Wenatchee, WA. – Wenatchee Amateur Hockey Association (WAHA) and the Wenatchee Wild have agreed to a partnership for the 2016-17 season. WAHA will add teams in the Tier 1, U14, U16, and U18 divisions. The goal of these programs will be to provide the top athletes in the area, combined with high level recruits from out of the area, with elite development at the highest level of midget hockey in the country. These programs will feature full-time professional coaching staffs with the development model designed to help players maximize their ability while receiving the exposure needed to move on to the higher levels of the game.
WAHA President Joe Gurnard commented on the agreement, “I am pleased to build on the success of the Wild’s program by adding a youth component that allows local players an opportunity to train and compete at a high level without having to leave home to do it. The model of weekend development and games is unique and can keep highly skilled kids from around the state living at home but still competing at a higher level than their local program may provide.”
Currently, the Wenatchee Wild sponsor two teams, the Wenatchee Wolverines U14 and Wenatchee Wolves U18 teams. The Wolves U18 team will essentially stay the same for the players but will now fall under the WAHA umbrella. It is a hockey-academy style program where players live in Wenatchee, attend school full-time, and train in a highly structured daily environment. The Wolves will remain in the NAPHL, one of the top Tier 1 leagues in the country.
The Wolverines U14 program is currently a before and after team, where the players play for their hometown program during the season but play for the Wolverines in the fall and spring. The U14 Wolverines program and the new U16 program will now become full-season teams. The U14 and U16 teams will remain a weekend only program. This allows the players live at home and go to school in their hometown during the week. They will travel to Wenatchee for practice/development weekends throughout the year, while also competing in Tier 1 showcases. These Tier 1 showcases will give players high levels of exposure and the opportunity to compete against some of the top teams in the US and Canada while receiving high levels of exposure.
Highlights of the Wenatchee Wild Development Teams include the following:
· Affiliate teams of the Wenatchee Wild (BCHL).
· Full-time Junior A and NCAA experienced coaching staff.
· Exposure playing in elite Tier 1 AAA showcases.
· Compete against some of the best teams in the US & Canada.
· High practice to game ratio.
· Certified strength and conditioning coaches.
· Steva Video utilized for learning high-level hockey concepts.
· Bench Metrics utilized for statistical tracking.
· Advising designed to help individual players and families navigate the various development routes.
The Wild Development Teams staff will include Ryan McKelvie, Jake Obermeyer, and at least two more experienced staff member to be hired. McKelvie’s background includes three years as a NCAA D1 assistant coach, three years as a NCAA D3 head coach, and two years as the assistant coach for the Wild. Obermeyer’s background includes a six year professional career in the ECHL and CHL, along with experience as a player in the USHL and NCAA D1 levels. The U14, U16, and U18 players will also have periodic access to the Wenatchee Wild coaching staff which is led by Head Coach/GM Bliss Littler, the all-time winningest coach in US Junior Hockey history at the Tier 1 and 2 levels.
Littler had this to say about the development teams, “…………..We could not be happier to help fill this void in elite level hockey that is missing in the central part of the state of Washington. This is something we are invested in to make work. The concept of the U16 and U14 weekend teams make a lot of sense for this part of the country. The player will be able to live at home and go to school with his friends and still be able to compete at a very high level of hockey and be coached by some very high end coaches that have a track record of being very good development coaches. These coaches and programs will have full access to all of the resources that the Wenatchee Wild have. We look forward to helping make these programs something special that everyone involved is proud of.
The Wenatchee Wild Development Teams will hold tryout camps this off-season. The Wolves U18 tryout camp is scheduled for May 13-15, while the U14 and U16 tryout camps are scheduled for June 3-5. Check the Wild or Wolves website for more details at www.wenatcheewild.com and www.wenatcheewolves.com.
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