48 in 24 Series: West Michigan Wolves
August 31, 2016
The 48 in 24 series will feature an in-depth look into all 48 teams in the NA3HL for the 2016-17 season, with new teams being highlighted daily, leading all the way up until the start of the regular season. 48 in 24 goes in-depth into each NA3HL team and will include interviews with all 48 head coaches in the NA3HL, as they provide fans with their expectations and outlook for the 2016-17 season, including taking a look at their potential roster and their strengths as a team for the upcoming season. It will also take a look back on the 2015-16 season and how each team fared and what they accomplished. Best of all, 48 in 24 will provide the fans of the NA3HL with an inside look at their favorite team and what to expect.
West Michigan Wolves
2015-16 Record: 26-17-4, 56 pts. (3rd in East Division)
2016 Playoffs: Lost in the East Finals to Metro, 2 games to 0
Head Coach: Mark Lawrence
2016-17 Division: East
Going into his sophomore season, Head Coach Mark Lawrence reflects on his first year with the Wolves: “We were happy with last season, [it] being my first year in the league and not knowing what to expect. We have a good group of returning players that will know our expectations and systems to make the start much more efficient.” With some experience in the NA3HL under his belt, Coach Lawrence looks forward to leading the Wolves this season with confidence.
Prior to joining the NA3HL, Lawrence spent ten years developing the West Michigan Hounds (now Meijer AAA) program in the NAPHL “from the ground up.” The Burlington, Ontario native played in the OHL, and was drafted to the Minnesota North Stars, where he stayed for five years prior to playing for the New York Islanders for another five years.
This year, Coach Lawrence has focused his time and energy into preparing his new players for the upcoming season. With seven returning players, he looks to them to lead the way for the newcomers. Offensively, Dakota Ulmer and Justin Bloomfield will make a huge impact on the scoreboard, while Brett Siewertsen and Nick Strom are expected to have a strong presence on the blue line. Last season, Ulmer and Bloomfield had a combined 77 points in the 2015-2016 season.
To help his players succeed, Lawrence and his staff will lay the groundwork and instill values in his players that he thinks are necessary to excel at a high level of hockey. He intends to “show them what it takes to succeed at this [NA3HL] level, and advance to the next.”
In the 2015-16 season, the West Michigan Wolves produced five college commitments. Brandon Bengalio will be attending Adrian College -Black and playing at the ACHA DIII level, Devin Farkas and Corey Siwula will both be at Western Michigan (ACHA DI), Tyler McMahon will play for Saginaw Valley State University (ACHA DIII), and Hunter Vorva will attend Aurora University (NCHA DIII).
The West Michigan Wolves also saw success and advancement in the NAHL. During the 2015-16 season, West Michigan forward Brendan Block signed an NAHL tender agreement with the New Jersey Titans. In his first season with the NA3HL Wolves, the Indiana native ended the season with 57 points in 50 games, including 4 in during the playoffs.
Coach Mark Lawrence intends to provide a positive hockey environment for his players this season, and hopes that translates into a winning season that extends into the playoffs.
Off the ice, the West Michigan Wolves regularly help the Battle Creek Hockey Association, as well as other community based charities and programs.
The West Michigan Wolves kick off their season this weekend, September 3rd and 4th, against the Wooster Oilers. The puck drops at 7:45 PM on night one, and 1:00 for game two. Both games will be held at Alice Noble Ice Arena, the Oilers’ home rink.
Next in the 48 in 24 series: Willmar WarHawks