Junior Hockey returns to Williams Lake following sale of KIJHL franchise from Summerland

By Contributor
March 24th, 2024

The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League announced today that the Summerland Steam franchise has been sold and relocated to Williams Lake, where they will now be known as the Mustangs.

The sale and move was approved unanimously by the KIJHL’s Board of Governors and will take effect immediately.

With the addition of the Mustangs, the KIJHL geographic footprint expands nearly 100 kilometres to the northwest and adds a natural rival for the Cariboo’s existing team, the 100 Mile House Wranglers.

The new Williams Lake franchise will be owned and operated by a local group consisting of Tyrel and Robin Lucas, Gerald Overton, Brad Paddison, Parnell Pinette, and Aaron and Nathan Zurak.

Collectively, they bring decades of hockey experience at the junior, college and professional levels, as well as an extensive background and reputation within the local business community.

“We’re thrilled to welcome the Mustangs franchise to the KIJHL and mark the return of junior hockey to Williams Lake,” says KIJHL commissioner Jeff Dubois.

“Our Board of Governors was very impressed by the commitment and enthusiasm shown by the individuals who make up the local ownership group, and we can’t wait to see the Mustangs hit the ice this fall.”

“Our group is excited to be part of a group that has been able to bring junior hockey back to Williams Lake, and more specifically, bring back the iconic ‘Mustangs’ brand,” says Parnell Pinette, who will serve as the team’s Governor.

“Growing up watching the Mustangs and aspiring to play that level in front of hundreds of screaming friends and family is a dream, and now we are able to give our local hockey talent that same opportunity. Williams Lake is such a great sports town and we hope to build something they can be proud of. We’d like to thank the KIJHL for this opportunity.”

The Mustangs will play out of the 1,100-seat Cariboo Memorial Recreation Centre, with renovations planned prior to the 2024/25 season to enhance team spaces, including the dressing room, team offices and broadcast area.

Tyrel Lucas will serve as the team’s first Head Coach and General Manager.

The Williams Lake minor hockey product enjoyed a successful junior playing career in the KIJHL, BCHL and WHL, as well as at the University of Calgary, before he played professionally with the Shreveport Mudbugs of the Central Hockey League from 2007-2011.

“Williams Lake has an extensive hockey history, and the resurrection of the Mustangs name is our way of honouring that,” says Lucas.

“We hope to embrace the history and build a team on the foundation of grit, determination, hard work, and passion that defines our community. The team will give more local players the opportunity to elevate their hockey careers and play at the Junior A level, and it will provide them with the chance to do so closer to their home community.”

The Summerland Steam had been a member of KIJHL since joining the league as an expansion club in 2010. The team was most recently owned by Sean Paxman and Bob Liu.

“The KIJHL would like to thank all those individuals who worked incredibly hard over many years as part of the Summerland Steam organization, including the team’s many volunteers and billets, as well as their fans,” says Dubois.

“The Hogg family — Steve, Betsy and Tim — deserve special recognition for their dedication and contributions to the Steam and the KIJHL.”

Further details regarding Mustangs franchise, including season ticket information, spring camp dates and locations, and staffing announcements will be released in the coming weeks.

This post was syndicated from https://thenelsondaily.com
Categories: Sports