100 Mile House Wranglers Junior B Hockey Club president Tom Bachynski got an early Christmas present on Dec. 6.
That’s when he heard that 100 Mile will have a Junior B hockey team in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League in 2013.
Noting he was letting people know about the bidding process for the annual Celebration of Lights fundraiser at Central GM that night, Bachynski says he was in the middle of his introduction when his cell phone rang.
“… my phone rings and it was one of the teams I knew was going to vote ‘yes’ for us, so I answered in and he said, ‘I don’t have the phone number for the conference call, do you have it?’ I didn’t have it on me, so I had to run upstairs and get it for him.
“Then around [7:40 p.m.], I got a text message from the league saying we were in. It was a 15-2 vote, so it was an overwhelming ‘yes’ to let us in.”
This is how the Wranglers learned its bid to purchase the Penticton Lakers was approved by the league.
Bachynski was absolutely ecstatic about the results.
It was a far different emotion for Bachynski than the one he had in early May when he learned the Revelstoke Grizzlies would be staying in that community and not coming to 100 Mile House.
Meanwhile, the club president notes they still have one more hurdle to get over before it’s official that the Lakers franchise is being handed over to the Wranglers.
The club now has to get approval from Hockey BC, he explains.
Hockey BC has rarely, if ever, denied a franchise move, he says, adding that if the league says it’s good, it’s done.
“We’re going to take a few days and revel in our success and then we’ve got to get down to work.”
Bachynski says the club’s executive will be getting together to map out a plan of attack.
“Certainly, we need to do a couple of things. We have to bolster our numbers … we need to get some more volunteers, and we have some fundraising we have to do because we have to raise a bunch of money.”
The local club purchased the Penticton Lakers from the Okanagan Hockey Academy, but because the franchise is run by the OHA, the Wranglers got none of the club’s assets in the exchange.
“This is like a scratch franchise because [the Lakers] is run by a hockey school and it releases the players at the end of each season.
“We have to buy every stick, every piece of tape, every shin pad – whatever, we have to buy it all. We have some plans for some great fundraising ideas next year, but we’re going to be leaning on the community to help us get there. I think we’re going to do it with value added products … it will all work out.”
He adds they intend to have a spring camp to look at players they can pick up for next season.
“Really we have to put our nuts and bolts for our [club] together, so we’re ready to go. In my mind, I see a window of about three months that we have to be about as ready as we can be, so we can take the summer to develop our hockey program to be ready for the main camp in August.”
Bachynski says the club has marketing plans and will be talking to the 300 or so folks who have already committed to purchasing season’s tickets in the new year.
“Right now, we just need to enjoy the moment. It’s been a long journey and it’s had lots of ups-and-downs, and last night was the best Christmas gift we could have asked for.”
Meanwhile, Bachynski says the local club wishes the Penticton Lakers all of the best for the rest of the season.
“We apologize to the fans of the Penticton Lakers, but it is business and we certainly look forward to the team moving up here,” he adds.
“Okanagan Hockey Academy has been an unbelievably good partner through this process and with Andy Oakes, who has been their lead man, we have nothing but good things to say about him and that organization.”
The final purchase completion date for the franchise is 10 days after the league is finished for the season, and Bachynski says that is when the second cheque goes in.
– Ken Alexander
– 100 Mile House Free Press