The North Vancouver Wolf Pack hockey team is dreaming of national glory following their jump from Junior B to Junior A this week as part of major restructuring of the hockey landscape in British Columbia.
The team’s move from B to A is the result of a transformation of the BC Hockey system following the recent decision by the BCHL, formerly the province’s Junior A league, to break away from BC Hockey and become an independent league. To fill that void, all 45 of the province’s Junior B teams – playing in the Pacific Junior Hockey League, the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League and the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League – have been bumped up to Tier 2 Junior A status for the 2023-2024 season.
“The Wolf Pack is extremely excited about this opportunity for our organization and all three leagues in the province,” said Wolf Pack CEO Dean Samson. “We have always strived to operate the program to prepare our players for what it will be like at the Junior A level.”
In the coming years, some of the new Tier 2 Junior A teams will apply for Tier 1 status, with an “independent advisory board” being used to determine which teams will qualify for Tier 1 play.
Those teams that attain Tier 1 status will then become eligible to compete for the Centennial Cup, Canada’s Junior A national championship, and players and coaches would be eligible for the CJHL’s World Junior A Challenge.
Samson said that the Wolf Pack will be gunning for Tier 1 Junior A status in the coming years.
“Our organization is already in a great position to make the transition this season and beyond,” he said. “I think the Junior A template is one that we’ve always tried to operate our team under, so I don’t think it will create any great changes for us. But I’m looking forward to seeing what it will do for our league and all the other leagues.”
Samson said the Wolf Pack will set their sights as high as they possibly can.
“Long range I’d love to see the Wolf Pack, representing North Van, playing in a national championship at the Junior A level,” he said. “I think it’s something our organization can aspire to.”
All of the new Tier 2 Junior A teams will continue to participate in their established leagues as the Tier 1 evaluation process takes place, meaning the Wolf Pack’s 2023-24 PJHL campaign will look very similar to previous seasons.