The Utah Jr Grizzlies and WCR are pleased to announce an unprecedented collaboration in jointly operating a Pee Wee youth hockey team. Under the agreement, the Jr Grizzlies will create, roster and administer a Pee Wee Select team. WCR will provide the coaching, development and ice rental for the team. The team will wear the Jr Grizzlies’ uniform but will also be co-branded with WCR logo patches on the jersey.
Joe D’Urso, President of WCR, said “We are thrilled to collaborate with the Jr Grizzlies on this unique venture for two main reasons. First and foremost, it is consistent with our goals of youth development. Secondly, we have been committed to growing the game in Utah by working with other great organizations and we believe that this should help lead the way in ushering in a new era of cooperation throughout Utah hockey. The Grizzlies have been an organization that has consistently focused on the kids and youth development and so we feel that this will be a great partnership.”
Joe Minnock, Vice President of the Grizzlies, commented “This is a wonderful opportunity for both our players and our organization. This partnership allows us to combine the strengths of both organizations and create the best environment to maximize the players’ development. We are grateful for WCR’s willingness to try novel approaches as we all pursue the goal of making Utah’s youth hockey players among the best.”
As part of this collaboration, WCR will hire Mikko Laitinen as the head coach of the team. Mikko brings over 20 years hockey experience both coaching and playing across multiple levels of hockey. He is well known for his high-energy practices focused on player development while fostering an atmosphere to nurture a true love for the game. Mikko brings a focused approach to his team with the goal to develop players of character on and off the ice. Most recently he has coached the Utah Regulators Pee Wee 2003 Hockey team in Salt Lake City, Utah for the 2014 – 2015 season. Previously he coached the Utah Regulators Squirt team during the 2013 – 2014 season. As a coach for the Regulators, Mikko has helped his team’s win several tournament titles.
Mikko has worked as both an assistant coach and head coach in many youth hockey programs here in the State of Utah (Lightning Organization, County, TAHA etc.). Mikko has also spent time as an assistant high school coach for Brighton High School for several seasons finishing in the championships for Utah High School Hockey.
Mikko began playing hockey within the youth organizations within the Utah hockey community playing parts of numerous seasons at varying levels. Living in Finland as a youth, Mikko also played youth hockey in Helsinki, Finland. Mikko played high school hockey at Brighton High School in Salt Lake City, Utah where he served as an assistant captain aiding his team to win the Utah State Championship. Mikko moved on to play collegiate hockey with the University of Utah Hockey Program for several seasons.