Barry Wolff led the Swan Valley Stampeders to their winningest season in franchise history in the 2018-19 campaign as the team won 42 games and finished second in the MJHL, just six points behind the Portage Terriers.
The Stampeders would then advance to their first league final and although they came up short against Portage, it was still a season to remember for the Stampeders who call the Centennial Arena their home.
Wolff would return as bench boss the following season and the Stampeders followed up their run to the league final by winning 35 games, which saw them finish in fourth place in the league. The team had a 2-1 lead in their first-round playoff series against Waywayseecappo when COVID-19 caused the cancellation of the remainder of the playoffs.
The MJHL attempted a return-to-play last season, but it was very short-lived as no team played more than 10 games. Swan Valley was 5-4 and now as we look forward to the 2021-22 season, Wolff will be back.
Wolff and the Stampeders have come to terms on a new two-year contract with an option for a third year. The Stampeders have gone 82-36 under Barry during the regular season and they have won 13 of their 20 playoff games with him behind the bench.
Barry says Swan Valley holds a special place in his heart and he's looking forward to continuing to lead the team.
"It's a great place to live and the community is unbelievable, the support is overwhelming," said Wolff. "Our board of directors are workers and they want to be successful, so that's part of the reason I stayed as well."
Barry has coached for the Merritt Centennials, Drumheller Dragons, Fernie Ghostriders, and Quesnel Millionaires in the past and while all of those communities have a population of less than 10,000, Swan River is the smallest place he has coached.
And while Swan River may not offer up some of the amenities of a big city, Barry says his expectations of living in the town of just more than 3800 have been exceeded.
"It's a lot of fun coaching in small centres, because the community is so behind the team and everyone wants the players to succeed," offered Wolff. "When you're in a big town centre, many times junior hockey isn't as big and talked about. You kind of lose that junior hockey aspect in big cities."
In other Stampeder news, Lane Kirk has committed to play for the University of Alberta-Augustana Vikings, a member of the Alberta Collegiate Athletic Conference (ACAC) this fall. Kirk is from Swan Valley and he appeared in 180 regular-season games for his hometown club. Including playoff action, Kirk played 204 games with the team.