Sylvan Lake is the new home of a Heritage Junior B Hockey League team.
At the league’s annual general meeting June 2 the Board of Directors approved the relocation request by the Blackfalds Wranglers to Sylvan Lake as early as next season.
“We found out in May that Blackfalds would be getting a Junior A franchise and we just felt that it would be difficult to compete… with two teams in that market,” said Kurt Spady, Wranglers’ general manager.
“We draw a lot of players from Sylvan Lake and there’s a lot of alumni still in the area,” explained Spady. “We decided to explore that feasibility and it seems like everything is falling into place.”
The Sylvan Lake Wranglers are hoping to start up this upcoming 2019-20 season.
Spady says the organization has approached the Town and is waiting on an agreement to use the arena. Ice times also need to be worked out with the Sylvan Lake Minor Hockey Association.
“The thing about our team is that it’s a lot different than say a Junior A club that needs ice time every day… really we don’t need a lot of ice time,” Spady said, adding the team only practices once a week and can be done in the evenings.
The Wranglers, in the past, had played home games on Tuesday nights or Sunday afternoons, but can be flexible to fit into the NexSource Centre schedule.
“I think our impact on ice time is probably minimal so I’m hoping that it would work out,” continued Spady,
An exciting bonus for the team, and town, is the franchise being named the hosts of the Hockey Alberta Junior B Provincial Playoffs in the spring of 2020.
Originally the team had planned to use the arena in Blackfalds and the arena in Lacombe, but hosting at the NexSource Centre is a better opportunity, according to Spady.
“In an inaugural year it will really showcase, not only just the team, but what Sylvan Lake has to offer,” Spady said.
He added hosting guarantees the team a place in the tournament, which could be a good way to get people excited about the team, and get people on board to be long-term supporters and partners.
Despite all the excitement surrounding the move, there comes some sadness with leaving Blackfalds.
“Blackfalds is great. The people of Blackfalds are great and the Town’s been great to us and the community support has been excellent, so that’s definitely been a great experience,” said Spady. “It’s disappointing that we have to leave Blackfalds, there’s a lot of history there and great partnerships and people and memories.”
He says leaving Blackfalds will be tough, but doesn’t think they could have a more ideal place to go than Sylvan Lake.
Spady explained he and the Board of Directors feel fortunate the opportunity presented itself “in a fantastic community like Sylvan Lake.”
Part of the Wranglers tradition is community involvement through partnerships with the schools, local businesses and minor hockey.
The Wranglers would go to schools to read to the students, have minor hockey kids skate before games and be on ice for the national anthem, jersey night with free entry to the game and even hosted movie day fundraisers.
“We had a great program, which we’d like to continue … [in] Sylvan Lake,” said Spady.
The move has been approved by the league, but logistics are still being finalized with the Town of Sylvan Lake and the Sylvan Lake Minor Hockey Association for a 2019-20 inaugural season.
Follow Kaylyn Whibbs on Twitter