Wranglers rope up new coach
Steamboat Springs — Troy Mick climbed the ranks of the hockey world, from player to coach and general manager and finally, several years ago, to a part-owner of a Canadian junior hockey team.
That last step disqualified him, by league rule, from coaching his team, the Salmon Arm (British Columbia) Silverbacks, and he figured his days on the bench were done.
Mick, however, is there. One of the main figures behind the new local junior hockey team, the Steamboat Wranglers, Mick has taken over coaching duties in Steamboat.
The previous coach, Misko Antisin, was bumped up to coach the squad in Salmon Arm after Mick, general manager for that team, fired coach Brandon West midway through his third season as head coach with the club.
“It was a natural progression to bring someone in who knew the program,” Mick said of Antisin’s move from Steamboat to Salmon Arm.
Both programs are owned by the same group, and Steamboat, a tier 3 junior hockey team, is sort of a farm system for the Salmon Arm team, a tier 1 squad.
“I knew what Misko was all about, and it was an easy transition,” Mick said. “Then I didn’t have a coach in Steamboat, so I came down. Here I am coaching again, which I never thought I’d be able to do”
The Wranglers, playing in their inaugural season, have settled squarely into the middle of the Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League, third out of the five teams. They’re 6-9-1, though four of those losses have come in overtime, and the team had amassed 17 points by Saturday — one shy of second-place Aspen, with an 8-7-1 record.
Steamboat picked up an important win Friday against Aspen, winning 3-1 in a game played in Glenwood Springs’ open-air rink.
Steamboat Springs High School standout Jack McNamara scored a short-handed goal in the game, one of five he’s scored this season. That ranks him tied for second on the team, behind Kameron Fink’s seven goals.
McNamara also has 12 assists, and his 17 overall points lead the squad.
The team has already sent several players up to play in Salmon Arm, though it’s added players, as well. It recently brought three new Canadians onboard, Easton Jones, Sean Moleschi and Jayden Dale.
“We knew we needed a few more players, so I gained these kids, all from my area in Salmon Arm,” Mick said. “We have a full roster for games — a 25-man roster we can use, and it’s going really well.”
The team played late Saturday again on the road against Aspen. It is on the road next weekend, as well, with a pair of games against the Colorado Rampage.
The Wranglers return home for four consecutive games over two weekends Dec. 16 and 17 and Dec. 30 and 31.
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The National Weather Service in Grand Junction has issued a winter storm warning for much of the West Slope ahead of a major weather system expected in the area starting Thursday.