The Vegreville Rangers are back.
After not participating the previous two seasons in the North Eastern Alberta Junior B Hockey League, the Rangers are gearing up for the 2022-23 season, with a new head coach in Trevor Carter and a camp upcoming to identify 2002 to 2006-born talent.
Carter takes the reigns as coach having being involved in Whitecourt AA programs and as a goaltending skills coach.
“I thought this would be a great opportunity, because they haven’t had a team in the last two years. So building a team from scratch and changing the culture around the team was my goal and what I set out to do,” Carter told Lakeland Connect.
“It’s been really good since they announced me as a coach. I went there for my first meeting with the executive and I was welcomed in the community right away.”
The NEAJBHL has fluctuated with franchises in recent years, but is seeing a resurgence in communities that have folded in years past.
The Lac La Biche Clippers and Onion Lake Border Chiefs are gearing up to return in the fall as well, putting the league back at nine clubs.
The Rangers upcoming Prospects Camp is August 6-7 at Castledowns Arena in Edmonton. With a focus on building from the ground up, Vegreville will also partner with Junior A teams in the province and Saskatchewan to provide an opportunity to advance players through the ranks. That’s often an important aspect of attracting players to your team.
“We’re starting to sign some players and show these kids that this is what we’re doing. We’re getting a lot more interest. It’s also we’re starting to see younger interest being your 2004s and 2005s that are looking to really get in,” said Carter.
“The team is gonna start coming together this weekend at the Prospects Camp. It’s gonna give me a good sample size to see what these kids can do.”
The presence of the Rangers around the Vegreville community will be amped up as well. The Junior B’s will join minor hockey on their parade float next weekend, while also emphasizing the importance of volunteerism and giving back.
“I was a volunteer with Whitecourt Minor Hockey and the director of the AA program for a long time. Volunteering and giving back to the communities and the players, just as I have when I was growing up, is super important to make sure that the game continues to thrive at the younger and grassroots level,” he said.
There are still spots available for the Prospect Camp next weekend.
They are looking for 20 forwards and 10 defencemen to round out the camp, which will be a three game round-robin format that leads up to a winner’s bracket on Sunday.
The cost to register is $200 and 2002 to 2006-born players, 2001-born overagers are welcome as well, can contact Carter at 780-262-0132 to sign up.
“I’m looking to be a very competitive team. And we definitely want to build a winning culture. So if kids are looking for a place to play, where they are going to be supported by a coach with new level thinking and concepts — that’s what I’m going to be.”