Sylvan Pirates set sail for future as Blackfalds' NCHL team

There will be a Blackfalds Wranglers team playing this season - albeit a Senior AA version as the Junior B team that relocated to Sylvan Lake. The team will play their season in Bentley, but are hoping to grab icetime in the town next season. Ashli Barrett / Lacombe Globe

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The Blackfalds Wranglers Junior B team may have ditched town, but a Senior AA version is now destined for the community.

The Sylvan Lake Pirates, the newest organization in the North Central Hockey League (NCHL), who were never able to lay claim to ice time in Sylvan, are taking on the Blackfalds Wranglers name, and will look to move into the community for good in the 2020-21 season.

“In the summer, we were made aware there wasn’t going to be room for us in Sylvan anymore,” said President Braeden Grant. “When the (Junior) Wranglers moved into Sylvan Lake, we jumped on the opportunity to move into Blackfalds and make a spot for us there.”

The team entered the NCHL as an expansion team in 2018-19, however, with ice time at a premium throughout central Alberta, found themselves forced to play in Bentley rather than at the NexSource Centre in Sylvan Lake.

They’d hoped to find ice time this season in Sylvan, but that became harder still as the former Junior B Blackfalds Wranglers moved into town with a 30-game schedule, so the team explored options throughout central Alberta and eventually settled on Blackfalds.

They officially adopted the Blackfalds Sr. Wranglers name in August, hoping to make themselves known and court support before they officially move into the community next season, as the ice time left by the junior team was quickly taken by Blackfalds Minor Hockey.

“As far as just going with Blackfalds Wranglers, we thought if we went with a name that’s known in the hockey community it’s something we can build with,” said Grant. “We’ll play our games in Bentley again this year, but we’re practicing and all that good stuff in Blackfalds.”

Last year, the team finished with a 3-10-0-3 record – seventh out of the NCHL’s nine teams. They were still able to squeak into the playoffs, however, quickly had their ship sunk by the Red Deer Rustlers in the first round as they were swept in three straight games in a best-of-five series.

This year, they’ll work to improve upon that with many returning players.

“This is our second year. It’s Senior AA hockey, so it’s still a competitive league for anyone from 18 (years old) to however old they want to play,” he said. “We’re just looking to be a competitive team and hopefully make a run for the league title.”

The team will face the Red Deer Rustlers in an exhibition game in Penhold on Sept. 27 at 7:45 p.m.

Their first game of the regular season will also be against the Rustlers in Penhold on Saturday, Oct. 12 at 7:30 p.m.

They’ll have their home opener on Sunday, Oct. 13 against the Devon Barons at the Bentley Arena with puckdrop at 2:30 p.m.

Regular season schedule is as follows:

  • Saturday, Oct. 12 @ Red Deer,
    Penhold Arena 7:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, Oct. 13 vs. Devon,
    Bentley Arena 2:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, Oct. 20 vs. Westlock,
    Bentley Arena 2 p.m.
  • Sunday, Oct. 27 vs. Fort Saskatchewan
    Bentley Arena 2 p.m.
  • Saturday, Nov. 2 @ Morinville
    Morinville Leisure Centre 8:15 p.m.
  • Sunday, Nov. 3 vs. Eckville,
    Bentley Arena 2:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, Nov. 9 @ Fort Saskatchewan
    8:15 p.m.
  • Saturday, Nov. 23 @ Westlock,
    Rotary Spirit Centre 8:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, Nov. 24 vs. Bonnyville
    Bentley Arena 2 p.m.
  • Saturday, Nov. 30 @ Daysland,
    Daysland Arena 7:30 p.m.
  • Friday Dec. 13 @ Devon,
    Dale Fisher Arena 8 p.m.
  • Sunday, Dec. 15 vs. Morinville,
    Bentley Arena 2:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, Dec. 21 @ Eckville,
    Gary Moe Auto Group Sportsplex in Lacombe 8 p.m.
  • Saturday, Jan. 4 @ Bonnyville,
    Centennial Centre 7:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, Jan. 12 vs. Daysland,
    Bentley Arena 2:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, Jan. 19 vs. Red Deer,
    Bentley Arena 2:30 p.m.

 

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