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 TheProvince.com 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.

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