Penticton Dominant So Far at WCC, Wenatchee Arrives in 2015-16, WHL vs. BCHL Heats Up, Smokies Shore Up Goaltending:

(at Fort McMurray, AB)

Saturday, April 25: Penticton (BCHL) def. Spruce Grove (AJHL) 11-3 (718)
Fort McMurray (Host) def. Portage MJHL) 3-1 (929)

Sunday, April 26: Portage (MJHL) def. Melfort (SJHL) 6-3 (749)
Penticton (BCHL) def. Fort McMurray (Host) 6-0 (979)
Monday, April 27: Spruce Grove (AJHL) vs. Melfort (SJHL) – 6:30 pm PST
Tuesday, April 28: Penticton (BCHL) vs. Portage (MJHL) – 1:30 pm PST
Spruce Grove (AJHL) vs. Fort McMurray (Host) – 6:30 pm PST
Wednesday, April 29: Melfort (SJHL) vs. Penticton (BCHL) – 6:30 pm PST
Thursday, April 30: Portage (MJHL) vs. Spruce Grove (AJHL) – 1:30 pm PST
Fort McMurray (Host) vs. Melfort (SJHL) – 6:30 pm PST
Saturday, May 2: 4th Place vs. 3rd Place – 1:30 pm PST
2nd Place vs. 1st Place – 6:30 pm PST
Sunday, May 3: 4th Place/3rd Place winner vs. 2nd Place/1st Place winner

The Wenatchee Wild are set to become the BCHL’s 17th franchise. One BCHL GM and Head Coach told me today that Wenatchee will “definitely be playing in our league next season.” This comes on the heels of a Twitter conversation I had with Bliss Littler, who is the current GM and Head Coach of Wenatchee in the North American Hockey League, in which he seemed confident that his club would be in the BCHL in 2015-16. Littler’s exact words were, “I’m betting on it happening”. 

As was mentioned in this space earlier this month, the Wild requested to become dormant in the NAHL for next season in order to seek permission from USA Hockey and Hockey Canada to join the BCHL. Approval from USA Hockey and Hockey Canada doesn’t guarantee Wenatchee can move to the BCHL, as the league’s governors would also need to approve any such move. No confirmation where we are in those processes, but based on conversations today, it looks like the BCHL will have its first US-based team since Bellingham last played in the league in 1994-95. There’s more to this story for sure.

An interesting discussion on Twitter started last Saturday night when I tweeted out an article from 710 ESPN Seattle’s website in which Thunderbirds GM Russ Farwell said this about Penticton Vees defenseman Dante Fabbro: “…he’s going to really be stalled if he stays at that (BCHL) level”. Fabbro was a first round Bantam Draft pick of Seattle back in 2013. He had 33 points (four goals, 29 assists) in 44 games with the Vees this season as a 16-year-old. The Whistler, BC product added 15 points (four goals, 11 assists) in 21 playoff games as Penticton won the Fred Page Cup as BCHL champions. The article, from Tim Pigulski, is here.
The Trail Smoke Eaters solidified their goaltending for 2015-16 with the commitment of Bailey MacBurnie. The Beverly, MA, native turns 20 tomorrow, and is fresh off backstopping the Salisbury School Crimson Knights to a New England Prep School Athletic Conference Championship. The Smoke Eaters had the second-highest goals-against in the BCHL in 2014-15, allowing an average of 4.29 goals per game. Adam Todd has aged out of the league, while Brett Clark is eligible to return to Trail’s crease in 2015-16.

Forward Max Reinhart (Merritt AP, Langley AP, 2007-08) has been recalled by Calgary from Adirondack of the AHL. The North Vancouver, BC product had 36 points (15 goals, 21 assists) in 67 games this past season in the American League, and no points in four NHL games with the Flames.

Forward Daniel Carr (Powell River, 2009-10) has been called up by Montreal from the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs. Carr, who’s from Sherwood Park, AB, had 38 points (24 goals, 14 assists) in 75 games in the minors in 2014-15.

Defenseman Josh Manson (Salmon Arm, 2009-11) has been recalled by Anaheim from the Norfolk Admirals. The tough blueliner had 12 pts (three goals, nine assists) in 36 AHL games this season. The Prince Albert, SK, native also had three assists in 28 NHL games with the Ducks.

Forward Morgan Zulinick (Salmon Arm, 2010-12) has left the University of Wisconsin after three seasons with the Badgers. The 20-year-old will return to Kamloops to be with family, which includes a three-year-old son.

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