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.