Monday, January 26, 2015

BCHL Playoff Picture, Williamson Commits to Michigan Tech, Soderberg Commits to West Kelowna, OJHL Awarded World Junior A Challenge, Johansen Voted NHL All-Star MVP:






Once again this season, the BCHL is going with a playoff format which sees best-of-seven playoff series in Rounds One (Division Semifinals) and Two (Division Finals), a three-team round robin in Round Three designed to eliminate one team and then a best-of-seven Fred Page Cup final between the two teams surviving Round Three.

The top four teams from each division make the post-season, meaning that only four of the BCHL's 12 teams get in. Right now, Chilliwack, Langley, Prince George and Nanaimo have locked up playoff spots. If the regular season ended Sunday, these would be the Division Semifinal match-ups:

INTERIOR DIVISION
(1) Penticton vs. (4) West Kelowna
(2) Vernon vs. (3) Merritt

STANDINGS
Penticton - 73 points, 13 games remaining
Vernon - 61 points, 14 games remaining
Merritt - 50 points, 14 games remaining
West Kelowna - 50 points, 11 games remaining
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Salmon Arm - 46 points, 13 games remaining
Trail - 33 points, 13 games remaining
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ISLAND DIVISION
(1) Nanaimo vs. (4) Alberni Valley
(2) Powell River vs. (3) Victoria

STANDINGS
Nanaimo - 64 points, 13 games remaining
Powell River - 52 points, 12 games remaining
Victoria - 50 points, 12 games remaining
Alberni Valley - 49 points, 15 games remaining
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Cowichan - 38 points, 11 games remaining
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MAINLAND DIVISION
(1) Chilliwack vs. (4) Coquitlam
(2) Langley vs. (3) Prince George

STANDINGS
Chilliwack - 56 points, 13 games remaining
Langley - 55 points, 12 games remaining
Prince George - 48 points, 13 games remaining
Coquitlam - 41 points, 11 games remaining
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Surrey - 19 points, 12 games remaining







There's been nothing official from the Warriors, but reporter Mike Ippolito of the Tewksbury (MA) Town Crier writes here that 18-year-old forward Connor Sodergren has committed to play in West Kelowna next season. Sodergren is in his fourth season of high school hockey with St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire and has already committed to attend Army at the US Military Academy in September 2016. Heading into this season, he had 73 points (31 goals, 42 assists) in 79 career games with St. Paul's. 
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16-year-old Vernon forward Jagger Williamson announced his commitment to Michigan Tech University on Twitter. The Vipers rookie has 21 points (four goals, 17 assists) in 35 games this season. Williamson didn't announce when he'll head to the Huskies, but the folks at Over The Boards speculate that it's September 2017, which gives the Lumby, BC native two more full seasons in the BCHL after this one.







The Ontario Junior Hockey League announced on Friday that the 2015 World Junior A Challenge will be jointly hosted by the Whitby Fury and the Cobourg Cougars. It's the first time for the tournament to be held in Ontario since it started in 2006. Canada West, which is comprised of players from the BCHL, AJHL, SJHL and MJHL, won gold in 2006, 2007 and 2011. It finished in sixth place this past year. The official release from the OJHL for the 2015 tournament is here.







Forward Ryan Johansen (Penticton, 2008-09) was named MVP of the NHL All-Star Game on Sunday after he posted two goals and two assists in a losing cause as Team Foligno fell 19-12 to Team Toews. Johansen was the hometown favourite as the game was hosted by the Columbus Blue Jackets. The NHL's write up is here

Goalie Carey Price (Quesnel, 2002-03) and defenseman Duncan Keith (Penticton, 1999-01) joined Johansen as former BCHL players in the game and at the NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft on Friday, all three wound up on Team Foligno. Price started the game and made 12 saves on 16 shots while Keith ended up with one assist and remarkably, was +1.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

BCHL Playoff Picture Taking Shape, Langley Defenseman Kearley Commits to University of Vermont, Former PG Blueliner Manning Sent to AHL:







With only 38 days until the 2014-15 BCHL regular season ends, the playoff picture is already taking shape. Once again this season, the BCHL is going with a playoff format which sees best-of-seven playoff series in Rounds One (Division Semifinals) and Two (Division Finals), a three-team round robin in Round Three designed to eliminate one team and then a best-of-seven Fred Page Cup final between the two teams surviving Round Three.

The top four teams from each division make the post-season, meaning that only four of the BCHL's 12 teams get in. If the regular season ended Wednesday, these would be the Division Semifinal match-ups:

INTERIOR DIVISION
(1) Penticton vs. (4) West Kelowna
(2) Vernon vs. (3) Merritt

STANDINGS
Penticton - 71 points
Vernon - 59 points
Merritt - 50 points
West Kelowna - 49 points

Salmon Arm and Trail aren't officially eliminated from the playoff picture, in fact, the SilverBacks are just five points behind the Warriors with two games in hand. The uphill climb is much more difficult for the Smoke Eaters, who are 17 points back of West Kelowna with only 16 games remaining.
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ISLAND DIVISION
(1) Nanaimo vs. (4) Alberni Valley
(2) Powell River vs. (3) Victoria

STANDINGS
Nanaimo - 60 points
Powell River - 50 points
Victoria - 48 points
Alberni Valley - 45 points

Cowichan isn't out of contention as the Capitals are eight points back of the Bulldogs. However, the Caps only have 13 games remaining and AV has four games in hand. First place looks like the Clippers to lose, but determining the second team to receive home ice advantage could go down to the wire between the Kings and Grizzlies.
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MAINLAND DIVISION
(1) Langley vs. (4) Coquitlam
(2) Chilliwack vs. (3) Prince George

STANDINGS
Langley - 53 points
Chilliwack - 52 points
Prince George - 44 points
Coquitlam - 37 points

The Rivermen and Chiefs are the first two BCHL teams to clinch a playoff spot as it is mathematically for either of them to finish worse than fourth in the Mainland Division. Surrey isn't officially out of the picture, but riding a seven game losing skid and facing a 20 point gap between itself and the Express is daunting for sure. Obviously, whichever team ends up meeting PG is looking a much more grueling travel schedule than the other series.
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19-year-old Langley Rivermen defenseman Jacob Kearley has committed to the University of Vermont for this September. The Newmarket, Ontario product has 25 points (six goals, 19 assists) in 41 games with the Riv this season. He posted 26 points (six goals, 20 assists) in 57 games with Victoria last season before being traded in the off-season to Langley.







Defenseman Brandon Manning (Prince George, 2007-08) has been assigned to LeHigh Valley of the AHL by the Philadelphia Flyers. Manning has one assist in three games with Philly this season. He's added 25 points (nine goals, 16 assists) in 36 games with the Phantoms.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

BCHL Shines at CJHL Prospects Game, Five BCHL Players Featured on NHL Central Scouting Midterm Rankings, BCHL Alumni Update:







The BCHL was very prominent in the annual Canadian Junior Hockey League Prospects Game on Tuesday in Oakville, Ontario as Team West edged Team East 3-2.

With 12 players from the BCHL on Team West, it was 17-year-old Penticton Vees defenseman Jarod Hilderman who played hero as he scored the winning goal with just 7.3 seconds left in the third period in addition to his first period marker. Interestingly enough, Hilderman doesn't have a goal for the Vees through 40 games played this season. Meanwhile, 17-year-old Chilliwack Chiefs forward Jordan Kawaguchi had the other goal for Team West. A write up on the game is here.
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NHL Central Scouting released its midterm rankings for the 2015 NHL Entry Draft and there are five BCHL players featured, two forwards, two defenseman and one goaltender.

Leading the way is 17-year-old Langley forward Marcus Vela, who is ranked 123rd overall among North American skaters. Next is 17-year-old Vernon forward Liam Finlay at 189th. 18-year-old Chilliwack defenseman Vincent Desharnais comes in at 208th, while 18-year-old Penticton blueliner Gabe Bast is ranked 209th. Stefan Wornig, who is 17, is ranked 22nd among all North American goaltenders. The NHL's official release of the rankings is here.
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There's a minor correction to my BCHL Trade Deadline coverage. Although it was initially reported that the Coquitlam Express acquired 20-year-old forward Thanvir Bandesha via player transfer (or trade) from the Ontario Junior Hockey League's Orangeville Flyers for future considerations, that's not entirely true. 

According to the OJHL transactions page, Bandesha was released by the Flyers on January 6th, which means any team across Canada was eligible to sign him as a free agent, which is exactly what the Express did. I've adjusted the Trade Tracker on the previous post, so it's accurate when being referred to in the future.







Forward Joey Holka (Penticton, 2008-11) was released by the ECHL's Utah Grizzlies, eleven days after signing a contract. Holka had no points in three games with the Grizzlies.
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Rugged forward Tyler Barr (Coquitlam AP, Langley AP, Merritt, 2005-09) has been released by the Allen Americans of the ECHL, after he was loaned to the team back on January 12th by the SPHL's Louisiana IceGators. Barr had two points (one goal, one assist) in four games with the Americans. The North Vancouver, BC, product has two assists in nine games with Louisiana this season.
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Forward Nicolais Gomerich (Powell River, 2014-15) has resurfaced in the Ontario Junior Hockey League with the Wellington Dukes. The 18-year-old played 21 games with Powell River this season, scoring five points (two goals, three assists) before being released by the Kings. He signed with the Dukes officially on January 9th.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Powell River's Bus Breaks Down, Langley's Bo Didur Profiled in The Province, BCHL Alumni Update:







The Powell River Kings road trip through the Interior got even longer today when their bus broke down in Kamloops, on the way back from Salmon Arm. Kings play-by-play man Alex Rawnsley tweeted this photo:
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Steve Ewen wrote a great article on Langley Rivermen netminder Bo Didur, who - along with 11 other BCHL players - is off to Oakville, Ontario for the Canadian Junior Hockey League Prospects Game on Tuesday. The article is here.
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Forward Denver Manderson (Penticton, 2007-10) has been reassigned to the Orlando Solar Bears of the ECHL by the AHL's Toronto Marlies. Manderson, who was the BCHL Interior Division MVP in 2010, has 26 points (nine goals, 17 assists) in 23 games with the Solar Bears this season. He also has one assist in six games with the Marlies.
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With the cost of running a junior hockey team continuing to rise, one of the longest running junior A franchises in Western Canada is in danger of folding due to a large financial deficit. The Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League's Weyburn Red Wings face an uphill climb to get out of the hole. Ian Hamilton from the Regina Leader-Post has the story here.