About the Team
The new Junior A hockey club in Cold Lake got a look at its future home recently. Cold Lake Wings head coach Johnathan Aitken and other members of the team took in a guided tour featuring Cold Lake Mayor Craig Copeland and staff of the Energy Centre. The tour included a peek at the new rink being built in the centre.
Copeland says the reaction from the club was nothing short of excitement.
“I think the coach is pretty pleased with the facilities. He’s looking forward to putting a team on the ice. It’s going to be really exciting to have Junior A complementing the Junior B and minor hockey programs.”
The construction will include a whole other ice rink as well as a new lounge, climbing wall and mini-stick surface for kids. Copeland says the addition gives more teams in the area a better opportunity to play in the world-class facility.
About the Coach
Former Boston Bruin and Chicago Blackhawk will be leading the Cold Lake Wings through their first year as a hockey team. Johnathan Aitken can’t remember a time when hockey wasn’t a part of his life, and after playing on teams ranging from minor hockey to the big leagues, he feels he’s the perfect man for the job.
“Throughout my professional career, and even my junior career, I have made good and bad choices both on and off the ice. I’m willing to and want to share those types of experiences with these younger kids who are trying to make a career or get into a certain division,” he expressed.
Aitken will be head coach and general manager of the new Western Provinces Hockey League (WPHL) team in Cold Lake. (Source)
How many players have your team or coaching staff (maybe with another team) advanced to NCAA College hockey?
The Cold Lake Wings will find success working with each individual player’s and his family to find the best fit at the next level. Additionally, our coaching staff will play a crucial role in the development necessary to make the advancement to college level either it be D1, DII or DIII. Through a structured program that has been designed to prepare our players for that next step for both on and off ice development, along with a working relationship with our local High Schools and College we will ensure our players will get the best from the organization to help assist them getting to that next level. Being this our inaugural season in the WSHL, we will be getting support from all avenues the league can provide, such as going to the leagues Showcase in Las Vegas the week before the Christmas break. Head Coach/GM Johnathan Aitken has worked with Kaizen Sports as a Family advisor for half a dozen players trying to make that jump to the NCAA ranks. Nick and Ethan Leyer to name a couple have been through the process of visiting schools (St Cloud State). A/C Mike Renner has moved 9 players to NAIA, Waldorf college, DIII, Iowa State, Southern Maine to name a few.
How many players have your team or coaching staff (maybe with another team) advanced to the Major Junior?
Head Coach/GM Johnathan Aitken played four years of Major Junior Hockey from 1994-1998 with the Medicine Hat Tigers and Brandon Wheat Kings. Johnathan also help coach and develop Mark Pysyk in Midget AAA prior to Mark Heading to the Edmonton Oil Kings of the WHL. Johnathan along with his company Topshelf Hockey Training has worked with Alex Thacker (Swift Current) Cole Carrier (Kelowna Rockets) Kaden Reinders (Victoria Royals) in helping them develop on and off ice strength and skills to prepare them for the Major Junior level.
How many players have your team or coaching staff (maybe with another team) advanced to the next level in Jr. Hockey?
Head Coach Johnathan Aitken played four seasons of Major Junior Hockey in the WHL with the Medicine Hat Tigers (drafted by them 14th overall in 94’ Bantam Draft) and two years with the Brandon Wheat Kings. Johnathan along with his company Topshelf Hockey Training has worked with Alex Thacker (Swift Current) Cole Carrier (Kelowna Rockets) Kaden Reinders (Victoria Royals) in helping them develop on and off ice strength and skills to prepare them for the Majot Junior level. Being our inagural season we do have a plan with the connections and relationships our coaching staff has with junior teams throughout Canada to ensure our players get that exposure and opportunity to get to the next junior level either it be BCHL/AJHL or Major Junior – OHL/WHL. A/C Mike Renner has moved well over 20 players to the junior ranks, WHL, BCHL. Players such as Michael Farren, Haydn Delorme, Tanner Hopps to name a few.
Does your program or coaching staff (maybe with another team) have alumni who advanced to the NHL?
Head Coach/GM Johnathan Aitken has played 50+ games in the NHL (44 regular season games with Boston & Chicago), along with over 300 games played in the AHL(Providence Bruins, Norfolk Admirals, Manitoba Moose, Hamilton Bulldogs) To have an experineced player now coaching and managing the team, solely on the connections he has will only better the opportunities for the players in the Wings organization. Also helped develop Mark Pysyk while he played Midget AAA in Sherwood Park prior to making the Edmonton Oil Kings as a 16 year old.
Does your program or coaching staff (maybe with another team) have alumni who advanced to Minor Pro in the USA or Europe?
Head Coach/GM Johnathan Aitken played 2 seasons in Europe, one year with Sparta Prague of the Czech Elite League, and one season with KAC (Kalgenfurt) of the Austrian Elite league. He also played 8 season in the AHL with Providence Bruins(Boston) Norfolk Admirals(Chicago), Manitoba Moose(Vancouver), Hamilton Bulldogs(Montreal) Being our inaugural season we will be structuring our program to provide the necessary tools and environments to help develop our players and give them the chance to move up in their careers and be ready when the time comes to play professionally either it be in the North America or Europe. Being in our inaugural season this is one of our goals is to be a large stepping stone for our players to recognize the discipline and dedication it takes to make it to the pro level.
Does your program attend college showcases during the regular season play?
The WSHL puts on an annual showcase in Las Vegas the week prior to the Christmas break and last year alone there was over 150 recruiters from DI, DII, DIII schools to major junior and even pro scouts are in attendance. There is another opportunity for recruiters and scouts to watch our players when the league finals are on as it is in a tournament format over a course of 5 days. This years finals are been held in Salt Lake City, Utah. Recruiters have also had the opportunity to watch all our games through the WSHL Black ops video/live streaming service that all teams are required to provide.
What is the billeting situations like and costs?
With having a billet coordinator right in the city of Cold Lake that works hand in hand with the GM and with the billet families to ensure we have a good fit with them and the players. there are numerous quality billet opportunities within a thirty-minute radius of the rink with families looking forward to opening their homes to the right junior hockey player. the typical billet fee will range from $450-$500 per month.
How many days per week does your team practice?
We practice from Monday through Thursday from 2pm – 4pm, thats 4 (four) 120 minutes practices daily for four days leading up to our games on the weekends, where we have pre-game skates the morning of the games.
Does your program have hockey specific strength and conditioning training? If so how many days per week?
We have a fitness facility attached to our home rink where the players will have unlimited access to. Along with this, we will have 4 team workouts with a local off site gym to help maintain and improve strength and agility throughout the season.
Does your program have video evaluations?
Our coaching staff will be using state of the art video extensively for team and individual player development throughout the season. Will be a minimum of once a week. Individual videos will be used to send/provide colleges for recruitment purposes of our players. Recruiters are able to watch all our games live through the leagues Black ops video/internet feed.
Does your program have an academic advisor?
We have advisors at both the High School and College levels to help assist and provide the means to get our players the courses they need to stay eligible for colleges.
What are the team fees
Our WSHL tuition is $8,000 USD, this figure includes all hockey related expenses, such has equipment required throughout the season, billet fees($500/month) and pays for their flight and accommodation at the showcase in Las Vegas.
Does your team provide scholarship type program to reduce costs for players
Yes, This is an internal process that is reviewed by the General Manager and President of the Cold Lake Wings Jr A Hockey Club