LA RONGE ICE WOLVES
To say it has been a struggle this season for the La Ronge Ice Wolves is an understatement, but through all of the difficult times there have been some bright spots.
One of the positives has been the play of 19-year-old forward Zach Bannister as his 32 points has him just outside of the Top 10 in league scoring. What makes that even more impressive is that through the Ice Wolves’ current 12-game losing streak, Bannister has been held off the scoresheet just three times, as he has collected 14 points in the other nine games.
The fact that Bannister has been able to play a whole season in one location might have something to do with his productivity.
The 5-foot-11, 185-pound product of Grand Prairie, Alta., was with three other teams last year before finally landing in La Ronge. Bannister had 18 points in 23 games with the Kirkland Miners of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League, one point in one game with the Fairview Flyers of the Northwest Junior Hockey League and five points in nine outings with the Olds Grizzlies of the Alberta Junior Hockey League before finishing the season with 14 points in 20 games with the Ice Wolves.
Bannister got his first taste of Junior “A” hockey when he was 16 years old as he appeared in one game with the AJHL’s Drayton Valley Thunder. He also saw action in a pair of AJHL games as a 17 year old with the Fort McMurray Oil Barons, but in both instances he failed to register a point. Bannister played the remainder of those two seasons with an Edmonton prep team at the Midget AAA level and in a combined 54 games posted 15-38-53 totals.
Adversity is said to build character and it certainly appears Bannister is overcoming anything thrown his way. The Ice Wolves are by no means out of the playoff race and it will be the continued production being turned in by Bannister that will help them move towards making a return to the postseason after a lengthy absence.