- Our Town
Merritt, Wranglers scouts will be at junior hockey showcase
May will see Kitimat hosting a junior hockey showcase, bringing players, scouts and coaches together from all over northern B.C. to the town for the weekend.
There will be scouts and coaches from both the Merritt Centennials Junior A in the B.C. Hockey League and the 100 Mile House Wranglers Junior B in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL).
Merritt scout Donald Pacheco said the showcase, which will take place from May 12 to 14, is the ideal opportunity for young players from up north to get a chance to play in the big league.
“It took quite some planning to get us to host the showcase in Kitimat, but I strongly believe this will help many kids get identified and hopefully get an invite to Junior A and B main camps this fall,” said Pacheco.
His son, Skylar Pacheco, played for current Merritt Centennials coach Joe Martin when Skylar was a 16 year old in Creston in the KIJHL in 2010.
Pacheco said Joe Martin has seen three of his young players drafted into the NHL and over 30 commitments to NCAA Division 1 schools in the U.S. all while playing for Merritt.
Dale Hladun (Duner) is the head coach and general manager for the 100 Mile House Wranglers. Last year Dale’s club won the Keystone Cup, placing them as the top Junior B team in Canada.
“Both teams are excited to come to Kitimat - they know there are a lot of players in the north who love hockey,” said Pacheco. “Both coaches want to surround themselves with good people who have a work ethic
that is sometimes a lost art.”
Pacheco added that this is the first camp of significance to be held in the north in years.
He said the BCHL and KIJHL leagues are excellent development leagues, several young players from the north having played in these leagues and gone on to the next levels, the NHL, NCAA (U.S. college) and CIS.
Some notable players from Kitimat include Rod Pelley, Mike Wakita, Luke Ripley, Danny Ennis and Skylar Pacheco.
The camp is for players born between 1998 and 2002, and will include practices, goalie sessions and many games.
Pacheco said players that catch the team’s eye will possibly be invited to a main camp to be held in August.