Entering the 1996/97 season, the Quesnel Millionaires knew that they faced quite a challenge. This would be their first year in a tough, quick and talented new league. Under the leadership of new head coach and GM Barry Wolff and assistant coach Dale Hladun, the new look Millionaires were formed with players from one end of Canada to the other.
Sporting exciting new uniforms and logos, as well as introducing the local fan to 12 new exciting teams, the Mills prepared for opening night, and the season that followed.
With returning goalie Tyler Nilsson, and a host of other returning players, the Millionaires entered into their first weekend of BCHL action, as a young but excited team. The fans were treated to the antics of Krazy George at the home opener, which ended up in a loss for the Mills. The Millionaires quickly rebounded to their first BCHL win the following night, as they dumped the visiting Langley Thunder 9-5.
But, success for the Mills was to be short-lived, as the team was plagued with injuries from the start. Barry Wolff was faced with many decisions regarding what sort of lineup changes should be made to turn things around.
Julien Jorgensen, a 20 year old winger from Vancouver, along with linemate Fil Pelliciotta, also 20 and hailing from Orillia, still enjoyed early success; each finding themselves near the top of the BCHL scoring leaders list. In Mid November Pelliciotta was picked up by a pro league in Europe while Quesnel picked up Pat Kenny and Jami Wurster in replacement. Both players seemed to bring the Mills along a step as Kenny (19 year old 6'1, 195 forward) and Wurster (19 year old 6'1, 185 defence) both played quite the defensive game, and seemed to help in the Millionaires failing defense.
Kenny seemed to slip nicely into the newly formed line of himself, Jorgensen, and Troy McNallie. Although the team continued to be unsuccessful points wise, this line continued to carry itself through the season.
Jorgensen was chosen to represent the Interior division at the BCHL All Star game held mid January in Langley. He was named Team MVP after picking up 9 points at the single game event.
Also of note was the play of number one goalie Tyler Nilssen. 19 year old Nilssen started 52 games, and faced over 2300 shots during the season, by far a BCHL record for saves made.
The Millionaires rounded out the season with a disappointing 6-52-2 record, but with the promise of many returning players who had gained valuable experience over the year. The number of returning players once again looked very promising for the Millionaires as they focused on building for the next year.