A Van Halen cover band will help the Vancouver Rangers ring in the 2016-17 hockey season on Friday at Mountain View Ice Arena.
Just how much noise the junior hockey team can make during its second season in the Western States Hockey League is difficult to predict. But coach and general manager Dave Daniello said matching last season’s 30 wins is a reasonable target.
The path to those wins will be different — at least that is Daniello’s plan.
As an expansion team last season, the Rangers’ 278 goals scored were the fourth most in the 29-team league. But only eight teams in the league allowed more than the 242 goals that opponents scored in Vancouver’s 52 regular-season games.
“We will be a better defensive team,” Daniello said.
The need for improvement in the defensive zone was hammered home in the playoffs, when Vancouver was swept in the first round by a Whitefish team that won 10 fewer games and scored 88 fewer goals than the Rangers did in the regular season.
That result convinced Daniello to look for players with a reputation for effort. He said that effort and commitment were on the top of his list as he recruited teenagers to play in Vancouver this season.
“That was by design. We just wanted really hard-working guys,” Daniello said.
The job of building the Rangers into a successful organization was largely Daniello’s alone last season. An offseason ownership change and the addition of associate head coach Ben Dufour should help Daniello focus more on the details of player development.
Daniello now is a part-owner of the Rangers. A group headed by Texas businessman Parker Cowand purchased the team from original owners Spencer and Greg Jamison. Cowand’s son Spence was the Rangers captain as a 20-year-old last season. The ownership group includes Vancouver resident Jerry Adamowicz.
A group of 26 players have been with the Rangers during training camp. Paul Frys, a 19-year-old forward from Portland, is the team captain. Frys is the top returning scorer for the Rangers, with 22 goals and a team-leading 45 assists last season.
Russian forward Vlad Polyashov, 18, scored 17 goals in 40 games with the Rangers last season.
Jake Rushlow, a 20-year-old Michigan native, is a key returnee on defense. Among the key additions on defense is Donvan Tehan, 18, from Florida.
Two of the four goalies on the roster return from last season. Maine native Aaron Daniello, son of Dave Daniello, is in his 20-year-old season. Edmonton native Liam Bohm-Meyer returns for his 18-year-old season.
The average age of the team is 19 years old.
“In my opinion, it’s a young team but our younger players are very good,” Daniello said.
Vancouver Rangers 2016-17 quick facts
League: Northwest Division of the Western States Hockey League, a 29-team junior hockey league (amateur players ages 16-20 who pay to play).
Coach/GM: Dave Daniello, second season.
Home rink: Mountain View Ice Arena, 14313 S.E. Mill Plain.
Tickets: $10 for adults, $7 students, $5 ages 5-10. For special event nights, including Friday’s season-opening concert night featuring Unchained, tickets cost $15 for adults, $10 for ages 5-12.
Season openers: Seattle at Vancouver, 7 p.m. Friday and 7:30 p.m. Saturday.