Monday, November 7, 2011

BCHL Team Reports:

This is posted on the Hockey Now website:

November 04, 2011
Posted in BC Edition, Junior A

By Brent Mutis /

Only four teams are making the playoffs in each conference this season in the BCHL and nothing is a sure bet so far as just four points separate first from sixth in the Coastal Conference and there are just three points between third and sixth in the Interior Conference. There seems to be better balance throughout the league this year as just four teams lack a winning record and scoring looks to be on the rise as 37 players are averaging better than a point per game.

INTERIOR CONFERENCE

Chilliwack Chiefs
The Chiefs aren’t a real high scoring bunch but are stingy, with a conference-low 38 goals against. Mitch Gillam is becoming a star in goal after moving west from Ontario while Malcolm Gould and David Bondra, son of Peter, have been point-a-game players.

Merritt Centennials
Allowing more goals than you score isn’t a recipe for success but the Cents are making it work in the meantime as they sit third in the Interior. Only Regan Soquila is over a point per game but Reece Willcox, Brandon Pfeil and Billy Marshall are a good blueline corps with the latter two also being in the top five in team scoring.


Penticton Vees
The Vees have, hands down, the most potent offence in the league at better than five goals a game. It’s no surprise Minnesota Wild second-rounder Mario Lucia leads the way with 29 points in 14 games but Travis St. Denis is right behind. Columbus Blue Jackets prospect Mike Reilly leads BCHL defencemen with 10 goals and 21 points.

Prince George Spruce Kings
One of the true good news stories of the early part of the season has been the turnaround in the North. The Spruce Kings won just 13 games last year but with Paul De Jersey busting out big time (28 points in 13 games), Jujhar Khaira’s game on the rise and Michael Colantone contributing, PG has a legit shot to be a playoff team this season.

Salmon Arm SilverBacks
A big turnover of personnel on the blueline seems to be troubling the ’Backs in the early going as there are five new faces on the back end. The forward group of Brett Knowles, Bryce Gervais, Devin Muller and Morgan Zulinick have been pretty reliable to score but they haven’t been able to outscore the 4.29 goals against per game the team is allowing.

Trail Smoke Eaters
After three of the top scorers in the league last year – Sam Mellor, Scott Jacklin and Travis St. Denis – moved on to college or other teams, the Smokies have a bit of an identity crisis. Head coach Bill Birks moved goalie Matt Larose for defensive help but then had to ship rearguard Rajan Sidhu to Alberta to get another goalie in James D’Andrea. Trail has a league-worst 72 goals against.

Vernon Vipers
A 7-0 start had the Snakes atop the standings early but they’ve since cooled to a 9-4 mark. A roster numbers crunch forced the team to release captain Patrick McGillis and the team has been spiraling since. Defencemen Luke Juha and Brett Corkey were away for Team Canada West tryouts and an extended absence could mean more trouble.

Westside Warriors
Connor Dempsey has been a good find as was Seb Lloyd until a broken collarbone put him on the 60-day disabled list. Tyler Krause is enjoying a breakout season while newcomer Steven Racine has been good in net. The team recently dealt defenceman Brayden Sherbinin to Cowichan Valley for Josh Monk who played for head coach Rylan Ferster when both were in Salmon Arm.

COASTAL CONFERENCE

Alberni Valley Bulldogs
The ‘Dogs partnered with the Trail Smoke Eaters Oct. 20 in the biggest player transaction of the year so far, moving defencemen Marley Keca, Tanner Hicks and forward Tanner House in exchange for defenceman Daniel Delbianco and goalie Matt Larose who’s been great since the move.

Coquitlam Express
Head coach Jon Calvano will be happy to see the calendar flip over as the Express finished October with four straight losses. Still, Coquitlam is just a game below .500 and seems to have a gem in Alexander Kerfoot who has 15 points in 12 games as a 17-year-old.

Cowichan Valley Capitals
Tied for the final playoff spot at the start of the week, the Caps are playing good hockey but have seenNanaimo and Victoria get hot recently to move past them. Devin Gannon continues to provide leadership and scoring while Troy Paterson has offered good support from the blueline.

Langley Rivermen
Rollercoasters are more consistent than the Rivermen have been so far this season. They beat Alberni Valley 7-1 Oct. 15 only to lose to Victoria by the same score next game. Darnell Dyck and Mario Puskarich have shown flashes but the team is last in the conference with a two-goal-per-game average.

Nanaimo Clippers
October finished well for the Clips with a four-game winning streak that saw goalie Billy Faust play stellar in net in each of those victories. Nanaimo is getting scoring by committee with Kyle Kramer having a breakout year and Andrew Gladiuk, Brett Hartskamp, Trevor Fitzgerald and Graeme McCormack chipping in.

Powell River Kings
There’s a real test ahead for the Kings as head coach Kent Lewis is away coaching Team Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge and four players were away at the tryout camp. But they’re back atop their familiar perch in the Coastal Conference as Cohen Adair and Craig Dalrymple have been great.

Surrey Eagles
Tyler Morley has been a dynamo for Surrey, leading the team in goals and points while Andrew Hunt has provided excellent goaltending with the second-best save percentage in the league. It’s been a pretty good recipe but some more secondary scoring is probably top of the list of priorities.

Victoria Grizzlies
A slow start has given way to a torrid pace lately for the Grizz as Jarryd Ten Vaanholt, Wesley Myron and Wade Murphy really found their offensive game until Myron was sidelined. The addition of Mike Moran from Penticton has also been beneficial but the 63 goals against is worst in the conference.

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