Year: 2015

Canada West Opens WJAC with 7-3 Win, BCIHL Unveils BC University Hockey Showcase Details:

BCHL players combined for seven points as Canada West opened the 2015 World Junior A Challenge with a 7-3 win over the Czech Republic in Cobourg, Ontario on Sunday. Penticton Vees players Tyson Jost (one goal, one assist) and Dante Fabbro (two assists) each had two points for Canada West in the victory. Langley’s Justin Fregona along with Powell River’s Kyle Betts and Carter Turnbull each chipped in with a point as well. Canada West’s next game is Tuesday against the defending champion United States.

The BC Intercollegiate Hockey League announced the details of the 2016 BC University Hockey Showcase on Sunday. The event includes six regular season games between all five BCIHL teams over three days from January 15-17 at the Bill Copeland Sports Centre, which is the home rink for SFU Hockey. The Saturday that weekend also features a luncheon where the BCIHL All Decade Team will be unveiled and a coach’s Q&A session to give fans, parents, and prospects the opportunity to learn more about the league. Details are available on the BCIHL website here.

Bulldogs-Smokies Rescheduled, WJAC Opens Sunday, Grisdale Talks Red Bull, Caps Acquire Jones, Grizzlies Lose Hopkins, Eagles Lose Westgard:

Due to a wicked storm that forced BC Ferries to cancel sailings from the Mainland to Vancouver Island, the Trail Smoke Eaters weren’t able to travel to Port Alberni to face the Bulldogs Saturday night. As a result, the game is rescheduled for the Weyerhauser Arena on Monday night at 6 o’clock. The Smokies are set to face Cowichan Sunday afternoon at 2 o’clock at the Island Savings Centre in Duncan.

The 2016 World Junior A Challenge opens Sunday with two preliminary round games. First, the nine BCHL players on Canada West and their teammates face off against the Czech Republic in Cobourg, Ontario at 10 a.m. PST. Then at 2 p.m. PST, Canada East meets Switzerland in Whitby, Ontario.

Both Canada West and Canada East are coming off last year’s tournament where neither team finished with a medal. In the WJAC’s nine year history, Canada West has three gold medals, three silver medals, and one bronze medal. Canada East has never won gold at the tournament, but has claimed four silver medals and one bronze. The United States is gunning for its fourth straight title and seventh in the last eight years.

Earlier this week, the BC Hockey League announced that the U20 Red Bull Salzburg team from Austria will tour through the province next month. I chatted with BCHL Commissioner John Grisdale about the tour.

Grisdale and BCHL Communications Director Brent Mutis also joined former Abbotsford Falcons forward and current Global TV Sports Anchor Jay Janower on the Saturday Morning News to talk about the Red Bull tour along with the CJHL Prospects Game, which is in Surrey next month. That interview is available here.

The Penticton Vees shipped 18-year-old defenseman Sam Jones to Cowichan for future considerations. In 27 games with the Vees this season, the rookie blueliner has four assists and 19 penalty minutes. He put up an astonishing 83 points (21 goals, 62 assists) in 88 games with the Okanagan Hockey Academy Red Prep team in 2014-15. Jones is set to make his Capitals debut Wednesday in Nanaimo.

Just a handful of days after signing 18-year-old Haydn Hopkins following his release from the WHL’s Vancouver Giants, the Victoria Grizzlies have lost the hometown forward to the Erie Otters of the OHL. The Otters claimed Hopkins on Canadian Hockey League waivers and he’ll join Erie after playing just one game for the Grizzlies. He had no points and four penalty minutes in Tuesday’s 4-2 win over Alberni Valley. The Victoria Times-Colonist has more on the story here.

The Surrey Eagles lost another of their key offensive players on Friday. After trading leading scorer Darius Davidson to Penticton early last week, now 17-year-old forward Ty Westgard is off the Eagles roster following his decision to sign with Victoria Royals of the WHL. The White Rock native was selected by the Royals in the 8th round, 165th overall in the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft. Westgard had 21 points (six goals, 15 assists) in 24 games with Surrey this season.

Forward Scott Jacklin (Cowichan, Trail, 2007-11) was traded in the ECHL on Saturday to Brampton from Elmira for future considerations.The Kimberley, BC product is in his first season in the ECHL. He had 10 points (five goals, five assists) in 16 games with the Jackals.

Eastern Washington University will have a new head coach when the second half of the season begins in January. The Eagles have fired second-year head coach Bret Kellogg and promoted assistant coach Jason Greenwell. Kellogg took over from Bill Shaw in May 2014 and leaves EWU with a record of 9-24-0-1, including 2-8-0-0 this season.

Greenwell, who’s from Spokane, WA, signed on as head coach for the remainder of this season and through 2016-17. He played four seasons at Eastern Washington from 2010-14 and four seasons junior B in the KIJHL, where he was named Top Goaltender in 2009-10. The 26-year-old was hired as an assistant coach with EWU the same season Kellogg was chosen as head coach. The Eagles have retained associate coach Pat Hanlon in his current role.

BCHL December 1st Roster Deadline Details:

The December 1st Hockey Canada roster deadline arrives tomorrow and it’s one that’s seen BCHL teams be relatively busy.

BCHL teams started with 35 cards on June 1st, on October 1st that was reduced to 30. At that point, teams with 22 players signed were left with only eight cards to sign any players acquired.

As of December 1st, the number is cut to 25 cards or less, which includes carded players plus available unused cards. The norm is for teams to end up with a 22 player roster and 3 cards, but occasionally teams will go with less than 22 players and then have more cards available for use leading up to the January 10th roster deadline.

For example, if a team has 28 cards remaining of the 35 they started with on June 1st, (including the 22 players on their roster) and it reduces to 25 tomorrow night, it makes sense to trade now, rather than after December 1st. The idea being that the team uses cards 23 through 28 instead of losing them. This is assuming the team wants to make some changes.

Last season, there were four trades in the week leading up to the deadline, including just one on December 1st. In 2013, 12 trades were made, while in 2012, eight trades were made. In 2011, there were seven and in 2010, there were 16 deals.

So far this season, there have been two deals made in the week leading up to the deadline, both involving the Victoria Grizzlies. First the Grizzlies acquired 19-year-old forward Jared Virtanen from the Calgary Mustangs of the Alberta Junior Hockey League for 18-year-old defenseman J.D. Falconer and future considerations. Then Victoria dealt 19-year-old forward Colby Livingstone to the OCN Blizzard of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League for future considerations.

It remains to be seen if things get busier in the hours leading up to the deadline – and with the final roster deadline just five weeks away.

The other aspect of the December 1st deadline is that teams within the BCHL have until 7 pm Pacific time to make any deals with each other while they have until 6 pm Pacific time to make deals with CJHL teams outside of BC.

Here’s a look at the trades last season in the week leading up to the December 1st deadline:

– Salmon Arm acquired forward Branden Wagner (96) from Vernon for future considerations

– Prince George acquired forward Daniel Nachbaur (95) from Merritt for future considerations

– Prince George traded defenseman Valik Chichkin (94) to Camrose of the AJHL for future considerations

– Chilliwack acquired defenseman Bennett Morrison (96) from Salmon Arm for future considerations

2015-16 BCHL Season Team Previews:

Since this is the eve of the 2015-16 BCHL season, I caught up with a member of the staff for each of the 17 teams to preview the upcoming year. Although a number of the questions I asked were similar, if not the same, it is interesting to hear each team’s perspective or philosophy when it came to the answers.

I also spoke with BCHL Commissioner John Grisdale, that interview will be posted in this space tomorrow.

Alberni Valley Bulldogs

Chilliwack Chiefs

Coquitlam Express

Cowichan Capitals

Langley Rivermen

Merritt Centennials

Nanaimo Clippers

Penticton Vees

Powell River Kings

Prince George Spruce Kings

Salmon Arm SilverBacks

Surrey Eagles

Trail Smoke Eaters

Vernon Vipers

Victoria Grizzlies

Wenatchee Wild

West Kelowna Warriors

BCHL Roster Rules & Other Regulations:

I’m back after a crazy busy summer! July and August are so crazy for me as one of my freelance gigs is to run media for Canada’s largest cycling series, BC Superweek. Between that, my Assistant GM job with the Port Moody Panthers, another role running media for the Odlum Brown VanOpen tennis tournament, and family – it doesn’t leave much free time for blogging. That said, I’m hoping to find an hour or two a day to once again post the goings-on in the hockey world around BC.

And just like last year, I thought I’d recap some of the BCHL rules and regulations ahead of the start of the 2015-16 season on Friday.

My comments are in italics after the rule. 

– The BCHL Roster limit is 22 players at any time, 20 of which are eligible to dress and participate in any regular season or playoff game. (Same as it was in 2014-15)

– An injured player can be placed on long-term injured reserve and another brought in to fill that spot. (Same as 2014-15)

– Teams must have a minimum of four rookie players, which is defined as those entering the season with less than 30 games of Junior A experience. (Same as 2014-15)

– Teams must have a minimum of two players 17-years-old or younger on their active roster (This is a rule last in effect during the 2013-14 season) 

– A team may only have six import players on their roster at any one time. An import is defined as an American-born player. No Canadian-born players who are age-eligible to play in any Junior A leagues across the country are considered imports. (Same as 2014-15)

– Once a player has signed a CHA playing certificate (also known as a “card”), players are bound by the regulations of Hockey Canada and movement to other teams is restricted. (Same as 2014-15)

– There is a “not-in-good-standing” list for players refusing to report to a team after a CJHL Player Transfer Agreement. (If players don’t report after being traded, they’ll receive this designation, but I have no idea what the repercussions are. This rule is the same as it was in 2014-15.)

– Any player who’s dealt as futures can’t play for his original team the following year. (Basically any team transferring a player to another team as futures means the player can’t return to the team which transferred him the following season. In simpler terms, this eliminates the potential of a player being a playoff “rental” for one team, only to see him return to the team that transferred him. Same as it was in 2014-15)

– The number of CHA playing certificates available to each team is 35. (Every time a team adds a player to its roster, the team is required to “card” the player with Hockey Canada. Now with only 35 cards available between June 1st and January 10th, teams must be more efficient when it comes to signing players. A regular season roster is 22 players (or cards), which leaves just 13 additional cards to make changes with.)

– Players playing in the BCHL Showcase are required to pay a $100 per game played fee (to a maximum of $200). (This is a new regulation for 2015-16 as far as I know.)

– BCHL teams may require carded players to pay a Team Registration Fee. The fee is administered at each team’s discretion and not to exceed $800. Teams that do  administer a fee must do so to all carded players and be in compliance with NCAA Regulations. Fee refunds must be pro-rated with a schedule of refund amount to release date clearly spelled out on team letterhead. Teams that do charge a fee must also submit to the league a copy of the team form letter and refund schedule. Individual player forms must be available upon league request. (This is a new regulation for this season. It’s something similar to what has been administered in the past by the league, which was a BCHL Registration Fee. My guess is that this replaces that.)

– The BCHL has an agreement with Bauer that extends to the end of the 2015-16 season. The compliance points are as follows: Bauer pants, gloves, helmet/visors, game and practice jerseys/socks, off-ice apparel (including warm-up gear), Bauer Supreme Team stick, each new player is provided with new exposed gear each season (helmet, visor, gloves and pants), each player is provided with a minimum two sticks per month during the regular season and playoffs, and returning players are permitted to wear their previous year’s exposed gear, as long as the gear meets a reasonable safety standard

– The league has also implemented a number of travel, meal, and gym regulations.
  • Maximum three players per room when travelling on the road
  • All team travel must be, at the minimum, by bus
  • Minimum three meals per game day
  • Minimum three meals per travel day to include breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
  • The amount of meals provided by the team on the road is pro-rated by the amount of time the team is travelling. For example, an in-division game within an hour’s distance equals a post-game meal
  • No fee gym access for players
  • Travel to and from Wenatchee. For Canadian players, 3rd party out of country travel insurance is provided by the BCHL. American players are to provide their own family insurance while traveling in the USA.

BCHL Releases 2015-16 Schedule, Warriors Trade for Anderson, SilverBacks Acquire Salerno, Express Nab Pinchuk, Eagles Sign McAvoy, Cents Recruit Faulkner:

The BCHL’s 2015-16 regular season will commence on Saturday, September 11, with a six-game slate, highlighted by Wenatchee visiting Prince George in the Wild’s first ever BCHL game. The 986-game regular-season schedule – 58 games per team – will conclude on Sunday, February 28, with four teams in action before the 2016 Fred Page Cup playoffs start.

After winning their third Fred Page Cup in the last eight years, the Penticton Vees raise their championship banner in their home opener on Wednesday, September 16th before playing the Vernon Vipers. New York Rangers.

The majority of BCHL are on either Friday or Saturday nights. Of the 493 total games, 392 are scheduled for the weekend, with 164 on Fridays, 152 on Saturdays and 76 on Sundays. During the week, Wednesday night has 46 games scheduled, 28 games will be played on a Thursday, three games on Monday, and 24 will be played on a Tuesday.

Day – No. of Games (Percentage) 

Monday – 3 (0.6%) 

Tuesday – 24 (4.9%) 

Wednesday – 46 (9.3%) 

Thursday – 28 (5.7%) 

Friday – 164 (33.3%) 

Saturday – 152 (30.8%) 

Sunday – 76 (15.4%)

The scheduling matrix ensures that all 17 teams play in all 17 arenas at least once per season.

The league takes its annual Christmas Break from Sunday, December 20 to Tuesday, December 29. The entire schedule is available here.

West Kelowna added a veteran presence to its blueline with the acquisition of Tyler Anderson from the Kindersley Kilppers of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League for forward Josh Bly and futures. Anderson, a 19-year-old, had 11 points (three goals, eight assists) in 48 games with the Klippers last season. He added one goal in ten games as well. Bly, who is from Saskatoon, SK, played one game with Kindersley as an affiliate in 2012-13 and had 16 points (nine goals, seven assists) in 57 games with West Kelowna in 2014-15.

The Salmon Arm SilverBacks nabbed an import 1995-born player after a trade with the Buffalo Jr. Sabres of the Ontario Junior Hockey League. Coming to the ‘Backs is defenseman Aiden Salerno for future considerations. The 19-year-old from Long Beach, NY scored 14 points (one goal, 13 assists) in 51 games for the Sabres in 2014-15. He’s a product of the Avon Old Farms high school prep hockey program.

The acquisition of defensemen continued with Coquitlam picking up blueliner Jarell Pinchuk from Drumheller of the Alberta Junior Hockey League for future considerations. Pinchuk is a veteran of 91 career junior A games with the Dragons, posting 17 points (three goals, 14 assists) and 81 penalty minutes. The 18-year-old from Fort Saskatchewan, AB was a 7th round pick, 141st overall by Kelowna in the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft.

The Surrey Eagles signed forward Paul McAvoy. The Lexington, KY native played with the Connecticut Oilers of the Eastern Hockey League last season, where he had 20 points (12 goals, eight assists) in 41 games. He added three points (two goals, one assist) in 11 playoff games as the Oilers won the EHL championship. 

Merritt has added defenseman Mike Faulkner for the upcoming season. He played 32 games of high school prep hockey with Brunswick School out of Greenwich, CT and had 42 points (seven goals, 35 assists) as team captain. The 19-year-old from New York, NY was chosen in the fourth round, 82nd overall by Corpus Christi in the NAHL Entry Draft earlier this spring.

Defenseman Kyle Bigos (Vernon, 2007-09) is taking his game to Europe. The 26-year-old has signed with the Edinburgh Capitals of the Elite Ice Hockey League for next season. He had 13 points (one goal, 12 assists) in 43 games with the ECHL’s Ontario Reign in 2014-15. The Upland, CA native also played three games in the AHL with Worcester and had one assist. Bigos was selected in the fourth round, 99th overall by Edmonton in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.

Forward Milan Lucic (Coquitlam, 2004-05) was traded in the NHL on Friday from Boston to Los Angeles as part of a three player deal. In eight seasons with the Bruins, the Vancouver product has 342 points (139 goals, 203 assists) along with 772 penalty minutes. Lucic also added 61 points (26 goals, 35 assists) in 96 career playoff games with Boston. He won a Stanley Cup with the B’s in 2011.