Victory come home for a “soft opening”

Vancouver junior hockey team hosts its first weekend

By Paul Danzer, Columbian community sports reporter

Published:

 

At 3-0, the Vancouver Victory are off to a fast start on the ice.

But the Northern Pacific Hockey League junior hockey team plans to ease into its home schedule this weekend.

The games at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday are the first chance for area fans to see the product of this retooled organization. But don’t expect special events this weekend.

Clay Bonds, the vice president in charge of the business side of the team, said the Victory will use this weekend as a trial run of sorts for what he hopes will be a bigger splash in mid-November.

The Southern Oregon Spartans (4-1), along with Seattle expected to be one of the better teams in the NORPAC, visit Vancouver on Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, the Glacier Nationals from Whitefish, Mont., is the opponent at Mountain View Ice Arena.

On the ice, the Victory have so far lived up to their name. Vancouver is 3-0, with brothers Bordak line helping to lead the way. Avik Bordak has six goals and six assists, Elijah Bordak has two goals and eight assists, and Joe Bordak has three goals and five assists.

Head coach John Nogatch said that contributions from multiple lines, and solid play on both the penalty kill and the power play have fueled the three wins.

Nogatch said the 3-0 start is both encouraging and challenging for the coaches.

“Early success is good. It shows other teams in the league that we have a competitive team here,” Nogatch said.

The flip side, he said, is guarding against overconfidence.

“When you win right away the guys think it’s going to be easy,” Nogatch said. “It’s not easy. It takes hard work, and we’ve got a lot of hard work to do.”

The same is true for the front office, Bonds said.

Pointing to experience from a similar role with the Vancouver Volcanoes of the International Basketball League, Bonds said his goal is to make Victory games fun for both hockey fans and for families looking for entertainment.

Bonds said his goal is to draw between 500 and 1,000 fans to home games this season. To do that, he said he will focus on family-friendly activities — including postgame autograph sessions with players and a children’s play area — and entertainment for fans during breaks in the hockey action.

“If the kids are having fun, they’re going to want to come back again and again,” Bonds said.

With that in mind, Bonds is calling this weekend’s games a “soft opening.”

He said the goal this weekend is to work through game operations kinks. The team is promoting its Nov. 12 game against the Yellowstone Quake of Cody, Wyo., as its grand opening. Activities under discussion for that event include a pregame tailgating experience outside Mountain View Ice Arena.

The Victory is the new name for the River City Jaguars team that played at Mountain View Ice Arena last season. Andrew Vilcauskas is the majority owner. He bought the team from NORPAC founding member John McBride.

The Victory play at the Tier III level of USA junior hockey. Junior hockey is for players ages 16-20. The NORPAC is essentially three skill levels below the Western Hockey League, which includes the Portland Winterhawks.

IF YOU GO

Vancouver Victory hockey

7 p.m. Friday vs. Southern Oregon; 7 p.m. Saturday vs. Southern Oregon; 1 p.m. Sunday vs. Glacier.

Where: Mountain View Ice Arena, 14313 S.E. Mill Plain.

Tickets: Adults $9; Ages 7-17 $6; under 7 free.

On the Web:http://vancouvervictory.pointstreaksites.com/view/vancouvervictory/home-page