With the approval of the AJHL to relocate the St. Albert franchise to the Town of Whitecourt this week, the Whitecourt Wolverines are pleased and excited to see the realization of a dream.
Greg Parks following the approval by the league announced with Brent Stark the merger of the former Steel and Wolverines organizations. “We feel that Whitecourt has within it a quality organization that can do nothing but help us hit the ground running”, said Parks “The Wolverines have proven that they are a Championship Team off the ice and I welcome their help and support as the newest members to the AJHL.”
For the Wolverines Brent Stark also expressed his pleasure with the news. “I have been asked a lot in recent weeks what we thought about the proposed move of the Junior A club to our community. I have always said that we wanted Junior A here and with this announcement it is finally going to happen!”
With regard to the merging of the two organizations, Stark said, “We have developed a great team here in Whitecourt that has always been based on a Junior A type structure. The inclusion of our people in the overall running of the club was a simple one to make and we are glad to be a part of it.”
NEW TEAM COLOURS
With the developments the team announced some changes immediately. The name “STEEL” will be replaced with the local favourite “WOLVERINES”. “This town identifies with the Wolverine name given what we have achieved over the past five years. We see no reason to change the name that so many fans identify with as their team.” said Stark.
The one change that fans will notice will be the team colours. Going from the traditional Black and Gold the team will now sport Red, White and Black. “Last season we really began to appreciate the work of Minor Hockey in Whitecourt,” said Stark, “It was with that in mind that we wanted to salute the work so many volunteers and parents put into Minor Hockey so we decided to change our colours to match theirs.”
JUNIOR “A” HOCKEY…and what it means to Whitecourt
The advent of the new era in junior hockey in Whitecourt brings with it benefits not seen in the Junior B Ranks.
First and foremost fans will notice an increased skill level on the ice. “These players are very serious about their hockey careers and what it can mean to them as individuals.” said the teams new Coach & GM Joey Bouchard. “They still have a great chance at collegiate scholarships as well as the professional leagues to advance their careers.”
Last season over 60 Alberta junior A players received scholarships from various colleges throughout North America from such notables as Queens University, Harvard and Yale.
Stark also expanded on the education front by saying, “This is what we have strived for all along. Providing opportunity for local kids to not only play at the highest level but to also have a shot at going to a great school and maybe even the pros. When we formed the Stark Sports Society last year this is exactly what we had in mind.”
In addition to the educational components of Junior A Hockey, the Town of Whitecourt now joins an exclusive club within the province. It becomes one of only 16 communities to have been decided as worthy of hosting a Junior A Franchise. In recent years, the AJHL has repeatedly shied away from granting any expansion franchises to other communities.
The benefit to this fact is the obvious exposure for the town and region as an up and coming community.
“The Mayor (Trevor Thain) and Council along with Jay Granley and his staff have been a silent but a key component in all of this.” said Brent Stark. “We have met repeatedly on the organizations behalf and have had nothing but support from the Mayor. This new era for the Town could not have been possible without the Mayor.”
When asked about support from the province Stark answered, “George as we all know from his recent bets is a huge Wolverine supporter. We will obviously look for help from him in areas important not only to the team by the community as well”.
In answer to that question, Stark stated, “We have a lot of work to do over the summer. But the first thing fans will see will be the sale of the season tickets beginning sooner rather than later”.
In the same light, the organization has also begun making plans to create more than a hockey game for those who go to see a game. ‘We want this to be an experience for the whole family and I guarantee fans will appreciate that thought we put into game night.”
For further information, please call 780 779 6755 (Marc Chayer).