2016-17 Victoria Grizzlies Season Preview:

Victoria Grizzlies
Head Coach: Craig Didmon (3rd year)
2015-16 record: 24-30-4-0, 52 points (5th in the Island Division)
2015-16 leading scorer: Brayden Gelsinger (61 points)
2016-17 leading returning scorer: Cole Pickup (48 points)
2016 playoffs: Did Not Qualify
2016-17 Division: Island
First regular season game: Friday, September 9 vs. Powell River
Home opener: Friday, September 9 vs. Powell River
Twitter: @VicGrizzHockey

2015-16 BCHL Season Team Previews:

Since this is the eve of the 2015-16 BCHL season, I caught up with a member of the staff for each of the 17 teams to preview the upcoming year. Although a number of the questions I asked were similar, if not the same, it is interesting to hear each team’s perspective or philosophy when it came to the answers.

I also spoke with BCHL Commissioner John Grisdale, that interview will be posted in this space tomorrow.

Alberni Valley Bulldogs
 



Chilliwack Chiefs





Coquitlam Express




Cowichan Capitals




Langley Rivermen





Merritt Centennials





Nanaimo Clippers




Penticton Vees




Powell River Kings




Prince George Spruce Kings




Salmon Arm SilverBacks




Surrey Eagles




Trail Smoke Eaters




Vernon Vipers




Victoria Grizzlies




Wenatchee Wild




West Kelowna Warriors

Grizzlies Get New Lease, Smokies Acquire Livingstone; Sign Korizis, Bulldogs Trade for Cooper, Eagles Recruit Venter, Roulston Commits to Uleth:






The Victoria Grizzlies secured their future for the next five seasons after reaching a lease agreement with West Shore Parks and Recreation to play at The Q Centre. There was speculation last month that a stalemate in negotiations could spell the end of the Grizzlies in Colwood, but that’s all put to rest with Wednesday’s announcement. The two sides agreed not to disclose the financial terms of the lease. “As was made known during the process, it was not easy to find a solution that both sides could work with going forward, and I think both sides would agree this is not precisely what they were after,” said Grizzlies President John Wilson in a statement on the team’s Facebook page. “But we are done, we have agreed, and it’s time to play hockey and let the players and coaches provide more great family entertainment.” Victoria is now secure in its home rink through the 2019-20 season.








The Trail Smoke Eaters swung a trade with the Amherst Ramblers of the Maritime Hockey League on Tuesday, acquiring Salmon Arm native Colby Livingstone for future considerations. The 19-year-old had 31 points (10 goals, 21 assists) in 48 games last season with the Ramblers. He spent two seasons from 2012-14 with KIJHL’s Creston Valley Thunder Cats, posting 75 points (27 goals, 48 assists) in 82 games. Livingstone was also an affiliate player with the Smoke Eaters in 2013-14. He played in six games and scored four points (three goals, one assist).


The Smokies also signed defenseman Evan Korizis. The Montreal, PQ product played the last two seasons playing at the Hotchkiss Prep School in Lakeville, CT. In 46 games, he amassed 33 points (13 goals, 20 assists). From 2011-13, the 19-year-old played Midget AAA with the Lac St. Louis Lions.


Alberni Valley added some major size and experience to its blueline with the acquisition of Tyler Cooper from the Mississauga Chargers of the Ontario Junior Hockey League for future considerations. The 18-year-old has played 152 career junior A games with Mississauga and the Elliot Lake Bobcats of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League. Last season with the Chargers, the Sudbury, ON native had 13 assists in 51 games, along with 124 penalty minutes. In his 102 OJHL games, the 6-foot-5, 205 lb., Cooper had 224 penalty minutes, but only one fighting major.



The Surrey Eagles have signed 19-year-old Jon Venter for the 2015-16 season. Venter played the last three seasons at Canterbury School in New Milford, CT. In 86 career prep school games, he finished with 18 points (five goals, 13 assists).



Nanaimo Clippers forward Brett Roulston has committed to the University of Lethbridge and will play for the Longhorns in 2015-16. The Whitehorse, YT native came to the Clippers after two seasons with the WHL’s Prince George Cougars. He had 37 points (17 goals, 20 assists) in 58 games with Nanaimo last season. In 105 games with the Cougars, he scored 19 points (nine goals, 10 assists).









Forward Robert Lindores (Alberni Valley, Surrey, 2007-12) has transferred from the University of British Columbia to the University of Lethbridge. The Port Alberni, BC product spent two seasons with Northern Michigan University from 2012-14 and last season with UBC. With NMU, he played in 16 games, recording one assist while at UBC, he played four games, scoring once.

Spruce Kings & Kings Advance, Bulldogs Force Game Seven in BCHL Playoffs, Caps Captain Commits to RMU, BCIHL Announces Award Winners & All-Stars:




The Prince George Spruce Kings eliminated Langley with a 3-2 win in Game Six to advance to the Mainland Division Final. Brogan O’Brien had a pair of goals for the Spruce Kings, who face Chilliwack starting Friday. It’s the first time in ten years PG has won a playoff series.

Alberni Valley won Game Six against Nanaimo 4-3 to force Game Seven Wednesday night at the Frank Crane Arena. The Bulldogs have won three straight after falling behind 3-0 in the best-of-seven series.

Colton Sandberg scored his first ever goal in the BCHL for Powell River as the Kings won Game Six 5-4 in double overtime to end Victoria’s season. The Grizzlies battled back from a 4-1 third period deficit to force extra time. The Kings await the winner of Wednesday’s Game Seven between Nanaimo and Alberni Valley.

SECOND ROUND DIVISION FINAL MATCH-UPS

INTERIOR DIVISION

March 14 — Vernon at Penticton – 6 pm
March 15 —
Vernon at Penticton – 6 pm
March 17 — Penticton at Vernon – 7 pm
March 18 — Penticton at Vernon – 7 pm
x-March 19 — Vernon at Penticton – 7 pm
x-March 20 — Penticton at Vernon – 6 pm 
x-March 21 — Vernon at Penticton – 6 pm

MAINLAND DIVISION

March 13 — Prince George at Chilliwack – 7 pm
March 14 —
Prince George at Chilliwack – 7 pm
March 16 — Chilliwack at Prince George – 7 pm
March 17 — Chilliwack at Prince George – 7 pm
x-March 20 — Prince George at Chilliwack – 7 pm
x-March 21 — Chilliwack at Prince George – 7 pm
x-March 22 — Prince George at Chilliwack – 7 pm

FIRST ROUND DIVISION SEMIFINAL MATCH-UPS

INTERIOR DIVISION






(Penticton wins best of 7 series 4-1)
March 3 — West Kelowna 4 at Penticton 3 (2OT) (1,502)
March 4 — West Kelowna 2 at Penticton 3 (OT) (1,672)

March 6 — Penticton 4 at West Kelowna 3 (3OT) (1,188)
March 7 — Penticton 3 at West Kelowna 2 (1,154)
March 9 — West Kelowna 0 at Penticton 7 (1,877)







(Vernon wins best of 7 series 4-0)
March 3 — Merritt 2 at Vernon 3 (OT) (1,261)
March 4 — Merritt 1 at Vernon 2 (1,338)
March 6 — Vernon 1 at Merritt 0 (947)
March 7 — Vernon 6 at Merritt 5 (888)

ISLAND DIVISION






(Best of 7 series tied 3-3)
March 3 — Alberni Valley 1 at Nanaimo 6 (838)
March 4 — Alberni Valley 1 at Nanaimo 3 (840)
March 6 — Nanaimo 4 at Alberni Valley 3 (1,065)
March 7 — Nanaimo 4 at Alberni Valley 5 (OT) (1,060)
March 9 — Alberni Valley 2 at Nanaimo 1 (977)

March 10 — Nanaimo 3 at Alberni Valley 4 (1,253)
March 11 — Alberni Valley at Nanaimo – 7 pm

 





(Powell River wins best of 7 series 4-2)
March 3 — Powell River 7 at Victoria 2 (520)
March 4 — Powell River 1 at Victoria 2 (OT) (614)
March 6 — Victoria 2 at Powell River 5 (643)
March 7 — Victoria 6 at Powell River 1 (630)

March 8 — Victoria 1 at Powell River 5 (572)
March 10 — Powell River 5 at Victoria 4 (2OT) (936)

MAINLAND DIVISION






(Chilliwack wins best of 7 series 4-1)
March 3 — Coquitlam 1 at Chilliwack 4 (1,451)
March 4 — Coquitlam 2 at Chilliwack 6 (1,466)
March 6 — Chilliwack 5 at Coquitlam 6 (OT) (607)
March 7 — Chilliwack 7 at Coquitlam 2 (650)
March 9 — Coquitlam 2 at Chilliwack 4 (1,558)

 





(Prince George wins best of 7 series 4-2)
March 3 — Prince George 1 at Langley 0 (145)
March 4 — Prince George 2 at Langley 4 (412)
March 6 — Langley 2 at Prince George 4 (1,037)
March 7 — Langley 4 at Prince George 1 (937)
March 9 — Prince George 5 at Langley 4 (OT) (912)
March 10 — Langley 2 at Prince George 3 (1,352)

Cowichan Capitals captain Kyle Horsman committed to Robert Morris University starting this September. The 20-year-old from Sechelt was third on the Capitals in goals with 18 this season while setting career highs in goals, assists and points. On RMU, Horsman joins BCHL alumni Chase Golightly, Rob Mann, Jeff Jones and Scott Jacklin.







Forward Adam Tambellini (Vernon, Surrey, 2011-13) signed an entry level contract with the New York Rangers. In 65 games this season with the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen, the 20-year-old from Edmonton has 79 points (45 goals, 34 assists). Tambellini was the Rangers’ third round pick, 65th overall in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.

Defenseman Nicholas Rioux (Quesnel, Prince George, 2005-07) signed a pro tryout contract with the AHL’s Iowa Wild. The 28-year-old has 15 points (two goals, 13 assists) in 35 games with the Quad City Mallards of the ECHL this season. He also has no points in five games with Iowa.








The BC Intercollegiate Hockey League announced its 2014-15 award winners and post-season All-Stars on Tuesday.

Most Valuable Player – Silas Matthys, Trinity Western University

Top Defenseman – Dylan Hykawy, University of Victoria

Top Goaltender – Silas Matthys, Trinity Western University

Rookie of the Year – PJ Buys, Trinity Western University

Most Sportsmanlike Player – Luciano Somerville, University of Victoria

Coach of the Year – Barret Kropf, Trinity Western University

BCIHL First All-Star Team
F Cody Fidgett, Trinity Western University
F Beau Walker, Eastern Washington University
F Shawn Mueller, University of Victoria
D Dylan Hykawy, University of Victoria
D Stefan Gonzales, Selkirk College
G Silas Matthys, Trinity Western University

BCIHL Second All-Star Team
F PJ Buys, Trinity Western University
F Ryan Edwards, Selkirk College
F Jono Ceci, Simon Fraser University
D Mathew Berry-Lamontagna, Simon Fraser University
D Jake Harcoff, Trinity Western University
G James Prigione, Selkirk College

Kerfoot and Mackie Commit to NCAA Schools, CJHL Top 20 Released, Express Deal Veteran:







Coquitlam Express F Colton Kerfoot (96) is off to the same school his brother, Alex, attends. Kerfoot committed to Harvard University starting in September 2016.

Alex Kerfoot, who’s also a former Express, is in his second season at Harvard after posting 14 points (8-6-14) in 25 games as a freshman in 2013-14. 

Colton has seven points (4-3-7) in 15 games with Coquitlam this season. He had 86 points (38-48-86) in just 40 games with the Vancouver NW Giants of the BC Major Midget League last season. Express play-by-play man Eddie Gregory has more on his blog here.


Victoria Grizzlies F Jay Mackie (95) committed to Holy Cross for next fall. Mackie is third in Grizzlies scoring this season with 13 points (5-8-13) in 14 games.

The 19-year-old from Kingston, Ontario, notched 28 points (9-19-28) in 57 games as a rookie in Victoria last season.

More on Mackie’s commitment to the College of the Holy Cross is available from Jeff Cox on the SB Nation College Hockey Blog here.


The BCHL released its player of the week late Monday night, bestowing the honour on West Kelowna Warriors F Jonathan Desbiens. The 18-year-old had five points in three games for the Warriors. The BCHL’s release is here.

As for the rationale behind putting out a media release on a Monday night at 9:30, I’ll leave that to Penticton play-by-play announcer Fraser Rodgers, who posted the following on Twitter and actually got a retweet from the league!

The BCHL has suspended Surrey Eagles D Nicholas Beck (95) for what appears to be two games for abuse of an official.

I haven’t seen video of what happened, but on the box score for the Eagles 8-2 loss to Nanaimo on Sunday, Beck was assessed a game misconduct, which one can only deduce was the penalty that triggered the suspension.

Under the league’s discipline on the BCHL website, it states the following: 

Surrey Eagles Nicholas Beck is suspended 1 game for receiving a game misconduct abuse of an official

Surrey Eagles Nicholas Beck is suspended 1 game for abuse of an official


Not sure if it’s just a double post, or if Beck is actually out for two games.

The Canadian Junior Hockey League released its weekly Top 20 rankings on Monday morning and three BCHL teams are represented.

The Penticton Vees are the top ranked BCHL team in third (up one spot from last week). Nanaimo is up three spots from 17 to 14 since last week while Chilliwack drops from 11th to 16th. Check out the release from the CJHL on the Top 20 Rankings here.

There’s a new blog on the BCHL scene as Victoria Grizzlies broadcasters Tyler Bennett and Clay Cochrane have jumped into the fray. Check out the blog right here.




The Coquitlam Express continues to tinker with its roster as it looks to gain ground in the Mainland Division. Express GM and Head Coach Barry Wolff sent veteran D Austen Bietenbeck (95) to the Grande Prairie Storm of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.

Bietenbeck, who’s from Langley, has one assist in 11 games this season with Coquitlam. Overall, he’s tallied four assists in 67 career BCHL games.

The Surrey Eagles made more changes with their roster, this time signing former West Kelowna Warriors F Cole Plotnikoff (97) as a free agent.

Plotnikoff spent five games this season with the Warriors before being released earlier this month. He had one goal with West Kelowna. The Valley West Hawks alum joined Surrey just before its three game set this past weekend and has one goal thus far with the Eagles.

Plotnikoff’s career stats are available here.






The Anaheim Ducks recalled D Josh Manson (Salmon Arm, 2009-11) from the Norfolk Admirals of the American Hockey League on Monday.

Manson has one assist through seven games with Norfolk this season. He’s never played in an NHL game. Anaheim’s release on Manson’s call-up is here.


The AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps inked F Brodie Reid (Surrey, Burnaby, Penticton, 2005-09) to a try-out. The 25-year-old was loaned to the injury-depleted IceCaps by the Elmira Jackals of the East Coast Hockey League, where Reid has four points (1-3-4) in seven games in 2014-15. 
He spent the last three seasons with the Worcester Sharks of the AHL.

The BC Intercollegiate Hockey League announced its player of the week on Monday and University of Victoria F Adam Klein received the honours.

The former Port Moody Black Panthers forward had two goals and two assists in the Vikes 8-3 romp over SFU on Friday and also had a goal in UVIC’s 6-5 loss to Trinity Western University on Saturday. He now has 11 points (7-4-11) in six games.

The BCIHL’s release on the Player of the Week is here.

Langley and Cowichan Swap 19-Year-Old Defensemen:

The Cowichan Capitals traded a player who didn’t even suit up for them on Wednesday, moving 19-year-old defenseman Jacob Kearley to Langley in exchange for 19-year-old defenseman Charlie Pelnik and future considerations.

Kearley was acquired by the Caps back in June from Victoria in a move which was contested by the Newmarket, Ontario native and his family. They stated he had a no-trade clause with the Grizzlies, but the move eventually went through anyway. 
There’s no word whether Kearley’s move to Langley had anything to do with the original deal between Victoria and Cowichan. Both Kearley and Pelnik are very good players and this is a trade that has the potential to work out well for both teams.


To Cowichan Capitals:
D Charlie Pelnik (95)http://www.eliteprospects.com/iframe_player_stats.php?player=100468+ Future Considerations

To Langley Rivermen:

D Jacob Kearley (95)http://www.eliteprospects.com/iframe_player_stats.php?player=169361Here’s the release from the Capitals:

The Cowichan Capitals Hockey Club has acquired 19 year-old defenceman Charlie Pelnik from the Langley Rivermen in exchange for defenceman Jacob Kearley.

The 6’4″ 215 pound Pelnik hails from Cary, North Carolina and is entering his second season in the BCHL having put up 10 points and 88 penalty minutes in 53 games last year. 

“Charlie is a big body with a physical presence that can move pucks and make it difficult for opponents,” said Capitals Head Coach and General Manager Bob Beatty.

“He adds a veteran presence that will compliment our defensive core very well.”

Pelnik has already secured an NCAA Division I scholarship to the University of North Dakota for the 2015-16 season.  He is responsible with the puck in his own zone and is an intimidating force with plenty of grit.

The Capitals would like to welcome Charlie to the Cowichan Valley and look forward to seeing him at training camp later this month.


And from the Rivermen:

The Langley Rivermen have acquired defenceman Jacob Kearley from the Cowichan Valley Capitals in exchange for Charlie Pelnik.

The 19 year-old Kearley hails from Newmarket, Ontario and at 6’3″ and 216 pounds, the physical blue liner adds some serious size and grit to the Rivermen’s back end.

“We’re adding a big body with a lot of skill, who can play both offensively and defensively,” said Rivermen head coach Bobby Henderson.

As a rookie last season with the Grizzlies, Kearley had 6 goals and 20 assists and 46 penalty minutes in 57 games.

Pelnik played in 53 games with the Rivermen last season, accumulating 10 points and 88 penalty minutes.

“Charlie’s a good quality defenseman and he’ll fit in well with Cowichan Valley,” said Henderson. “It’s a good move for both organizations.”

The Rivermen would like to welcome Jacob to Langley and look forward to seeing him on the ice for the upcoming 2014-2015 season.

Victoria Grizzlies Trade Colgate University Recruit Rory McGuire to Kingston:

The Victoria Grizzlies recruited five players from St. Andrew’s College last summer, and now only one of them remains with the defending Island Division regular season champions.

19-year-old defenseman Rory McGuire, along with Jake Sterling, Jay Mackie, Adam Moodie, and Jacob Kearley, was brought west by former Victoria Head Coach and GM Bill Bestwick in June of 2013.

On Tuesday, the Grizzlies traded McGuire to the Kingston Voyageurs of the Ontario Junior Hockey League for future considerations, which leaves Mackie as the lone player left on Victoria’s roster who was brought in 14 months ago from St. Andrew’s.

Moodie was recruited but didn’t sign with the Grizzlies, and ironically enough, joined Kingston last July. Stirling was released by Victoria in December 2013, and signed with the OJHL’s Newmarket Hurricanes. Kearley was traded by the Grizzlies to Cowichan in June of this year.

McGuire, who’s from Bracebridge, Ontario, is set to attend Colgate University in September 2015, with an eye on majoring in economics. He’s a solid defenseman at both ends of the ice and should be a leader in his last season of junior hockey for the Voyageurs.


To Kingston Voyageurs:
D Rory McGuire (95)http://www.eliteprospects.com/iframe_player_stats.php?player=117006To Victoria Grizzlies:
Future Considerations

BCHL Well Represented at 2014 NHL Entry Draft:

(Martin Gendron photo credit: Senators Twitter Account)

The BCHL once again had a red letter day in terms of representation at the NHL Entry Draft, with five players selected who played in the league last season, two who will play in the league this season, one who was a stalwart in the league before moving on to play college hockey, and one who used the league as a springboard to a three year WHL career.

Incoming Penticton Vees D Miles Gendron
Selected in the 3rd round, 70th overall by Ottawahttp://www.eliteprospects.com/iframe_player_stats.php?player=248347 
Former Surrey Eagles D Devon Toews
Selected in the 4th round, 108th overall by New York Islandershttp://www.eliteprospects.com/iframe_player_stats.php?player=59575 
Incoming Salmon Arm SilverBacks F Sam Lafferty
Selected in the 4th round, 112th overall by Pittsburghhttp://www.eliteprospects.com/iframe_player_stats.php?player=259043 
Surrey Eagles F Danton Heinen
Selected in the 4th round, 116th overall by Bostonhttp://www.eliteprospects.com/iframe_player_stats.php?player=105821 
Vernon Vipers F Liam Coughlin
Selected in the 5th round, 130th overall by Edmontonhttp://www.eliteprospects.com/iframe_player_stats.php?player=248303Victoria Grizzlies G Alec Dillon
Selected in the 5th round, 150th overall by Los Angeleshttp://www.eliteprospects.com/iframe_player_stats.php?player=120757 
Former Coquitlam Express F Austin Carroll
Selected in the 7th round, 184th overall by Calgaryhttp://www.eliteprospects.com/iframe_player_stats.php?player=93438Langley Rivermen F Matt Ustaski
Selected in the 7th round, 192nd overall by Winnipeghttp://www.eliteprospects.com/iframe_player_stats.php?player=146215Penticton Vees F Jack Ramsey
Selected in the 7th round, 208th overall by Chicagohttp://www.eliteprospects.com/iframe_player_stats.php?player=195477

Craig Didmon Steps Down as Victoria Grizzlies Head Coach, GM Brad Knight Takes Over:

Coaching changes continued in the BCHL today as the Victoria Times-Colonist reported on Twitter this morning that Victoria Grizzlies Head Coach Craig Didmon resigned for personal reasons and GM Brad Knight would add the job to his portfolio.

It also stated that Didmon would take a year off. He took over after Bill Bestwick was fired back in December. Didmon rejoined the Grizzlies in an assistant coaching role in 2012 after spending three seasons away from the club, which included one season as a part-time assistant coach with the WHL’s Victoria Royals. He was a Grizzlies assistant under head coach Geoff Courtnall from 2007-09.

Knight was hired in April as Grizzlies GM, taking over from Pete Zubersky. For the last two seasons, Knight was GM and Head Coach, and then strictly Head Coach for the junior B Nanaimo Buccaneers of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League.

Victoria Grizzlies – Eligible Returnees & Graduating Players:

Graduating Players
Brandon Egli (University of Massachusetts)
Gerry Fitzgerald (Bemidji State University)
Leo Fitzgerald (Bemidji State University)
Myles Fitzgerald (Bemidji State University)
Mark McLellan (Middlebury College)
Mitch Meek (Clarkson University)
Jaden Schmeisser (Minnesota State University)
Jesse Schwartz (University of Connecticut)
Travis Stephens (Middlebury College)
Chris Albertini (University of Ontario Institute of Technology)

Eligible Returnees
(* indicates an open spot – assuming the team goes with 13 forwards and 7 defensemen)

Forwards
Storm Wahlrab (94)
David Walchuk (94)
Garrett Forster (95)
Shawn McBride (95)
Jay Mackie (95)
Dante Hahn (95)
Cole Pickup (96)
*
*
*
*
*
*

Defensemen
Rory McGuire (95)
Jacob Kearley (95)
Kevin Massy (95)
*
*
*
*

Goaltenders
Nic Renyard (94)
Alec Dillon (96)