If the TRU WolfPack hockey team is a close-knit group, it has the Alberta Colleges Athletic Association to thank.
The WolfPack is scheduled to play its B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League home-opener on Friday, 8:30 p.m., at Memorial Arena against the Trinity Western Spartans. TRU is 2-0 after a perfect weekend against the Vikes in Victoria.
The WolfPack is deep, and the WolfPack is talented. It also is a close bunch, especially after its performance at the SAIT Icebreaker tournament in Calgary last month.
Yes, the WolfPack did win that tournament - the first B.C. team to do so in 25 years - but it was what happened in the first period of a 2-2 draw with the Red Deer College Kings on Sept. 22 that made TRU what it is.
The ACAC has a rule in which ear-guards are necessary on all helmets. The BCIHL has no such rule, and TRU ordered helmets without the pieces in place.
Fortunately for the WolfPack, five players had helmets with ear-guards. Unfortunately for the players, they had to trade off those five helmets, sweat and all, for a whole period.
"It was a gong show on the bench, that's for sure," said WolfPack sniper Josh MacDonald, a Calgary native. "Exchanging sweat, it would be gross to anyone else, but it worked out."
Head coach Don Schulz spoke to the officials in the first intermission, and they allowed the WolfPack to proceed with the players wearing their normal helmets.
"Our coach buttered up the refs and they let us play the rest of the game without the ear-pieces," MacDonald said. "But it was terrible."
If that isn't the reason for the strong start, well, MacDonald might be it.
The 23-year-old has scored six times in two games, including a five-goal effort in the WolfPack's 6-1 victory on Friday. The last time MacDonald put home five was during his KIJHL days with the Golden Rockets, and, before that, he can't even recall.
In his first two seasons at TRU, MacDonald was more of a set-up man - 11 of his 16 points in 2012-13 were assists, and he had 12 assists and three goals in 2011-12. And, like any good set-up man, he passed credit for his big weekend to linemates Duncan Schulz and Colton Schell.
"I couldn't ask for a better start, but I can't really take all the credit for it," MacDonald said. "My linemates . . . they deserve a lot of credit.
"Me and Duncan have been playing together for two seasons," MacDonald added. "When we started playing together, we clicked right away. Colton, he played with us in camp, and from the first day, we've had chemistry."
MacDonald's hot start might leave the other teams in the BCIHL to think that the WolfPack is a one-line team - far from it, says Don Schulz.
Schulz, now in his third season with the team, says this is the deepest squad TRU has had during his tenure, with four tough lines. The only setback the WolfPack has had so far was a 5-4 exhibition loss to Trinity Western in Langley on Sept. 14.
"Trinity Western (picked up) a couple of good recruits and they have a brand new coach (Barret Kroph)," Schulz said. "He's had a pretty good track record in the past, so we're looking for a major challenge from them."
? ? ?
he WolfPack soccer teams will be at home for the first time in a month, with the UBC-Okanagan Heat to pay a visit on Saturday.
TRU's women are 7-0-1 and first in the Pacific Western Athletic Association; the Heat is 5-2-1 and third. UBC-Okanagan will play host to the WolfPack on Sunday in Kelowna.
The WolfPack men also are first in the conference, at 5-1-1. UBC-Okanagan, which is at home to TRU on Sunday, is third at 4-2-2.
Saturday's matches will kick off at noon and 2 p.m., at Hillside Stadium.
? ? ?
he Trinity Western Spartans will provide the opposition for the WolfPack men's volleyball team in a pair of matches at the Tournament Capital Centre.
TRU is scheduled to play host to the Spartans tonight, 7 o'clock, and Friday, 6 p.m., at the TCC. TRU played a three-match set with the Heat last weekend, winning two and tying the third, which was shortened due to travel concerns.
The WolfPack also will be playing host to a four-team tournament from Oct. 10-12. The Heat, UBC Thunderbirds and Guelph Gryphons are expected to attend.
? ? ?
t is the end of the preseason for the WolfPack women's volleyball team, which is headed to Langley on the weekend for the Best of the West exhibition series.
TRU is set to play matches against the host Spartans, the Thunderbirds, York Lions, Alberta Pandas and Regina Cougars.
The next time the WolfPack will be on the court is Oct. 25, when the Heat visits the TCC for both teams' Canada West opener.
? ? ?
RU's women's basketball team is back on the court for the first time this preseason, heading to Ontario for three games.
The WolfPack is scheduled to play the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks, Western Ontario Mustangs and Brock Badgers this weekend. TRU hasn't played since a first-round playoff loss to the Calgary Dinos in February.
The WolfPack also will be holding a tournament at the TCC from Oct. 11-13. The tournament is expected to feature the Spartans, Heat and UNBC Timberwolves.
? ? ?
he WolfPack golf team is looking ahead to its final tournament of the Pacific Western season.
TRU is off to Chilliwack to play in a tournament on Saturday and Sunday. The previous conference tournament, last weekend in Victoria, was rained out.
The WolfPack's Brent Pound and Natasha MacKenzie have an outside chance of qualifying for the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association championship in Ontario later this month.
? ? ?
aseball season continues for the WolfPack, which is off to Kelowna for the Fall Invitational Tournament.
TRU is set to play games against the Okanagan College Coyotes, Vancouver Island Baseball Institute Mariners, Calgary Dinos and Okanagan Athletics.