The Westshore Wolves are under new ownership this season, and while the hockey side of the franchise is as important as ever, community is set to become the focus.
Shawn Vincent was announced as the new owner of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League team over the summer, and said his vision for the team is to not only provide an opportunity for young players to develop the skills and attitude needed to play at higher levels, but to also shape them into upstanding citizens.
“We want our boys out in the community doing volunteer work,” said Vincent. “I think teaching the kids to be selfless in their own community is not just a hockey thing. We are creating young men.”
Vincent said in his mind, Junior B hockey is a place for young athletes to simply play hockey and develop as players, not to win at all costs, and he is keen to ensure that philosophy is deeply rooted in the franchise.
In order to guide his players in the right direction, Vincent said he wants to grow the franchise’s connection with the community, and the community’s engagement with the team.
”We want to get back into reaching out to the community for sponsorships and partnerships for advertising,” he said. “All the rink boards are fresh, waiting for the signs to go up, so we are working with local businesses. Building up that community awareness is probably the No. 1 thing we are working on.”
Making the community building task easier, Vincent said the previous ownership group – which included Ken Carson – left the team in great shape from the hockey perspective, meaning finding a new head coach and general manager was all that was needed. Vincent found that in Derek Sweet-Coulter, who he said was a very detail-oriented coach who shares the philosophy that players should be focusing on the next game and doing their best every time they hit the ice, rather than whether or not they will make the playoffs.
Sweet-Coulter returned home by joining the Wolves, having spent the last six seasons coaching at the higher Junior A level across Canada.
Vincent said Sweet-Coulter also shares a passion for community, and regularly helps out with Belmont Secondary School’s Hockey Academy.
As for how the team is doing in their debut season under new management, Vincent said he has little to complain about from his young team.
Heading into this Wednesday’s home game against Saanich (Dec. 8, 7 p.m. start), the Wolves sat third in the South Division with a 16-10-2-1 record, six points back of second-place Peninsula Panthers.