It’s a completely new look for the Mission City Outlaws in 2017-18.
Mission has a brand new bench boss, a slew of rookies and only a few pieces remaining from the 2016 Pacific Junior Hockey League champion team.
Mike Renner is the new man behind the bench for the Outlaws, and he brings plenty of experience at both the junior and minor hockey level.
He previously coached the Port Moody Panthers, as both a head coach and assistant coach in 2016-17.
Renner, originally from Innisfill, Ont., played junior A hockey in Ontario. Since relocating to B.C., Renner has coached peewee and bantam rep for Coquitlam Minor Hockey Association, peewee AAA for Mission Minor Hockey Association, and Bantam AA for the Vancouver Thunderbirds program. He has also coached in the BC Hockey High Performance program.
The Panthers finished in fifth place in the Tom Shaw conference in 2016-17, and failed to make the playoffs.
Renner told the Mission Record back in April, when he was hired, that he wants to bring some pizazz back to the Outlaws.
“My ideal team is fast, exciting and tough,” he said.
“I like to play an offensive style, puck possession and high-pressure game. I like my team to play high-pressure offensive hockey and force turnovers.”
Key returning veterans for the Outlaws include forward Justin Bowerman and defenceman Hadyn Downing. Bowerman was tied for third in goals on the Outlaws last year with 16, and is expected to be a big offensive contributor. He was also named captain of the club for this season.
Goalie Keaton Dyck is also back, looking to grow after a solid first year between the pipes.
Renner said the team came ready for training camp, which occurred a few weeks ago.
“I thought the camp went really well,” he said. “The boys all came in shape, they worked hard and there were lots of battles during camp.”
Mission opened the exhibition schedule with a 4-3 overtime win over the defending PJHL champion Aldergrove Kodiaks on Aug. 20, and then fell 7-3 to the Abbotsford Pilots on Aug. 25.
Renner said he respects what management did last year to develop several key players, and also thinks recruitment this past off-season was well done.
“The sacrifice that Brad [Veitch, assistant general manager] and Scott [Kieler, general manager] made last year will pay off this year,” he said. “Management did an impeccable jump recruiting this year. We got a lot of good young recruits and speed up front, and once we add some veterans in the lineup we’ll be even quicker.”
Mission has been fairly busy this summer in the trade market They acquired Brendan Black from the Surrey Knights for futures, dealt Nathan McCarnan to the North Vancouver Wolfpack and also acquired Marcus Sihota from the Port Moody Panthers.
The Outlaws continue the exhibition schedule with games tonight (Friday) against the Ridge Meadows Flames, and then they host the Flames at the Mission Leisure Centre on Saturday. Faceoff is set for 6:45 p.m.
The regular season kicks off on Sept. 6, when the Outlaws take on Aldergrove. The home opener for the club occurs on Sept. 9, when the Delta Ice Hawks come to town. As in previous years, Mission’s regular home dates are Saturdays at 6:45 p.m.