Wenatchee Wild Announce Some Staffing, Coaching Plans For WHL Season
PHOTO: Wenatchee Wild coach Chris Clark. The Wild announced Thursday morning that Clark will remain with the team as an associate head coach and assistant general manager as it moves into the Western Hockey League. (Photo credit: Russ Alman/Digital Media Northwest)
By Austin Draude Wenatchee Wild Media & Broadcast Manager
The Wenatchee Wild organization has released information Wednesday on the coaching and operations plans for the upcoming Western Hockey League (WHL) season.
In a news release Thursday, the club announced that several key members of its coaching and hockey operations staff will remain with the team during the 2023-24 season, its first since moving from the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) after an eight-year run.
Chris Clark will stay with the Wild, serving as the team’s associate head coach and assistant general manager, while Leigh Mendelson will continue his role as the team’s Director of Scouting. Jarrod Boman will work with the Wild coaching staff in a hockey operations role and assist the coaching staff for the Wenatchee Wild Hockey Academy, a member program in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League (CSSHL). Pepe Sandoval will also remain with the team as an assistant to the team’s equipment manager and athletic trainer.
“Chris has been with the Wenatchee Wild for all 15 years of the team’s existence. Chris has demonstrated himself to be a very valuable and loyal team player through his roles of assistant coach, associate head coach and as our head coach,” said Wild general manager Bliss Littler. “I’m very proud of the effort and work that Chris put in as our head coach, and he has proven himself to be very valuable and knowledgeable on the administrative side of the hockey business as our assistant general manager. I am excited to have Coach Clark in this move to the WHL.
“Leigh Mendelson has been our scouting and recruiting coordinator for the past six years. Leigh has experience in the WHL, USHL, Division I college hockey, NTDP, ECHL, AHL, and pro hockey in Europe. Leigh has a good eye for talent and a tireless work ethic. Pepe is a man who has always helped wherever he is needed. He is talented on the skate sharpener and in helping the athletic trainer. We are very happy to have Pepe Sandoval with us. Finally, Jarrod has been with the Wild for the last year where he has been very detailed with all administrative issues that we have given him. He will continue to work with our Wenatchee Wild development teams in the CSSHL.”
Clark has been as steady a presence in the organization as any, joining the Wild upon their founding in 2008 as a member of the North American Hockey League, and serving as the team’s head coach from December 2019 until its recent move to the WHL. During his time in Wenatchee, he has coached eight players who were eventually taken in the National Hockey League Draft, including two who would go on to reach the NHL. More than 200 others have moved on to play NCAA hockey.
“My family and I are extremely grateful and excited for the opportunity to move with the Wild into the Western Hockey League,” said Clark. “I would like to thank David and Lisa White as well as Bliss Littler for this opportunity. The WHL has a rich history of developing players for the National Hockey League and I am excited to be a part of that. I look forward to working with the rest of the staff as we move forward into the WHL.”
Mendelson has enjoyed a decorated career of his own, serving almost 30 years in coaching roles across the sport. As an assistant coach, he won two Clark Cup championships with the United States Hockey League’s Omaha Lancers and a BCHL Fred Page Cup title with the Wild in 2018. He also served as an assistant coach for the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs during the 2008-09 campaign.
“Having the opportunity to continue to be part of the Wild organization as we move into the Western Hockey League is a great honor,” said Mendelson. “The WHL has a long and storied history of producing some of the best players in National Hockey League history, and I look forward to having the privilege of helping to identify and develop young talent who have those same aspirations.”
Boman joined the Wild last year as an assistant coach for the Academy, while also wrapping up an impressive WHL officiating career. Sandoval has also been an integral part of the team’s staff as its longtime equipment manager. The Wild are currently in the process of hiring a head coach and assistant coach to lead them into their WHL era, and are also seeking a full-time athletic trainer and full-time equipment manager. All resumes should be sent to general manager Bliss Littler at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The team will begin its first season in the WHL this fall, with the 2023-24 schedule to be released in the coming weeks
More information is available at www.wenatcheewildhockey.com – updated news and information on Wild hockey are always available through the team’s website and on the team’s social media platforms on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.