Wranglers refresh staff with move from Blackfalds to Sylvan Lake

Dayton Playford of the Blackfalds Wranglers keeps control of the puck while being pressured by Ponoka Stampeder Captain Kieran Bulloch during Heritage Junior Hockey League action Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018 at the Blackfalds Multi-plex Arena. Next season, players will have a slightly new look as the team takes on its new Sylvan Lake name, as well as new coaches. Ashli Barrett / Lacombe Globe

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SYLVAN LAKE, ALTA. – On May 31, 2019, the Blackfalds Wranglers Junior Hockey Club Board of Directors
voted unanimously in favour of relocating their franchise to Sylvan Lake for the 2019-2020 season of the
Heritage Junior Hockey League (HJHL).

Since that date, a group of volunteers comprised of original members of the organization, along with new members of the Sylvan Lake community, have been working diligently to begin forming the coaching staff for the upcoming season.

The Sylvan Lake Wranglers are proud to announce the appointment of Pat Garritty as the team’s head coach for their first season in Sylvan Lake, accompanied by Assistant Coaches Bryce Campbell and Karson French.

Pat Garritty is entering the Junior ranks after a very long minor hockey coaching career. He first started coaching in the Sylvan Lake Minor Hockey system in 1990 when he was an assistant coach with Bantam AA Bulldogs, a team that captured a provincial championship.

Garritty then went on to coach nearly 30 years of minor hockey that included 4 years in Red Deer with the Red Deer Optimist Chiefs as an assistant. In those years, they laid claim to four provincial titles and two Air Canada Cup (now the Telus Cup) silver medals. He also has WHL experience with the Red Deer Rebels where he was the director of sales and marketing from 1993-1999 and in 1995, he won the WHL’s Marketing Director of the Year. After Brent Sutter purchased the team, Garritty acted as the Rebels’ Assistant GM and Alternate Governor for the 1999-2000 season. Most recently he has been coaching his son’s teams and last year he guided the West Central Midget AA Tigers to a regular season North Division title.

Bryce Campbell is a product of the Sylvan Lake Minor Hockey Association, and has spent the past three seasons behind the bench with the West Central Midget AA Tigers. He is also an alumnus of the HJHL, including a memorable season with the 2005-056 Red Deer Vipers, who won the provincial title, as well as the Keystone Cup, awarded to the top Junior B team in Western Canada.

The championship pedigree continues with the third member of the coaching staff, Karson French, who suited up with the Blackfalds Wranglers for three seasons, which included an HJHL Championship in 2010, and combined Provincial and Keystone Cup title in 2011. Karson has also played for the Daysland Stars of the North Central Hockey League for the past seven seasons, and helped them capture five league championships and one Provincial gold medal.

Team President Wendell Jones is thrilled with the group that has come forward to lead this team for the first year in Sylvan Lake.

“When we began this search, it was imperative that we find enthusiastic, local talent to ensure a smooth transition and a successful season on the ice. We are fortunate to have such an experienced, versatile group step forward with one goal in mind, working together to build a powerhouse franchise for this town to enjoy for years to come,” he said.

Head Coach Pat Garritty echoed those words.

“This is an amazing opportunity for our town to have a team in the HJHL and to get a franchise like Blackfalds that has such a rich, proud  history is just a bonus. The quality of hockey in this league is outstanding and will provide affordable family entertainment while giving a team for local players to go after their minor hockey days are over.”

With the relocation to Sylvan Lake, the Wranglers are poised to develop two key rivalries within Central Alberta, with their neighbours to the east, the Red Deer Vipers, and the newly established expansion franchise Rocky Rams to the west.

The schedule for the Wranglers will be released shortly, but Sylvan Lake residents can look forward to some exciting hockey at the NexSource Centre all winter long.

For more information on the upcoming season, visit www.sylvanlakewranglers.com.

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