“Bigger, faster and stronger”

WolfPack men’s hockey hopes new blood will improve results this season

Adam Williams, Sports Editor Ω

If it was change the WolfPack men’s hockey team needed to take the next step in the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL), they certainly got it this summer.

Returners like Ben Bula, seen above, will have bigger roles with the WolfPack this season. Bula is one of just nine players back from last year's third place squad. Adam Williams/The Omega

Returners like Ben Bula, seen above, will have bigger roles with the WolfPack this season. Bula is one of just nine players back from last year’s third place squad. Adam Williams/The Omega

A quick scan of the team’s roster yields few familiar names — just nine on a 27-man roster. Among the losses after last season are all three of the team’s goaltenders, captain Curtis Tonello, and the team’s leading scorers, Alessio Tomassetti and Colten DeFrias.

But despite the changes, general manager Chris Hans believes the 2013 WolfPack is a better team than its 2012 counterpart.

“We’re different, but we’re bigger, faster and stronger, which in any league I think that says we’re going to show improvement this season,” he said. “We might not be as experienced in the BCIHL, but I think the skill level of the new recruits is going to complement the returning vets quite well.”

Returning players Scott Bollefer, Ben Bula and Blake Moynes will be joined on defence by Alex Martin and Ryan Cuthbert, defence partners coming over from the junior B Delta Ice Hawks, and Cameron Weir formerly of the junior B Nelson Leafs.

Hans said the original plan was for Ryan Skinner, former Kamloops Storm captain and new member of the WolfPack golf team, to round out the defence corps, but that was before Skinner made the decision to play for the golf team instead. With Skinner notifying the hockey team of his decision the day before training camp, Hans said the team was initially in a bit of a bind, but they’ve since decided to fill Skinner’s slot on the back-end by converting returning forward Travis Herlein to defence.

“He filled in when we had injuries last season and he did quite well,” Hans said. “He’s a pretty versatile hockey player and he gives us that offensive-minded player coming from the back-end.”

At forward, returners Duncan Schulz and Joshua MacDonald are going to be expected to carry a larger load for the offence this season and will play alongside Colten Schell, the leading scorer of the Nelson Leafs last season. Hans said that the team has also added three forwards from the junior A B.C. Hockey League (BCHL) in Sean Maktaak, Tyler Berkholtz and Silvan Harper. The three will round out the team’s top-six.

Tyler Jackson and Anthony Delong will also return for the offence and should help to provide some of the depth scoring that TRU struggled to find last season.

In goal, the WolfPack have had a complete makeover, saying goodbye to fixtures Riley Wall and Shane Mainprize, who have been with the team since 2010 and 2011, respectively. The WolfPack also saw the departure of Adrien Hervillard, who joined the team last season and at one point was believed to be TRU’s goalie of the future. Hervillard got into just four games last season and struggled, posting an 0-2 record with a 7.44 goals against average and an .840 save percentage.

“For Adrien, he had a number of things he needed to improve upon to ensure that he would get a regular start during the season and we kind of saw that his progression plateaued throughout the season,” Hans said. “We had a chat with him about the likelihood that he wouldn’t get a lot of ice time and he would need to continue to work on a few things before we were comfortable with him playing more — he decided it was in his best interests to move on.

General manager Chris Hans hopes that forwards like Anthony Delong, above, will be able to give the WolfPack the scoring depth that it lacked at times last season. Adam Williams/The Omega

General manager Chris Hans hopes that forwards like Anthony Delong, above, will be able to give the WolfPack the scoring depth that it lacked at times last season. Adam Williams/The Omega

“You project sometimes that players are going to reach a certain level and sometimes they reach them and sometimes they don’t.”

Hans said that the likely starter for the WolfPack would be new recruit Stephen Wolff, who played six games with the BCIHL-champion Selkirk Saints last season going 6-0, 2.62, .913, but also discussed the possibility of the team’s three goaltenders sharing time in the crease this season.

With so many new faces, it’s hard to project how the WolfPack will fare in the BCIHL this season.

In its two games on Friday Sept. 20 and Saturday Sept. 21, the ‘Pack bested SAIT 4-1 and tied Red Deer College 2-2 as part of the SAIT Icebreaker tournament and became the first B.C. team to take the title in 25 years.

“We’re really excited, it’s a good group of players,” Hans said. “We anticipate we’ll be competing for first place and hopefully have a really positive season.”