Wenatchee wild about becoming BCHL’s 17th team

The Wenatchee Wild is joining the BCHL and is set to hit the ice for the 2015-16 season

The Wenatchee Wild becomes the BCHL's 17th franchise and will hit the ice for the 2015-16 season.

The Wenatchee Wild becomes the BCHL's 17th franchise and will hit the ice for the 2015-16 season.

The Wenatchee Wild will join the BCHL as its 17th franchise starting with the 2015-16 season, the team and league announced Monday at a media conference held in the central Washington city.

“We could not be more excited or humbled to be joining the BCHL,” said Wild head coach Bliss Littler in a statement. “Knowing the history and reputation of the league, be it sending players to play NCAA Division I hockey, NHL draft picks or the professionalism of the member teams and league have, we look forward to being a good league member on and off the ice.”

With the announcement, the Wild become the first U.S.-based franchise in the BCHL since the Bellingham Ice Hawks, who operated from 1990 to 1995.

“The BCHL is gaining a strong franchise in the Wenatchee Wild and we value the passion and professionalism they bring to our league,” said BCHL commissioner John Grisdale. “The Wild will quickly develop rivalries with our existing franchises and I believe they will be a big draw in opposing buildings.”

The Wild had been a member the North American Hockey League since the 2008-09 season. They have had a winning record in each of their seven seasons of existence and this past season, they had six players on their roster committed to National Collegiate Athletic Association Div. I programs. Playing out of Wenatchee’s Town Toyota Center, the team averages about 3,000 fans at home games.

As a U.S.-based club, the Wild will be allowed to roster a maximum of four Canadian players.