The latest edition of Hockey Now newspaper has another look around the BCHL as compiled by the league’s Communications Director Brent Mutis.
BCHL Team Reports
By / Brent Mutis
The Jan. 10 trade deadline saw 11 transactions involving 15 players as some teams loaded-up for the stretch run and others looked towards next season. The changing shape of rosters has big implications on the division races and playoff positioning. Now is the time for potential MVP candidates to provide their closing statements.
Alberni Valley Bulldogs– The third-place ‘Dogs were buyers at the deadline, bringing in Teal Burns from Cowichan Valley and Chase Paylor from Olds of the AJHL in exchange for futures. The early-season scoring pace has slowed but Jay Deo has become a real workhorse in net, making 57 saves in one recent win.
Cowichan Valley Capitals– The Caps’ goals-against are pretty respectable but scoring is real hard to come by as Steen Cooper and Mikael Jung are the only double-digit scorers. In an incredibly busy January schedule, the Caps are off to a 1-5-2 mark through eight games.
Nanaimo Clippers– The Western Canada Cup hosts bolstered their lineup by adding rugged playmaker Aaron Hadley from Vernon and defenceman Brock Maschmeyer from Fort McMurray of the AJHL. Blueliner Chris Rygus has come alive of late with seven points in his last five games.
Powell River Kings– Only four teams have scored fewer goals than the Kings but injury woes kept key components out of the lineup the last three months. Captain Teagan Waugh missed most of November and December but has five points in his last three games while J.P. Villeneuve has six in his last five.
Victoria Grizzlies– With a 14-point lead over second-place Nanaimo, it would take a mega meltdown for them not to win the division. The big question is who they take on in the playoffs as the 2-3-4 team are separated by just five points. Myles Fitzgerald is on a 14-game point streak in which he’s tallied 23 points.
Chilliwack Chiefs– The acquisition of Philip Zielonka from Coquitlam gives the Chiefs offense another deadly weapon as he’s been held scoreless in just four of the 41 games he’s played. Forward Josh Hansen is back after a five-week injury absence and Spencer Graboski has put up a point per game in his last seven.
Coquitlam Express– Sellers at the deadline, the Express managed to add talented defenceman Ben Israel and young forward Garrett Forster from Chilliwack. WHL transfer Adam Rossignol will be leaned on at centre and hometown boy Adam Rockwood gets to show his skill and has five points in his last five games.
Langley Rivermen– The good news is the Rivermen have won their last four games against Coquitlam who they’re fending off for the final playoff spot. The bad news is they’ve lost their last five against division rivals ahead of them in the standings. Mario Puskarich is the BCHL leader in goals (28) and points (56).
Prince George Spruce Kings– The Spruce Kings have been shut-out twice in January but have also produced a seven-goal game. The up-and-down offence should get balance with the addition of former Edmonton Oil Kings centre David Stephens who has two goals and three assists in four games with PG.
Surrey Eagles– Surrey landed the league’s most coveted asset at the Jan. 10 deadline, bringing in Adam Tambellini. Along with Brady Shaw, Surrey now has one of the most dynamic duos in the BCHL. Add in Michael Santaguida’s goaltending and you’ve got a team many will be picking to go deep in the playoffs.
Merritt Centennials– They’ve allowed the fewest goals in the league but have also played fewer games than any other team. Tyler Steel is tied for the league lead with four shutouts and also leads all goalies with three assists. Sean Maktaak has 13 points in his last eight games.
Penticton Vees– Penticton shrewdly picked up John Siemer from Coquitlam on Jan. 10 and he becomes the Vees leading scorer. Troy Stecher has 10 points in his last nine games and is now the league’s top-scoring defenceman. A four-game win streak has them 12 points clear of Merritt for first place.
Salmon Arm SilverBacks– Consecutive wins over Trail Jan. 18 and 19 gives the ’Backs a three-point cushion on the Smokies for the final playoff spot. New No. 2 goalie Angus Redmond got his first two BCHL wins in the recent set against Trail and Ryan Schwalbe has seen some offensive traction with seven points in his last eight.
Trail Smoke Eaters– They’ve lost three straight but getting leading scorer Brent Baltus back is a huge help and he’s had an assist in each of his two games since returning. The Smokies must improve their penalty kill and power play, both ranked last in the BCHL.
Vernon Vipers– Moving Adam Tambellini and Aaron Hadley at the deadline would seem to have left the club without much offence but Andrew Tegeler and Mason Blacklock have found chemistry as the new go-to guys. A recent Vancouver Island road trip brought two wins in three games including a narrow 1-0 defeat to Victoria.
West Kelowna Warriors– The Tribe has a chance to get home-ice advantage in the opening round of the playoffs but they’ll have to surpass Merritt, who they are currently tied with. Forwards Seb Lloyd and Marcus Basara have been on fire lately with Lloyd on a 13-game point streak.