Former Victoria Grizzlies chief will lead startup Jr. B hockey club

Former Victoria Grizzlies coach and general manager Victoria Gervais will lead the startup West Shore Wolves

West Shore Wolves team owners Dave Horner

Junior B hockey will return to Bear Mountain Arena next season with the expansion Westshore Wolves franchise.

Team owners Ken Carson, Dave Horner, Kory Gronnestad and Derrick Hamilton are behind the effort to bring junior B back to the West Shore after the downtrodden Westshore Stingers disbanded from the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League in late 2010.

Six players have been signed to the Wolves, five of whom reside on the West Shore. The owners agree that the point of starting this team is to get West Shore teenagers playing competative hockey at home.

“That’s what we did,” Hamilton remarked. “All of us played for the Juan de Fuca Gulls.”

“It was a gong show – back then it was called jungle B,” Horner joked.

All four grew up playing Juan de Fuca minor hockey and both Horner and Hamilton went on to play for the Gulls. Hamilton remembers home games bringing the community together with the arena full of friends and family, something he hopes to see for the Wolves.

It might be unrealistic, however, to expect full crowds at the Wolves giant new home, the 2,781 seat Bear Mountain Arena. But it’s a coup for the team nonetheless, sharing the city’s best rink with the B.C. Hockey League’s Victoria Grizzlies.

Home games will be Wednesday nights at 7 p.m., a friendlier time slot than the Stingers’ previous Monday night games, which didn’t start until 8 p.m. Wednesdays also fit nicely within the VIJHL’s South Island rotation. Thursday nights belong to the Victoria Cougars, while the Saanich Braves and Peninsula Panthers host their games on Fridays (the Braves also have games on Wednesdays when dates conflict).

Same barn, new coach

The Wolves scored big when Victor Gervais agreed to lead the pack as head coach and general manager. He comes in as perhaps the most qualified coach in the league, having performed the same duties the past four years for the junior A Victoria Grizzlies.

Up first for the new boss is recruiting.

“There will be a variety of different players. There will be players in their last couple years of junior B and there will young players who will get better and look to jump up to the next level,” Gervais said. “We want more local kids playing and we want to make it a community hockey club.”

“(Gervais) has a great connection (to the) junior A level,” Gronnestad said. “We want to give these kids a place to play, we don’t want to hold them back. We are here as a stepping stone for them.”

Wolves in a bear cave

When deciding on a team name, the group of West Shore businessmen were hoping to find something that started with a “W” and “Wolves” seemed a good fit.

Initially the men thought of naming the team the Bruins, to pair with the Grizzlies theme, but figured it might not sit well with (local) Canucks fans, stemming from last year’s notorious Stanley Cup finals against Boston.

“We didn’t want Canucks fans hating us,” Gronnestad said.

Feeling a draft?

The VIJHL is considering an  expansion draft this year to populate the lineup for the Wolves, but nothing is solidified yet. A junior B franchise is also in the works for Nanaimo next season.

“Having a draft is something we’ll have to work through with the (teams’) owners. It’s something I would like to see,” said Greg Batters, VIJHL president. “(The West Shore) is lucky to get these guys to come in and save this franchise.”

The Wolves are hosting a development camp July 6 to Aug. 9, at Juan de Fuca arena, for all interested players ages 16 to 20.

Visit Westshorewolves.ca for more.

No news from Nanaimo

VIJHL president Greg Batters is hoping to have Nanaimo’s application approved by B.C. Hockey by the end of the month.

With BCHL’s roster cut from 25 to 21 players,  there is plenty of high-calibre players available on the Island and around B.C. The time is right for the league to expand from seven to nine teams, he said.

 

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

Just Posted

Electrical fault results in Saanich hydro pole fire

BC Hydro crews on scene repairing damage well into the early morning hours

Langford theft investigation leads to national crime ring

More than $250,000 in stolen goods recovered, $67,000 in cash seized

Victoria man charged in stabbing death of Vancouver overdose prevention worker

Maximus Roland Hayes, 23, is facing one count of manslaughter in connection to the killing

Protesters showcase massive old yellow cedar as Port Renfrew area forest blockade continues

9.5-foot-wide yellow cedar measured by Ancient Forest Alliance campaigners in Fairy Creek watershed

VicPD uses non-lethal rounds to remove woman barricaded in stranger’s basement

The woman is believed to have broken into a dealership, attempting to steal a vehicle earlier in the evening

‘Don’t kill my mom’: Ryan Reynolds calls on young British Columbians to be COVID-smart

‘Deadpool’ celebrity responds to premier’s call for social influence support

Expected fall peak of COVID-19 in Canada could overwhelm health systems: Tam

National modelling projections released Friday show an expected peak in cases this fall

Hundreds of sea lions to be killed on Columbia River in effort to save endangered fish

Nearly 22,000 comments received during public review were opposed, fewer than 200 were for

Devil’s Hand Poker Run in Campbell River to face RCMP scrutiny

The Campbell River RCMP will be keeping a close eye on the… Continue reading

B.C.’s fuel suppliers to publish prices to provide accountability: minister

Bruce Ralston says move will ensure industry publicly accountable for unexplained prices increases

Roots and Blues online festival live tonight on Black Press Media

Tune in to Black Press Media to watch the festival live Aug. 14, 15 and 16

Man suffers serious injuries in bear attack in remote area near Lillooet

It was deemed a defensive attack, no efforts were made to locate the animal

Missed rent payments because of COVID-19? You have until July 2021 to pay up

Each monthly instalment must be paid on the same date the rent is due

U.S.-Canada pandemic border restrictions extended into September

‘We will continue to keep our communities safe,’ says Public Safety Minister Bill Blair

Most Read