Month: May 2015

Cents Promote Martin to GM/Coach, Harbinson Turns Down U of Wisconsin Job, Campese Back Coaching, Anderson Commits to UNH, Kawaguchi Commits to Providence:

It didn’t take long for the Merritt Centennials to find a replacement for GM and Head Coach Luke Pierce after he was hired as Head Coach of the WHL’s Kootenay Ice on Tuesday. Joe Martin, who was Cents Assistant GM and Assistant Coach, has been promoted to the main job, signing a three year contract through 2017-18. Martin has been with Merritt since May 2011 and spent four seasons beside Pierce on the Cents’ bench. Prior to joining the Centennials, he was GM and Head Coach of the Creston Valley Thundercats of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. Martin got his coaching start behind the bench of the Whitehorse Midget A team in 2003. With his promotion, the Centennials are now looking for fill the role of Assistant Coach.

Penticton President, GM and Head Coach Fred Harbinson has turned down an Assistant Coach position at the University of Wisconsin to stay with the Vees. According to Andy Baggot of the Wisconsin State Journal, Harbinson, who played and coached at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, had multiple conversations with Badgers Coach Mike Eaves and received a “very strong” offer. Ultimately though, he told Baggot he decided to stay in Penticton because “it’s better for me and my family to stay put.” Baggot’s article is here.

Rivermen forward Hunter Anderson is off to the University of Alabama-Huntsville this fall. Anderson, who was the first overall pick in the NAHL Entry Draft by the Janesville Jets, came to Langley instead and put up 30 points (11 goals, 19 assists) in 58 games in his first BCHL season. The Savage, MN product added six points (four goals, two assists) in six playoff games for the Rivermen.

Chilliwack forward Jordan Kawaguchi has committed to Providence College for September 2016. The 18-year-old from Abbotsford, BC had 56 points (28 goals, 28 assists) with the Chiefs this past season after putting up 18 points (nine goals, nine assists) in 49 games as a rookie in 2013-14. Kawaguchi was selected in the fourth round, 80th overall by Spokane in the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft.

A pair of Seattle Thunderbirds who played briefly in the BCHL are invited to next weekend’s NHL Scouting Combine in Buffalo. Forwards Ryan Gropp (Penticton, 2012-13) and Mathew Barzal (Coquitlam AP, 2012-13) were each a force in the WHL this season with the T-Birds. Gropp, who’s 18, had 58 points (30 goals, 28 assists) in 67 games with Seattle while the 18-year-old Barzal notched 57 points (12 goals, 45 assists) in 44 games. The complete list of players invited to the Combine is available here.

Former goaltender Bruno Campese (Penticton, 1979-81) is back coaching in BC after being announced as the Okanagan Hockey Academy Prep team’s new Head Coach. The 51-year-old was Head Coach of the Prince Albert Raiders of the WHL from 2008-11 and then General Manager from 2011 until this past season. Campese also coached in the BCHL from 2000-02 with Trail and 2003-07 with Penticton.

Eagles Add Eruzione, Vees Name Three More Recruits, Grizzlies Announce 14 Commitments, Kariya Inducted into BC Sports Hall of Fame:

The Surrey Eagles added a familiar name to their roster for 2015-16 with the commitment of 19-year-old Danny Eruzione. His uncle, Mike, was the captain and scored the winning goal for the US team at the 1980 Winter Olympics that beat the USSR in the “Miracle on Ice” game. Eruzione comes from the Cushing Academy prep school where he was played US High School hockey for the last two seasons. In 2014-15, the Winthrop, MA product had 31 points (11 goals, 20 assists) in 33 games. 

Penticton announced its fifth, sixth, and seventh recruits of the week on Thursday. I already covered the commitment of 16-year-old Griffin Mendel earlier this month, so I’ll focus on the other two players. Heading to the Vees are 17-year-old defenseman Sam Jones and 17-year-old forward Taylor Ward, who is the son of former Vancouver Canucks player Dixon Ward.

Jones, who’s from Birmingham, England, but has played all of his hockey in North America, had 31 points (seven goals, 24 assists) in 28 games last season for the Okanagan Hockey Academy Red Prep team. He also played five games with the junior B Summerland Steam as an affiliate player.

Ward played with the Okanagan Hockey Academy White Prep team in 2014-15, putting up 50 points (nine goals, 41 assists) in 28 games. He also got into two games with Penticton as an affiliate player and scored his first career BCHL goal. Ward was with the Vees during the BCHL Championship series vs. Nanaimo and also at the Western Canada Cup and RBC Cup.

The Victoria Grizzlies announced an astounding 14 player commitments on Thursday, but many of them I’ve already covered here as they were already added to the team’s “New Recruits” roster on the BCHL website. Joining Victoria are forwards Corey Iapalucci, Tyler Preziuso, Keyvan Mokhtari, Tyler Welsh and defenseman Drayson Pears. 

Iapalucci is a 19-year-old from Kirkland, PQ. He spent last season with the Ogden Mustangs of the Western States (Tier III Junior A) Hockey League. Iapalucci finished second in scoring on the Mustangs with 53 points (18 goals, 35 assists) in 41 games. He hasn’t played junior A hockey in Canada before, but was taken in the second round, 21st overall by the Hawkesbury Hawks in the 2014 Central Canada Hockey League Draft.

Preziuso, from Burnaby, BC, played for the BC Major Midget League South Island Royals last season. He tied for third in team scoring with 40 points (16 goals, 24 assists) in 40 games. The 16-year-old was selected in the third round, 61st overall by Medicine Hat in the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft. 

Mokhtari also hails from Burnaby. The 17-year-old spent 2014-15 with the Burnaby Winter Club Prep team of the Canadian Sport School Hockey League and posted 36 points (19 goals, 17 assists) in 22 games. He also got into three BCHL games with Trail as an AP and had one assist. Mokhtari was chosen by Everett in the seventh round, 136th overall in the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft.

Welsh, an 18-year-old from Whistler, BC played last season with the Campbell River Storm of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League, where he had 75 points (17 goals, 58 assists) in 48 games. He played one game as an AP for the Grizzlies and scored a goal.

Pears is a hometown Victoria player for the Grizzlies. He skated with the VIJHL’s Westshore Wolves in 2014-15, tallying 24 points (six goals, 18 assists) in 47 games. The 17-year-old played the previous season for the BCMML South Island Royals, where he had six points (two goals, four assists) in 40 games.

It is interesting to note that in their media release, the Grizzlies announced that forward Kale Kane had committed to the team, but Chilliwack already announced his commitment to the Chiefs earlier this month. Word is that the 18-year-old University of Vermont recruit originally committed to Victoria, but changed his mind and decided to go to Chilliwack instead. 

Forward Paul Kariya (Penticton, 1990-92) was among the inductees into the BC Sports Hall of Fame on Thursday night. Kariya, who put up 244 points (91 goals, 153 assists) in 94 career BCHL games, played 15 NHL seasons from 1994-2010 for Anaheim, Colorado, Nashville, and St. Louis, compiling 989 points in 989 games. He is a two-time winner of the Lady Byng Trophy for gentlemanly conduct and sportsmanship, was selected to the NHL first all-star team three times (1996, 1997, 1999) and second all-star team twice (2000, 2003), and represented Canada at 1994 and 2002 Olympic Games, helping Team Canada to silver and gold medals respectively.

Geoff Grimwood (Victoria, 1998-2000) is the new GM and Head Coach of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s Kindersley Klippers. Grimwood has spent the last three seasons as an assistant coach with the Victoria Royals of the WHL and head coach of the South Island Royals of the BCMML. Prior to that, he was an assistant coach for the Powell River Kings from 2010-12.

Forward Hunter Bishop (Vernon, 2005-08) has signed with the Krefeld Pinguine of the German Elite League for 2015-16. In 48 games with Olimpija Ljubljana of the Austrian League in 2014-15, the 27-year-old had 36 points (20 goals, 16 assists).

Forwards Adam Naglich (Victoria, 2002-05) and Ken Magowan (Vernon, 1998-2000) along with goaltender Matt Zaba (Penticton, Vernon, 2001-03) have all left the Vienna Capitals. Zaba is rehabbing an injury and didn’t think he’d be healthy to start the 2015-16 season, so he left the Capitals. In 38 games in 2014-15, the 31-year-old from Yorkton, SK had a 2.29 goals-against-average and a .920 save percentage. Magowan only played 10 games for Vienna in 2014-15 and had four points (two goals, two assists). The 33-year-old from Kelowna, BC also skated in 17 games with Lowen Frankfurt of the German 2nd League, posting 17 points (nine goals, eight assists). Naglich, who’s from Las Vegas, skated in 21 games for Vienna last season, notching five points (four goals, one assist). 

Brian Lebler (Penticton, 2004-06) signed a one-year contract with ERC Ingolstadt of the German Elite League for 2015-16. The 26-year-old played in the Austrian League in 2014-15 and had 53 points (35 goals, 18 assists) in 54 games with EHC Linz. He also represented Austria at the World Hockey Championships, where he had two goals in seven games.

Bulldogs Increase Evin’s Role, Vees Announce Three More Recruits, Caps Forward Burton Heads to Union:

The Alberni Valley Bulldogs increased their coaching staff on Wednesday, adding Alex Evin as a full-time assistant coach. The 28-year-old comes from the Selkirk College Saints of the BC Intercollegiate Hockey League, where he coached the team to its third straight league championship. He spent the last two seasons as the Bulldogs goaltending coach from afar and will now move to Port Alberni on a permanent basis. In addition to winning the 2015 BCIHL championship as coach of Selkirk College, Evin also won two titles as an assistant with the Saints in 2014 and 2013. He played five years in the BCHL with Powell River, Williams Lake, and Penticton, where he won a Fred Page Cup with the Vees in 2008. Evin is a graduate of Colgate University.

Penticton added three forwards to their recruiting ranks Wednesday with the commitment of Benjamin Brar, Owen Sillinger, and Jason Lavallee. Brar is from Abbotsford, BC and the 16-year-old had 59 points (29 goals, 30 assists) in 28 games with the Yale Hockey Academy Prep team. He also played one game with Cowichan as an affiliate player, but didn’t notch any points. Brar is committed to the University of Denver for September 2017.

Sillinger, whose dad Mike played 1,049 career NHL games, skated with the Regina Pat Canadians of the Saskatchewan Midget Hockey League in 2014-15 and put up 64 points (25 goals, 39 assists) in 42 games. He also got into three games as an affiliate player with the Melville Millionaires of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. The 17-year-old was named most valuable player at this year’s Telus Cup, which is the national midget championship tournament.

Lavallee comes to Penticton from the Sorel-Tracy Rebelles, which is a prep school team in Quebec. In 31 games last season, the 19-year-old had 50 points (28 goals, 22 assists). He also added 11 points (five goals, six assists) in nine playoff games as the Rebelles won the Quebec College Hockey League championship.

Cowichan Capitals forward Ryan Burton is off to Union College in September 2016 after committing to the school on Wednesday. In his first BCHL season, the Thunder Bay, ON product had 27 points (seven goals, 20 assists) in 56 games. Of his 27 points, 19 of them came in the final 22 games of the season. Burton was a 20th round selection, 319th overall, of the Madison Capitols in last year’s USHL Entry Draft, but is returning to Cowichan for 2015-16 before heading to Union next fall.

Cents GM/Head Coach Pierce Moves Up to WHL, Brodzinski and Donohue Commit to Vees, PG Forward Leung Commits to Wilfrid Laurier:

The BCHL lost one of its best coaches on Tuesday with word that Luke Pierce is the new Head Coach of the WHL’s Kootenay Ice. Pierce, who signed a three-year contract with the Ice, leaves his hometown of Merritt, where he was GM and Head Coach of the Centennials for the last six seasons. The 31-year-old was hired in the summer of 2009 as an assistant coach for the Cents, but the society that runs the club decided to hands over the reins to Pierce on November 25th of that year after losing 20 of its first 28 games under the guidance of  Dylan and Tyler Forsythe. Since then, he’s coached Merritt to a 170-129-10-21 record and six straight playoff appearances. He also was named BCHL Interior Conference Coach of the Year in 2012-13. 

Where Pierce’s resignation leaves Assistant GM and Assistant Coach Joe Martin is anyone’s guess. You’ve got to think that Martin’s in the mix to be promoted to GM and Head Coach. I caught up with Pierce on Tuesday afternoon, a few hours after news broke that he was leaving the team he grew up watching, played junior hockey for, and eventually through his direction, returned to respectability.

Penticton announced four recruits for the 2015-16 season on Tuesday. All four are American players and although I’ve already covered the commitment of 20-year-old defenseman Colton Poolman and 19-year-old forward Dixon Bowen, there are two others I’ve yet to mention. Among them is forward Easton Brodzinski. The 18-year-old played last season with the Blaine High School men’s hockey team, putting up 44 points (25 goals, 19 assists) in 25 games. In a three year career at Blaine, Brodzinski finished with 78 points (47 goals, 31 assists) in 82 games. He’s committed to St. Cloud State University for 2016-17.

The other player the Vees received a commitment from is 18-year-old defenseman Seamus Donohue. He’s played the last four seasons at St. Thomas Academy in Minnesota, tallying 76 points (nine goals, 67 assists) in 96 games. Donohue has also been a point-per-game player in the playoffs, with 15 points (three goals, 12 assists) in 15 games. He’s committed to attend the US Air Force Academy in September 2016.

Forward Jarryd Leung has committed to Wilfrid Laurier University of the CIS for 2015-16. The Victoria, BC native finished the season with Prince George after being acquired from Powell River. In 14 games with the Kings, the 20-year-old notched 10 points (five goals, five assists) and in 30 games with the Spruce Kings, Leung added 29 points (six goals, 23 assists). He’s a veteran of 193 career BCHL games and the eighth member of last season’s Prince George roster to commit to post-secondary school and college hockey.

Creamer Commits to Clippers, Krabben Commits to Grizzlies, Victoria to Host Junior B Championship, Lucero Commits to EWU, SFU Hockey Hiring:

The Nanaimo Clippers continued to restock their roster for the 2015-16 season with the commitment of forward Matt Creamer. The 18-year-old played with the Selects Hockey Academy U18 team at the South Kent School in Connecticut, where he posted 36 points (15 goals, 21 assists) in 28 games. The Warwick, Rhode Island product added seven points (three goals, four assists) in four playoff games. Creamer is committed to attend Quinnipiac in September 2016 to play for the Bobcats. He is the second US-born player and seventh overall to commit to Nanaimo for 2015-16.

Defenseman Mark Krabben is off to the Victoria Grizzlies for the 2015-16 season. Krabben, who was the captain of the Okanagan Rockets of the BC Major Midget League, is the third blueliner to commit to the Grizzlies this off-season. The 17-year-old from Calgary had 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) in 39 games with the Rockets in 2014-15 and has 30 points (nine goals, 21 assists) in 79 career BCMML games overall.

The Victoria Cougars are guaranteed a chance to play in the BC Provincial Junior B tournament in 2016. With the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League in line to host the Cyclone Taylor Cup next season, Victoria put forth a bid to host and on Monday, BC Hockey announced that the Cougars were selected. The tournament runs from April 7 – 10, 2016 and includes the playoff champions from the VIJHL, Kootenay International Junior Hockey League and Pacific Junior Hockey League, plus the host squad. The 2015 Cyclone Taylor Cup was hosted by the PJHL’s Mission City Outlaws this past April and the VIJHL’s Campbell River Storm beat the KIJHL-champion Kimberley Dynamiters 6-5 in the gold medal game.

Eastern Washington University announced its latest recruit in the class of 2015-16 and it’s 20-year-old forward Matt Lucero of North Vancouver, BC. Lucero played last season with Grand Forks of the KIJHL and finished with 35 points (14 goals, 21 assists) in 50 games. The season before, he had 13 points (nine goals, four assists) in 47 games with the KIJHL’s Revelstoke Grizzlies. He’s the fifth player to commit to EWU for next season.

SFU Men’s Hockey is hiring for the 2015-16 season. On its website, SFU has postings for a part-time Sales Coordinator, a part-time Marketing Coordinator, and an Equipment Manager. Details on the positions are here.

BCHL Showcase Returns to Chilliwack, PG Hires New Broadcaster, Speculation on Harbinson, Wenatchee Changes Announcement Details:

For the fourth straight season, the Bauer BCHL Showcase is scheduled for Prospera Centre in Chilliwack. If this year’s Showcase follows the format of the previous three events, it will see each BCHL team play two games – which count in the regular season standings – against teams outside of its division. With Wenatchee in the league for 2015-16, there is an imbalance of 17 teams, so it’s interesting to see how the BCHL deals with that. Another change for the Showcase this season is the fact that all games will be played on the main rink at Prospera Centre. As a result, the event is now four days, running from Thursday, September 24 to Sunday, September 27. The schedule for the Showcase is expected following the BCHL’s Annual General Meeting, which runs June 4 – 6. The dates of the Bauer BCHL Showcase are also later than it traditionally has been held, so it leads me to believe that the regular season will already be underway when the Showcase rolls around. More than 200 professional and collegiate scouts and coaches have attended each Showcase and I’d expect this year to be no different, if not more.

The Prince George Spruce Kings announced the hiring of Ryan Lepper as Broadcaster and Communications Director for the 2015-16 season. He takes over for Ron St. Clair, who called a handful of games for the Spruce Kings last season. In a news release, General Manager Mike Hawes says that a big reason for Lepper’s hiring is for the Spruce Kings to be able to broadcast their road games. Lepper, who’s graduating in June from BCIT’s Radio Arts & Entertainment Program, will also oversee all social media accounts for the team and be heavily involved in creating and maintaining its blog and website. He will also oversee all media related issues for the Spruce Kings. The Coquitlam, BC native provided play-by-play for the junior B Port Moody Panthers home games in 2014-15.

Steve Ewen, who’s a friend of the blog and sports writer for The Province newspaper, penned an article Thursday which speculated on the future of Penticton President, GM, and Head Coach Fred Harbinson. With two years remaining on his current contract at the time, the 43-year-old signed a five-year extension back in 2012, which has him under contract through the 2018-19 season. There is rumoured to be interest in bringing Harbinson in as an assistant coach with the University of Wisconsin, as well, the WHL’s Vancouver Giants may look to Harbinson to fill their coaching vacancy. Ewen’s story also looks at the situations of Tyson Jost and Dante Fabbro – and whether they’ll be back in the BCHL next season. The article from is here.

According to News 1130 Sports in Vancouver, Ron Toigo, who owns the WHL Giants, is one of the parties looking into buying the Nanaimo Clippers. The radio station tweeted it out Friday morning, stating that Toigo hadn’t made an offer to buy the Clippers, but was exploring the opportunity. Nanaimo’s ownership announced earlier this month that it was looking to sell the team. 

Wenatchee has changed the date and time of its announcement about joining the BCHL. The original announcement stated that a press release would go out on May 31st that involves “exciting news” about the Wild franchise. On Wednesday, the team declared on its Facebook page that the press release is now a media conference on June 1st at 12 pm with Wild GM and Head Coach Bliss Littler, Director of Sales and Marketing Don West, Toyota Town Centre GM Mark Miller and two special guests. On Friday, the Wild changed the time of the media conference to 3 pm due to the travel schedule of their special guests. One can only speculate that one of the two special guests is BCHL Commissioner John Grisdale.
Hello Wild Fans, Due to the travel schedule of our special guest we have had to change the time of the press conference…

The Langley Rivermen lost one of their returning players on Thursday when forward Colton Kehler signed a WHL standard player agreement with the Edmonton Oil Kings. Kehler, who was committed to Clarkson University, will now forgo his NCAA hockey scholarship to play major junior in Edmonton. The Port Coquitlam, BC product had 16 points (nine goals, seven assists) in 41 games with the Rivermen last season after being acquired from Cowichan in October. He also had two goals in nine games with the Capitals. The 17-year-old was chosen by the Oil Kings in the 7th round, 154th overall in the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft.

The Rivermen did add what they hope is some offense with the commitment of 18-year-old forward Braydon Barker for the 2015-16 season. The Red Deer, AB native had 33 points (11 goals, 22 assists) in 38 games with the Columbia Valley Rockies of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League last season. I’m not sure why, but Barker finished the year on the Rockies reserve roster, at least according to the KIJHL website. He played two games with Langley as an affiliate and scored two goals. Barker also notched one goal in six playoff games with the Rivermen.

West Kelowna defenseman Kristian Blumenschein secured his NCAA future by committing to Colorado College, starting in September 2016. The 18-year-old from Kelowna led all Warriors blueliners in scoring in 2014-15 with 42 points (seven goals, 35 assists) in 55 games. His 35 assists was also tops among all rookie defensemen in the BCHL. Blumenschein should be a dominant player for the Warriors next season and will likely improve even more so on his excellent first year totals.

Warriors captain Andrew Johnson is also off to school, but with 2014-15 being his 20-year-old year, he’ll start his post-junior hockey career this September. Johnson has committed to the University of Saskatchewan in the CIS. The Saskatoon product is a veteran of 263 games in the WHL with Moose Jaw, Seattle, and Swift Current. He joined West Kelowna after being released by the Broncos early last season. Johnson wound up with 44 points (19 goals, 25 assists) in 46 games for the Warriors. He also added five points (one goal, four assists) in five playoff games for the Tribe.

Jim Hiller, who was Head Coach and GM of the Alberni Valley Bulldogs for two seasons from 2004-06, is expected to be hired to work alongside Mike Babcock on the coaching staff of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Hiller was an Assistant Coach under Babcock with Detroit last season. The hiring isn’t official, but is being reported by a number of media outlets in the Centre of the Universe.

John Chayka (Cowichan, 2009-10) is reportedly the new Assistant General Manager of the Arizona Coyotes. Chayka, who’s from St. Catharine’s, ON, is co-founder of Stathletes, a Canadian company that uses video analysis to offer a complete picture of a player’s game. According to Stathletes website, their process has “over 100-times the statistical resolution of typical tracking methods.” He only played four games with the Capitals in 2009-10 before being traded to Trenton of the OJHL.

Forward Brock Hooton (Quesnel, 2000-02) has signed a one-year contract extension for 2015-16 with Fischtown of the DEL2, which is the second level of professional hockey in Germany. In 43 games with the Pinguins last season, Hooton, who’s from Nanaimo, had 40 points (11 goals, 29 assists). It was his second year with Fischtown.

2014-15 CJHL Season Ends, Jost & Fabbro Buzz, Wenatchee Plans Announcement, Caps & Grizzlies Finalize Trade, TRU Hockey Revival Dies:

I had this post completely written on Tuesday and Blogger decided to not save my changes, so after a few days to calm down, I took the time to rewrite the entire post, sorry if some of the info seems dated, I intended to post it three days ago!


The Canadian Junior Hockey League season came to an end on Sunday in front of a national televised audience on TSN as the host and MJHL champion Portage Terriers beat the CCHL’s Carleton Place Canadians 5-2 to claim the 2015 RBC Cup. Shawn Bowles had a goal and two assists in the win for Portage. For the Terriers, it’s the second national championship in team history, as Portage won the Centennial Cup in 1973. With the loss, Carleton Place is the first team to ever drop back-to-back RBC Cup final games.

The Terriers had a truly dominant season, losing only five games outright in the regular season, playoffs, and RBC Cup, finishing with a 74-5-5 record. Portage is the seventh RBC Cup host team to win the championship and the first home team in ten seasons. The win also marks the first time a team from Manitoba has claimed a national title since the Selkirk Steelers did in 1974. It also extends the BCHL’s drought to three years, although BCHL clubs have still won five of the last ten RBC Cups (Penticton – 2012, Vernon – 2009, 2010, Burnaby – 2006).

There was some buzz created on Tuesday when Brad Schlossman, who covers college hockey for the Grand Forks (ND) Herald, tweeted out that Penticton super rookies Tyson Jost and Dante Fabbro were looking to gain early admittance to NCAA this September. The pair are both considered excellent prospects for the 2016 NHL Entry Draft and there is a lot of speculation whether they will play in the WHL or NCAA next season or beyond.
The Vees felt compelled to respond indirectly to the claim.
// Jost (Everett, 7th overall) and Fabbro (Seattle, 8th overall) were both first round WHL Bantam Draft picks in 2013. Based on what Penticton tweeted, we’ll likely see Jost or Fabbro (or both) back with the Vees next season, or in the WHL.

The Wenatchee Wild have planned a major announcement for May 31st. It’s expected the announcement is official word the Wild are joining the BCHL for the 2015-16 season, although Commissioner John Grisdale has confirmed it’s pretty much a done deal that Wenatchee join the league as an expansion team.
WENATCHEE WILD FANS BIG NEWS ON MAY 31st On May 31st We will be sharing a press release that involves exciting news…


Langley Rivemen forward Ryan Coulter has decided to quit competitive hockey to instead play lacrosse for the Hamilton Jr. B Bengals this summer and attend John Hopkins University in September. He was committed to Bowling Green University on a full hockey scholarship starting this fall, but the school wanted him to return to Langley for the 2015-16 season. Coulter wanted to move on with his life, so as such, he’s heading to Hopkins. Teri Pecoskie of the Hamilton Spectator has Coulter’s story here.

The Cowichan Capitals continue to reap the benefits of future considerations from trades made last season. First it was the Caps acquiring 19-year-old forward Nicolas Carrier from Nanaimo earlier this month. Then on Tuesday, Cowichan announced the futures from the January 10th trade which saw 20-year-old forward Thomas Gobeil head to Victoria. In return, the Caps receive 18-year-old forward Ayden MacDonald and 18-year-old defenseman Chris Harpur.

MacDonald, who’s from Langley, had 13 points (five goals, eight assists) in 45 games with the
Grizzlies last season. He also had no points in five games with Vernon before being traded to Victoria in October. MacDonald averaged over a point-per-game in junior B before making the jump to the BCHL last season. It will be interesting to see if his production progresses now that he has a season of junior A under his belt.

Harpur is from Niagara Falls, ON. He had 15 points (two goals, 13 assists) in 56 games on the blueline for Victoria in 2014-15. Harpur added a goal and an assist in six playoff games with the Grizzlies.

Alberni Valley forward Eric Therrien is off to Concordia University Wisconsin this September. The 21-year-old has committed to the NCAA Div. III school after putting up ten points (one goal, nine assists) in 30 games with the Bulldogs last season. Alberni acquired the Willow Bunch, SK native from the Drayton Valley Thunder in the second week of December. He’s a veteran of 145 Alberta Junior Hockey League games, all with Lloydminster. During his junor A career, Therrien finished with 70 points (25 goals, 45 assists) in 175 games.

Defenseman Jordan Schneider won’t be back with Langley in 2015-16 as he’s committed to Clarkson University and will begin his NCAA hockey career this September. The 20-year-old was acquired last August by the Rivermen from St. Michael’s of the Ontario Junior Hockey League. He finished 2014-15 with 26 points (five goals, 21 assists) in 52 games with Langley. In 98 OJHL games over three seasons – all with the Buzzers, Schneider had 24 points (three goals, 21 assists).

One of the most coveted play-by-play positions in the province of BC is open with news that Jeff Hollick won’t be back next season with the Kootenay Ice. Hollick has called games for the Ice over the last 16 years, including Kootenay’s Memorial Cup win in 2002. The job is one of the most coveted simply because at the WHL level in BC, there are only five positions available (Vancouver, Victoria, Kamloops, Prince George, Kelowna, Kootenay). It’s the next highest level of hockey to call in BC than the NHL and it’ll be interesting to see who the Ice and The Drive/B104 replace Hollick in the booth with.

Despite a valiant effort, men’s hockey isn’t returning to Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops anytime soon. Trevor Bast, whose son Desmond was the final recruit announced for the Wolf Pack last July, had spearheaded a movement to revive the TRU hockey program, but didn’t seem to get the support necessary from the school.

“I don’t think there was ever a chance of bringing hockey back to TRU but that doesn’t mean the fight wasn’t worth it,” explained Bast via email. “I think it is very important for someone in Kamloops, preferably a hockey alumni to keep the torch burning to a small degree. The attitude and climate may change over time and it’s important to be ready just in case.”

Bast is clear that finances wasn’t the hurdle the team needed to overcome to be resurrected.

“I was close to having three seasons of hockey funded between player fees and private donations. That was without any advertising or fundraising commitments,” he said. “It’s important to know money was the least of the obstacles to saving or reviving hockey. Once the cause went public, donors came out of the woodwork. We also had a hockey operations department standing by ready to go.”

During the 2013-14 season’s winter semester, the TRU team was forced to forfeit a handful of games for using players who were ineligible to play due to academic reasons. Bast feels that’s the main reason why the program can’t get off the ground now.

“There is no way any collegiate program could ever survive the academic failure of eight players losing eligibility at once. That is a black mark on any institution and they needed to separate themselves from it as quickly as possible,” Bast continued. “The idea that TRU even gave the program a chance to redeem itself with the same personnel running it, in my opinion, was a very charitable gesture. Baseball has survived as a club team at TRU for 13 years. They’ve had their ups and downs financially, but have avoided drawing that type of negative attention to themselves and the school. The reality is, hockey started at TRU under an athletic director and an administration that was fully supportive of hockey. The current AD has his preferences and when hockey became difficult to deal with and put itself in this position, it was an easy decision to nudge them off the cliff.”

Ultimately, Bast concludes that it’s graduating junior hockey players who are hurt the most by the failed attempt to bring back Wolf Pack hockey.

“I will always hope hockey comes back to TRU. I feel badly for the players aging out of junior hockey who won’t play collegiate hockey because there is now one less place to play.”

The University of Victoria added a veteran junior A player for 2015-16 with the commitment for forward Riley Hunt. The 20-year-old from Revelstoke, BC, spent this past season with Yorkton of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, putting up 37 points (15 goals, 22 assists) in 51 games. He’s also played 71 games in the BCHL during his career, posting eight points (one goal, seven assists) split between Vernon and Salmon Arm. Hunt will forgo his final season of junior hockey to get his college career started at UVic in the BCIHL.