The Wenatchee Wilderness U16 hockey team took a huge step this past season. Originally a weekend-only program, the Wilderness transitioned into a full-time billet program for the 2019-20 season, meaning players came to live, skate, and attend classes locally all season long. Winning a state championship was only a part of what turned out to be an immensely successful campaign.
The Wilderness are one of four Development Teams affiliated with the Wenatchee Wild of the BCHL and operate under the Wenatchee Amateur Hockey Association (WAHA). The team competed against regional opponents and also participated in Showcase Tournaments in places such as Boston, Omaha, Chicago, and Calgary to name a few.
The team is led by Head Coach Ryan McKelvie, co-Head Coach Kyle Brodie, and Assistant Coach Jordan McTaggart. The Wilderness finished the season with an overall record of 35-18-3 (.652). In the East Coast Elite League (ECEL) where the Wilderness compete in 16U Premier Division, they led the division in goals scored (66), posted a record of 9-4-2, and went on to be crowned ECEL Premier Division Play-Off Champions. In games played against in-state Tier I opponents, Wenatchee posted a perfect 11-0-0 mark, earning the State Championship, and going on to place 2nd at Pacific Districts. The Wilderness also claimed the championship in the inaugural Wenatchee Wild BCHL Showcase. From a team standpoint, the Wilderness enjoyed an incredible season full of accomplishments.
Individual accolades were plentiful as well. Cade Littler, Rylan Yates, Connor Jensen, and Braeden Bovey were all named to the ECEL All-Star Team. Bovey was named ECEL Playoff MVP, and Littler was named the ECEL Top Performing Forward. Littler had the opportunity to skate two games with the Wild this season and earned a tryout with the US National Development Team.
Over the course of 56 games, the volatile Wilderness offense was led in goals by Cade Littler (46g) and assists by Rylan Yates (54a). Littler’s 90 points overall was tops in that category. Connor Jensen led the blueliners overall with 49 points (10g, 39a).
At the end of the year, players voted on Team Awards, including the “Wilderness Award” which is presented to the player who best exemplifies the attributes of what a team member should be. These traits include being a person of integrity, hard worker, and being a great teammate. The “Wilderness Award” recipient was Stu Carruthers. The MVP Award was shared by Cade Littler and Rylan Yates. Maintaining an emphasis on the importance of keeping current on schooling, the team Academic Award was also shared by Luke Basanta and Joel Lyrintzis.
Wilderness Head Coach and Hockey Director for the Development Teams Ryan McKelvie reflected on the season, saying, “It was a very exciting season for our U16-Wilderness team. In the first season as a full-time billet program, the players established this program as a nationally competitive program by finishing second place at the Pacific District tournament and winning three different championships along the way. During the season, the team competed with some of the top teams around the country. More importantly, we saw significant team and individual development for our players and had players getting interest from the NCAA D1 programs and from the top Junior A leagues in North America.”
Stay up to date with the Wenatchee Wild all year round on Facebook (facebook.com/wenatcheewildhockey), Twitter (@WenatcheeWild1), YouTube (Wen Wild), Snapchat (wwildhockey), Instagram (Wenatchee_wild), and on the team’s official website (wenatcheewildhockey.com). Home game pics are online at wildhockeyphotos.com.
Development Team Website: http://wenatcheewilddevelopmentteams.com/