The Saanich Predators (formerly the Saanich Braves) are expected to unveil their new Predators jersey and brand on Sept. 29. (Black Press Media file photo)

After 53 years, Saanich Jr. B team rebrands as Predators

Saanich Predators Junior B hockey team navigates COVID, culture

Behold the Saanich Predators.

The 53-year-old junior B hockey team dropped its original Braves’ nickname and logo (an outdated profile image of an Indigenous man in headdress) this summer and ran a public campaign to rename the team.

The Predators branding and logo will follow on Sept. 29.

“We were excited and wanted to make the announcement first,” co-owner Norm Kelly said. “The branding and colours are coming.”

The nine-team Vancouver Island Junior B Hockey League is expected to start on Oct. 2. Teams will be broken into three cohorts of four, three, and two teams. Saanich will likely start in a cohort with the Westshore Wolves and Kerry Park Islanders.

READ MORE: Saanich junior hockey team drops ‘Braves’ name

“After a few weeks we’ll have a 14-day break and then switch to another cohort but right now we’re hoping things will eventually open up,” Kelly said. “Otherwise we’re just waiting and seeing.”

The decision to change the name actually started with the Saanich ownership group of Kelly and Ed Geric of Mike Geric Construction a few years ago.

They announced the Braves name and logo would be abandoned in the spring amid civil unrest for equity in the United States and protests in Canada.

The club shortlisted to three names, the Defenders, Squid and Predators. What many might not realize is that Predators carried a history as a minor hockey name in Victoria dating back 20 years.

Of course, the most significant tie between the Saanich name and the NHL Predators, the team Saanich is borrowing the name from, is Matt Irwin. The eight-year NHLer with the Anaheim Ducks played a full season for Saanich in 2004-05 before graduating to Nanaimo Clippers and the NCAA.

But Kelly never spoke to Irwin about the Predators name, he said.

“We had overwhelming texts and emails on the Predators from fans, from parents of players, and from players and ex-players,” Kelly said. “People are buying into it and are very excited about it.”

Back in 2002 when Kelly’s son Bryan was 14 years old, he wanted to play a tournament season for spring hockey and, with Geric’s son Adam, then 13, the two boys arranged it the first year, he said.

“We had two bantam-level spring teams for four years that used the predators jersey,” Kelly said. “Players came from all over the Island.”

For the first year, there was only one set of Victoria Predators home and away uniforms and the teams would have to swap them back and forth. The spring elite teams practised out of Fuller Lake and entered high-end elite tournaments coached by Geric and Kelly, specifically the Challenge Cup in Vancouver, an international AAA showcase for elite talent.

Several alumni from those four years were drafted into the NHL including Taylor Ellington (Vancouver Canucks, 2007) and the late Mitch Fadden (Tampa Bay Lightning, 2007) who died in 2017.

READ ALSO: Smokin’ summer for former Saanich Braves NHL alum

Protocols around COVID-19 are allowing hockey but are making organizing this year’s Predators roster complicated for head coach Brent Polischuk, Kelly explained. Ice time is already limited with Saanich’s Gold rink out of service until late spring at the Predators’ home – Pearkes Arena. The team practices on the Green rink and in the Wurtele rink at the CFB Esquimalt.

Games are at Pearkes but are not open to fans.

“Pearkes rink is capped to 50 people, so once each team has its players, coaches, the refs, the time-box and video staff inside, a rink attendant locks the doors,” Kelly said.

The other wrinkle is the annual ritual of holding roster spots for players who return from junior A camp.

“If they return they’ll have to isolate for 14 days before they can play for the Predators,” Kelly said.

Players will wear masks on the bench that come up from the neck.

“We told them, if you want to play hockey, take it serious,” Kelly said. “If you want to go to parties, you’re going to risk everyone on the team, so our guys are taking it pretty seriously.”

reporter@oakbaynews.com


 

Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

Junior B Hockey

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Online reservation service, First Table, allows Victoria diners to have dinner at half-price if they’re willing to be flexible about when they go. (Black Press Media file photo)
New reservation service allows Victoria residents to dine out at half price

First Table gives Victoria diners 50 per cent off when they book tables during off-peak hours

Kwick’kanum (Eric Pelkey), a hereditary chief of the Tsawout Nation, addressed the crowd that gathered at Mount Newton Cross Road and Highway 17 on Oct. 23. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
UPDATED: Pat Bay Highway reopens after rally supporting Mi’kmaq fishing rights

Supporters call on government to recognize Indigenous treaty rights

Sooke man Rik Downer spent two weeks in the Royal Jubilee Hospital after contracting flesh-eating bacteria. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Sooke man’s bumped knee leads to fight for life

Man unknowingly contracts case of rare flesh-eating disease

Const. Graham Walker of the Saanich Traffic Safety Unit recreates an incident involving a driver who police say attempted to film the scene of a crash while driving up Highway 17. (Saanich Police/Twitter)
Police track down driver caught filming accident scene on Pat Bay Highway

Driver issued $368 ticket, points on their licence

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

U.S. border officers at the Peace Arch crossing arrested two men on California warrants this week. (File photo)
Ottawa predicts system delays, backlogs unless court extends life of refugee pact

Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe places to seek protection

Most Read