The Squamish Wolf Pack have just one win in their first six games, which in many ways is par for the course for an expansion team in a well-established league.
The good news is that the Wolf Pack have proved they can play anybody, at least for the first half of the game.
“We’ve had some tough second periods and some tough third periods as well,” said coach Matt Samson. “But overall, it has more to do with the fact of being a new group of guys, and the schedule we’ve had to start has been pretty tough. We’ve had to play two of the best teams in the league twice each, four out of six games against Richmond and Grandview.”
The Wolf Pack’s last game was Sept. 27 against the Richmond Sockeyes. The Wolf Pack were first on the board less than five minutes in, but it would be the Wolf Pack’s only goal. The Sockeyes added two in the first, one in the second and another two in the third, including a power play goal.
On Friday, Oct. 3, the Wolf Pack will be playing the North Delta Devils for the first time at Meadow Park Arena in Whistler. Although the Devils are on a roll, beating Grandview 3-0 on their home ice, Samson sees this a chance to win.
“They are a very well-coached team… they’ve won some games, and they have a balanced attack. Their top three guys have 11 points, but it’s pretty even after that. It’s a game we can win, we know that, and we know it will be very tough as well,” he said.
Samson likes the idea of playing games in Whistler. After all, three players on his roster are from Whistler — Jesse Clemiss, Brandon Combs, and Josh Schaubroeck — and will be on the ice on Friday.
“Squamish is not too far away, and we’d like to bring Whistler fans down for games, and bring the team up to Whistler,” said Samson. “I’d like people to think of it as the corridor’s team, the Sea to Sky team that local midget players can look up to. If Whistler ever gets a Junior B team that would create a great rivalry for the two of us.”
The team has a few obvious weaknesses. The first is scoring, with the team scoring just eighth goals in its first six games. Only one of those goals has been on the power play, despite a lot of chances — although not during the last Richmond Sockeye game where the Wolf Pack were on the power play once.
Defence is improving, but starting goalie Graham Hallenbeck is still facing a lot of shots — 60 in the last game against Richmond.
“We have to create chances and draw penalties and we’re not doing it enough in games although we’re moving the puck pretty well in practices,” said Samson. “(60 shots) is quite a few too many. (Hallenbeck) is playing unbelievable, but we have to give him help and score a few goals… and we have to get the puck out and clear guys away from the net.”
The puck drops at 7:15 p.m., and admission is $8 for adults and $6 for kids and seniors. The Whistler Minor Hockey Association will also be using the game to raise funds, hosting events like a 50/50 draw.
This is the first year for the Squamish Wolf Pack, which play in the Pacific International Junior Hockey League. The team has been getting more than 400 fans a game at Brennan Park. For more information visit www.squamishwolfpack.com.