unrest for equity in the United States and protests in Canada.

The club shortlisted to three names, the Defenders, Squid and Predators. What many might not realize is that Predators carried a history as a minor hockey name in Victoria dating back 20 years.

Of course, the most significant tie between the Saanich name and the NHL Predators, the team Saanich is borrowing the name from, is Matt Irwin. The eight-year NHLer with the Anaheim Ducks played a full season for Saanich in 2004-05 before graduating to Nanaimo Clippers and the NCAA.

But Kelly never spoke to Irwin about the Predators name, he said.

“We had overwhelming texts and emails on the Predators from fans, from parents of players, and from players and ex-players,” Kelly said. “People are buying into it and are very excited about it.”

Back in 2002 when Kelly’s son Bryan was 14 years old, he wanted to play a tournament season for spring hockey and, with Geric’s son Adam, then 13, the two boys arranged it the first year, he said.

“We had two bantam-level spring teams for four years that used the predators jersey,” Kelly said. “Players came from all over the Island.”

For the first year, there was only one set of Victoria Predators home and away uniforms and the teams would have to swap them back and forth. The spring elite teams practised out of Fuller Lake and entered high-end elite tournaments coached by Geric and Kelly, specifically the Challenge Cup in Vancouver, an international AAA showcase for elite talent.

Several alumni from those four years were drafted into the NHL including Taylor Ellington (Vancouver Canucks, 2007) and the late Mitch Fadden (Tampa Bay Lightning, 2007) who died in 2017.

READ ALSO: Smokin’ summer for former Saanich Braves NHL alum

Protocols around COVID-19 are allowing hockey but are making organizing this year’s Predators roster complicated for head coach Brent Polischuk, Kelly explained. Ice time is already limited with Saanich’s Gold rink out of service until late spring at the Predators’ home – Pearkes Arena. The team practices on the Green rink and in the Wurtele rink at the CFB Esquimalt.

Games are at Pearkes but are not open to fans.

“Pearkes rink is capped to 50 people, so once each team has its players, coaches, the refs, the time-box and video staff inside, a rink attendant locks the doors,” Kelly said.

The other wrinkle is the annual ritual of holding roster spots for players who return from junior A camp.

“If they return they’ll have to isolate for 14 days before they can play for the Predators,” Kelly said.

Players will wear masks on the bench that come up from the neck.

“We told them, if you want to play hockey, take it serious,” Kelly said. “If you want to go to parties, you’re going to risk everyone on the team, so our guys are taking it pretty seriously.”

reporter@oakbaynews.com


 

Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

Junior B Hockey

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A family of ducks that lives near Saanich Municipal Hall recently welcomed 11 ducklings and took them for a swim in the koi pond outside the offices. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Pair of ducks make Saanich Municipal Hall a nursery for 11 hatchlings

Family of ducks spent time in koi pond before heading down to Swan Lake

Habitat Acquisition Trust has received provincial funding to help restore Garry oak ecosystems on southern Vancouver Island. (Photo by Jeremy da Silva)
Central Saanich park among sites for local Garry oak restoration projects

Habitat Acquisition Trust received $140,000 in funding for 12 projects

Architect’s rendering of the 7 Erskine Lane development, showing the view from the east and south. (VDA Architecture Ltd. image)
View Royal green-lights residential development on Erskine Lane

First of two developments near Victoria General Hospital will provide 71 housing units

With the help of a $110,000 federal grant, Saanich will be adding 22 new EV chargers for its municipal fleet to reduce emissions from district operations. (Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich adds 22 new EV chargers for municipal fleet to reduce corporate emissions

Federal grant adds $110,000 jolt to project, installation to be completed fall 2022

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of May 4

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: Do you plan to travel on the Victoria Day long weekend?

It’s the unofficial start to the summer season. A time of barbecues,… Continue reading

A worker rides a bike at a B.C. Hydro substation in Vancouver, on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
BC Hydro report raises safety concerns as pandemic prompts jump in yard work

Incidents involving weekend tree trimmers, gardeners and landscapers have risen 30% since the pandemic hit

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

People line up for COVID-19 vaccination at a drop-in clinic at Cloverdale Recreation Centre on Wednesday, April 27, 2021. Public health officials have focused efforts on the Fraser Health region. (Aaron Hinks/Peace Arch News)
B.C. reports 1st vaccine-induced blood clot; 684 new COVID cases Thursday

Two million vaccine doses reached, hospital cases down

Most Read