The ownership group behind the BCHL’s Alberni Valley Bulldogs decided to take the leap this summer and bring a new junior hockey team to Port Alberni. On May 27th, the VIJHL board of governors gave the Bulldogs ownership approval that they would in fact be accepted into the VIJHL, and with that the Bombers were born.
“It was a lot of work” said Bulldogs & Bombers president David Michaud. “Bringing a 2nd junior team to Port Alberni was no small task. Every time we thought we thought we had it all figured out, we remembered something new! It’s been a fun experience launching an expansion team though.”
The Bombers were born with the philosophy in mind that they wanted to have local players on the team. The hope was that graduating Port Alberni Minor Hockey players would have the chance to continue playing while getting the chance to stay at home and not have to move elsewhere in the province. As of their opening night roster, the Bombers had 10 Port Alberni players on their roster.
The other goal was to help develop future Bulldogs, something Michaud says is a key for both organizations. “We have a chance to help these young men reach the BCHL and hopefully beyond. If Bombers can become Bulldogs, it’s even sweeter!” Having players familiar with the Bulldogs strategies and on-ice philosophies will only help when they get the chance to be called up to the Bulldogs. “The Bombers will have a big advantage over other Jr B teams because of their direct relationship with our Jr A Bulldogs staff. We really see a huge benefit to the players, and of course our Bulldogs as well.” said Michaud.
The 1st head coach and general manager in team history is a former Calgary Flames draft pick Gaelan Patterson. The former WHL standout has been the associate head coach with his hometown La Ronge Ice Wolves in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League the past two seasons. The chance to take the reins of his own club, while getting the chance to work with BCHL veteran coach Joe Martin was too good of an opportunity to pass up.
The Bombers are young, and they will no doubt face some challenges as a first-year team, but Michaud feels that they will be well supported. “The support and the feedback has been fantastic from the community. China Creek Campground, Tyler’s No Frills, and of course the San Group have really stepped up as community partners to help get us off the ground. The San Group with their generous support to allow all local youth 18 & under to get into games for free is a tremendous gift to the community. We feel it will help our atmosphere and the rink and make things so affordable for families.
The Bombers play at home on Sep. 22 and Sep. 2 this week at Alberni Valley Multiplex.