Friday, June 24, 2016

2016 NHL Entry Draft - More to the BCHL than Jost, Fabbro and Cholowski:

Today is the first round of the NHL Entry Draft in Buffalo, and there's a chance that league history will be made for the BCHL as three players are projected to be among the top 30 selected on this evening.

A lot has been made about the status of Penticton teammates Tyson Jost and Dante Fabbro, and Chilliwack defenseman Dennis Cholowski, and rightly so, but there are a handful of other players who could see their names called by an NHL team this weekend.

Powell River foward Kyle Betts started the season on the NHL Central Scouting Preliminary Players to Watch list for the Draft and when the mid-season rankings came out, the Flesherton, Ontario product was placed 157th among North American Skaters. Betts moved up ten spots when the final rankings were released and he's slated 147th among North American Skaters heading into the proceedings.

Merritt forward Colin Grannary is the next ranked BCHL player, and he's also jumped up since the mid-term rankings. Grannary, who's from Delta, was ranked 186th in January and ended up at 178th among North American Skaters when the final rankings were released in April. The 18-year-old was also on the NHL Central Scouting Preliminary Players to Watch list last summer.

Forward Kohen Olischefski, who plays for Chilliwack, could hear his name called somewhere near the fifth round of the draft, based on his ranking. The Abbotsford native saw his stock drop a bit since the mid-term rankings, finishing at 151st after being slotted 131st in January among North American Skaters. He was a C-rated prospect on the Preliminary Players to Watch list.

One last BCHL player who might be selected wasn't included in NHL Central Scouting's mid-term or final draft rankings, but was on the Preliminary Players to Watch list is Vernon forward Liam Finlay. The 19-year-old from Kelowna has 114 points (40 goals, 74 assists) in 109 career BCHL games.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

BCHL Alumni Schultz and Bennett Celebrate Stanley Cup Win:

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Pittsburgh Penguins won their fourth Stanley Cup in franchise history on Sunday night with a 3-1 Game Six victory over San Jose.

Winning the biggest prize in hockey is special for all members of an organization, but it means a lot for the BCHL as well. Former West Kelowna (nee Westside) Warriors defenceman Justin Schultz and former Penticton Vees forward Beau Bennett helped continue a seven year streak which has seen a player who skated in the BCHL win Lord Stanley's mug.

It remains to be seen if Bennett will get his name on the Cup. Rules stipulate that a player must have at least 41 games played with the club or one game played in the Stanley Cup Finals, neither of which Bennett meets. There was a stipulation enacted in 1994 that allows a team to petition NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman for permission to have players' names put on the Cup if extenuating circumstances prevented them from being available to play. Bennett only played 33 games during the regular season and one game in the playoffs due to injury, we'll see if the Penguins petition to have him included on the Cup - I'd bet they do.

Meanwhile, Schultz played 15 games in the Pens' cup run, finishing with four assists and a +1 +/- rating.

Both Bennett and Schultz are restricted free agents on July 1st and must be extended a qualifying offer from Pittsburgh for the Penguins to retain negotiating rights. Bennett's qualifying offer must be at least a five percent raise over his 2015-16 salary of $800,000 while Schultz's qualifying offer must be at least as much as his 2015-16 salary of $3.9 million. Any player who doesn't receive a qualifying offer becomes and unrestricted free agent.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Alberni Valley Trades Conrad and Sarault to Dieppe:


The Alberni Valley Bulldogs on Thursday traded forwards Liam Conrad and Chris Sarault to the Dieppe Commandos of the Maritime Junior A Hockey League for future considerations.

“With both players residing from the east coast, Conrad and Sarault requested to play closer to home and begin their post-secondary education.” - Bulldogs GM and Head Coach Kevin Willison
Conrad, 18, had eight goals and 17 points in 57 BCHL games as a rookie in 2015-16. The Sackville, NB native played the previous three seasons in the New Brunswick-PEI Major Midget AAA League with the Moncton Flyers, where he led the league in scoring and was named a First Team All-Star in 2014-15. He also played three games that season with Dieppe as an affiliate player.

Sarault, a 19-year-old from Denver, CO, also played his rookie BCHL season in 2015-16 and had 12 points (7-5-12) in 44 games. The son of former NHLer Yves Sarault, he was a teammate of Conrad's in the NBPEIMMHL in 2014-15. The younger Sarault has been drafted by teams in the QMJHL, USHL, and MHL.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Five BCHL Players Selected in the 2016 NAHL Entry Draft:

Five BCHL players were selected in the 2015 North American Hockey League Draft on Tuesday.

19-year-old forward Jared Domin from Cowichan was the highest BCHL player selected in this year's NAHL Draft when the Shreveport Mudbugs grabbed him with the second overall pick in the first round. The left winger from Grand Rapids, Michigan had an excellent rookie season for the Caps, scoring 39 points (16-23-39) in 53 games. He played two games with the NAHL's Aberdeen Wings as an affiliate player in 2014-15.

Forward Donovan Ott of the Surrey Eagles was the second BCHL player chosen, by the Johnstown Chiefs with the 27th overall pick. Ott, who's from Lebanon, Pennsylvania, completed his rookie season with the Eagles in 2015-16 and posted 18 points (10-8-18) in 46 games. If he elects to join the Chiefs, it would be his second stint in the NAHL as he played with Wenatchee in 2014-15, prior to the Wild joining the BCHL. Ott is committed to Cornell University for this September.

Forward August Von Ungern-Sternberg of the Wenatchee Wild was the second BCHL player selected, going to the Odessa Jackalopes with the 115th overall pick. Von Ungern-Sternberg played his first season in the BCHL in 2015-16 after moving over to the league with the Wenatchee Wild. He notched 42 points (18-24-42) in 57 games this past season. He played in the NAHL with the Wild in 2014-15. The Boise, Idaho native also played 19 games in the USHL with Lincoln in 2014-15.

Surrey Eagles forward Gage Mackie heard his name called by the Aberdeen Wings in the 6th round, 126th overall. The 18-year-old from Anchorage, Alaska had 17 points (9-8-17) in 54 games during his rookie season with the Eagles in 2015-16. Mackie is slated to attend Arizona State University in the fall of 2017.

Rounding out the BCHL selections, Vernon Vipers forward Christian Cakebread was selected in the 11th round, 242nd overall by the Shreveport Mudbugs. The Gilbert, Arizona native had a solid first BCHL season, posting 30 points (12-18-30) in 35 games for the Vipers. The veteran of 90 USHL games is committed to the University of North Dakota for this fall.

2016 NAHL Draft, BCHL Players

1st Round
#2. Shreveport Mudbugs - Jared Domin; Grand Rapids, MI; Cowichan Capitals

2nd Round
#27. Johnstown Chiefs – Donovan Ott; Lebanon, PA; Surrey Eagles

5th Round
#115. Odessa Jackalopes - August Von Ungern-Sternberg; Boise, ID; Wenatchee Wild

6th Round
#126. Aberdeen Wings - Gage Mackie; Anchorage, AK; Surrey Eagles

11th Round
#242. Shreveport Mudbugs - Christian Cakebread; Gilbert, AZ; Vernon Vipers