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


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Vees acquire Meek from Cowichan, Eagles get Davidson from Penticton, Capitals nab Hards and Jones in Three-Team Trade:


The Penticton Vees acquired defenceman Mitch Meek from the Cowichan Capitals on Monday in a three-team trade also involving the Surrey Eagles.

The Eagles traded forward Darren Hards and the CJHL rights to defenceman Ryan Jones to the Vees for forward Darius Davidson, and Penticton moved Hards and Jones to acquire Meek from the Capitals.

From the Vees website:
"We were in need of an experienced, veteran defenceman and he being a right-handed shot was the perfect fit for us. We’re excited to have him on our blue-line next season." - Penticton President, General Manager and Head Coach Fred Harbinson.
Meek, 20, has 72 points (15-57-72) in 193 BCHL games over four seasons with Victoria, Vernon, and Cowichan. He's also played in 38 career BCHL playoff games with 10 points (1-9-10). 


Davidson, 20, rejoins the BCHL team in which he's played 144 of his 165 career games with.

From the Eagles website:
"After talking with our core group of guys that are coming back this season, we all feel that it will be a very competitive roster. The addition of Darius addresses some of our scoring needs. He also brings experience. He’s played in a lot of BCHL games, regular season and playoffs. I think that will also be a positive addition for our group." - Eagles GM and Head Coach Blaine Neufeld
The Surrey native was moved to Penticton in December 2015 and finished the season with five points (2-3-5) in 21 games with the Vees and 25 points (11-14-25) in 30 games with the Eagles.



Hards, a 17-year-old from Prince George, is coming off his rookie season in the BCHL. The Cariboo Cougars product had eight points (4-4-8) in 28 games last season with Surrey. 


Jones, 18, finished the 2015-16 season with the WHL's Vancouver Giants. The resident of Delta played 43 games with the Giants, notching three assists. Jones started the season with Surrey and had one assist in 12 games with the Eagles. I expect him to remain in the WHL in 2016-17.

Trail Trades Newton, Tetteh and futures to Capitals, Cowichan Sends Santerno and Cochrane to Smoke Eaters:


The Trail Smoke Eaters traded forward Max Newton, defenceman Nii Noi Tetteh, and future considerations to the Cowichan Capitals on Saturday for forward Luke Santerno and defenceman Carter Cochrane.

Newton, 18, has 64 points (22-42-64) in 95 BCHL games with Trail. The Vancouver native had 40 points (13-27-40) in 55 games with the Smoke Eaters this past season to finish second in team scoring.

Tetteh, an 18-year-old from Revelstoke, played his first BCHL season in 2015-16 and finished with three points (1-2-3) in 50 games.

Santerno had 13 goals and 13 assists in 56 games with Cowichan Valley this season. The 19-year-old from Sicamous has played in 114 career BCHL games, with 25 goals and 25 assists, all scored with the Capitals.

From the Smoke Eaters media release:
“Luke is a big, rangy centreman and good on draws.  He makes smart plays all over the ice.”

Cochrane, a 19-year-old defenceman from Kamloops, has played in 43 career WHL games. Last season, he started with Chilliwack before being traded to Cowichan in late October. In 14 games with the Caps, he posted 14 points (3-11-14) before signing a try-out with the Giants in December. He was injured in his lone game with Vancouver and didn't play for the rest of the season.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Prince George Trades Connor Logan to SJHL Battlefords:


The Prince George Spruce Kings acquired future considerations from the Battlefords North Stars of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League for 19-year-old forward Connor Logan on Monday.

Logan, a Victoria native who turns 20 on June 21st, had 19 points (9-10-19) in 53 games with the Spruce Kings this season as a rookie. He's a veteran of 134 games in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League, posting 160 (58-102-160) over three seasons. 

Logan made his junior A debut with Powell River in 2014-15, getting into eight games as an affiliate player and posting one assist. He also played two games with the Kings in the 2015 BCHL Fred Page Cup playoffs.




Thursday, June 2, 2016

Trail Trades Cooper Leitch to Langley for Troy Ring:


The Trail Smoke Eaters and Langley Rivermen hooked up on the first trade of the BCHL off-season, with forward Cooper Leitch headed to Langley and defenceman Troy Ring and future considerations off to Trail.
Leitch, who is entering his final year of junior hockey, played the last season and half with the Smoke Eaters, after being acquired from Prince George during his rookie BCHL season of 2014-15. The 20-year-old from London, Ontario had 23 points (11-12-23) in 56 games with in 2015-16.
Ring is a year younger than Leitch and made his BCHL debut last season after playing half the year with the junior B North Van Wolf Pack of the Pacific Junior Hockey League. The Vancouver native is a veteran with North Van, having skated in 94 games since the 2013-14 season, his point totals increasing each year.
The 6'1", 188 pound blueliner won a PJHL Championship with the Wolf Pack in 2015 and was also chosen by Portland in the 14th round, 306th overall in the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft. 

Leitch is a veteran of 157 junior A games in the BCHL and the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League.

Junior B Langley Knights Relocate to Surrey:

(Image: Doug Abbott/PJHL)

There always seems to be a trickle down effect when a hockey team at a higher level makes a geographic move within the Lower Mainland of BC.

It happened when the Western Hockey League expanded into Chilliwack and the BCHL's Chiefs relocated to Langley. It also happened when the WHL's Bruins left Chilliwack and the BCHL's Quesnel Millionaires were purchased and moved into Prospera Centre.

And now with the Vancouver Giants nudging the Langley Rivermen out of the Langley Events Centre last month, the Riv jumped to the George Preston Recreation Centre, which left the junior B Langley Knights without a home arena.

Knights owner John Craighead announced on his Facebook page that the team is moving to Surrey.




The Knights will play out of the North Surrey Recreation Centre, which has two ice surfaces. Arena One was built in 1966 with a bench seating capacity of 1100 and Arena Two was added in 1989 with a capacity of 150. I would expect the Knights will play out of Arena One.


(Image: City of Surrey)

The move keeps the PJHL with five teams on the south side of the Fraser River (Abbotsford, Aldergrove, Delta, Richmond, Surrey) and five teams on the north side (Grandview, Mission, North Vancouver, Port Moody, Ridge Meadows.