Hear from Wild Coach Littler, Cents Coach Martin, Vees Bid for 2017 WCC, Trades Start Rolling In, Marshall Commits to Trail, Protopoulos Commits to Powell River:

With the BCHL announcing Wenatchee’s entry into the league on Monday afternoon, I had a chance to catch up with Wild GM and Head Coach Bliss Littler. He touches on the import situation for Wenatchee, in addition to his impressions of the BCHL thus far and recruiting plans for the upcoming season.

With Luke Pierce jumping to the Western Hockey League as Head Coach of the Kootenay Ice, the Merritt Centennials announced the promotion of Joe Martin to GM and Head Coach. I caught up with Joe to talk about the similarities and differences between himself and Luke Pierce, along with what it means to be the head guy for the BCHL’s longest continuously-run franchise.

The Penticton Vees are bidding for the 2017 Western Canada Cup. The tournament is set to return to a BCHL city that year after the Clippers hosted the inaugural event in 2013. Since Nanaimo, the WCC has gone to Fort McMurray, AB in 2014, Dauphin, MB this year, and Estevan, SK next year. “We are in the early stages of the process and will consult with the league during the BCHL’s annual general meeting this week,” said Vees President, GM and Head Coach Fred Harbinson in a Penticton Herald article. “It’s a big financial endeavour to take this on and it will take a huge commitment by everyone. We’ve got the facility, the infrastructure and the fan base to make the event a great success. The economic spin-off for the community would be quite significant.”

Penticton acquired some firepower up front on Tuesday by picking up 19-year-old Chris Gerrie from the Olds Grizzlys of the Alberta Junior Hockey League for 18-year-old defenseman Jarod Hilderman and future considerations. Gerrie, who was the 2013-14 AJHL Rookie of the Year and CJHL Co-Rookie of the Year, had 61 points (25 goals, 36 assists) this past season. The Red Deer, AB is committed to Michigan Tech University for September 2016. Hilderman played two seasons for the Vees and had 14 points (one goal, 13 assists) in 94 career BCHL games. The Kamsack, SK raised his game in the playoffs, notching 10 points (two goals, eight assists) in 33 games. Hilderman will attend the University of Minnesota-Duluth in the fall of 2016.

Penticton also ended speculation of where wunderkinds Tyson Jost and Dante Fabbro would play in 2015-16. The Vees put out a release announcing that the two would return to the BCHL with Penticton for the upcoming season. Both are first round WHL Bantam Draft picks and projected to go in the first round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. There is considerable NCAA interest in both players as well. In 2014-15, Jost had 45 points (23 goals, 22 assists) in 46 games with the Vees while Fabbro had 33 points (four goals, 29 assists) in 44 games. In the same release, Penticton confirmed that President, GM and Head Coach Fred Harbinson was committed to staying with the Vees amid speculation on opportunities for him to coach in the NCAA and WHL.

Defenseman Stephen Penner is heading home after being traded by Trail to Prince George for future considerations. The 19-year-old spent half of the 2014-15 season with the Spruce Kings before being traded to the Smoke Eaters in December along with Cooper Leitch for Viktor Dombrovskiy. In 106 career BCHL games with the Spruce Kings and Trail, the Prince George product has 18 points (four goals, 14 assists).

The Trail Smoke Eaters have announced the commitment of goaltender Linden Marshall. The 16-year-old from Victoria, BC spent 2014-15 with the Pacific Coast Academy Prep team. He appeared in 21 games, posting four wins, a 4.42 goals-against-average, a save-percentage of .904 and one shutout.

The Coquitlam Express completed future considerations from a trade back on November 17th. That day, the Express picked up 19-year-old goaltender Chris Tai from the AJHL’s Lloydminster Bobcats for futures. On Monday, it became known that those futures were that Tai return to the Bobcats, so essentially, the Delta, BC native was traded for himself. In 36 games with Coquitlam in 2014-15, Tai had a 19-14-1 record along with a 3.70 goals-against-average and an .899 save percentage. He’s a veteran of two WHL seasons as a back-up.

Forward Chris Protopoulos has committed to the Powell River Kings. The 19-year-old spent the last two seasons playing prep hockey in Quebec with the Dawson College Blues. He notched 41 points (25 goals, 16 assists) in 35 games in 2014-15. In his rookie season, the Verdun, PQ native scored 18 points (nine goals, nine assists) in 33 games.

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