Monday, December 24, 2012
BCHL Team Reports:
BCHL Team Reports
December 06, 2012
Posted in BC Edition, Junior A
By / Brent Mutis
Almost all teams are past the 28-game midway point of the schedule now and pretty much everyone still has a shot at the postseason. Surrey has quietly made a move up the Mainland standings though they still trail Chilliwack, who are on top of the league. Penticton has opened up a healthy lead in the Interior while things remain close atop the Island group.
Alberni Valley Bulldogs – Wins in three straight and seven of nine have the ‘Dogs nipping at the heels of the Victoria Grizzlies. Captain Ryan Lough’s nine points in six games have him into the Top 10 in BCHL scoring and he’s a big reason why the AVB are the highest-scoring team in the league.
Cowichan Valley Capitals – The departure of Ryan Hanes to the WHL’s Prince George Cougars has meant a by-committee approach to the offensive side. Mikael Jung and Keyler Bruce have upped their numbers of late and hopefully the change of scenery for Jesse Neher, acquired from Nanaimo, will give him a boost.
Nanaimo Clippers –Kyle Kramer is red-hot with 12 points in six games yet the Clips find themselves on a three-game skid. Nanaimo allowed five or more goals in four straight games until a 4-3 loss to Powell River Dec. 1. The goals allowed will have to tighten up if they hope to get back into home-ice playoff spot.
Powell River Kings – Recent NCAA Div. I scholarships for defencemen Luke Ripley (Notre Dame) and Noah Henry (Union College) are nice gems for the Kings’ crown. Wins in five of six leapfrogged them ahead of Nanaimo into third. J.P. Villeneuve has eight points in his last five games.
Victoria Grizzlies – Ryan O’Byrne’s departure from behind the bench to play in the ECHL leaves a bit of a void but veteran coach Bill Bestwick will manage just fine. The powerplay has been productive, including a 4-for-6 night Nov. 30 in a win over Nanaimo, and is up to second best in the BCHL.
Chilliwack Chiefs – With the league’s top scorer in Luke Esposito, who just committed to Harvard, and Cornell-bound goalie Mitch Gillam posting consecutive road shutouts in Prince George, it’s no surprise the Chiefs are tops in the league. Gillam now leads the BCHL in goals-against average and save percentage while Austin Plevy and Josh Hansen are among the league’s top scorers.
Coquitlam Express – Back-to-back wins over West Kelowna brought the Express out of a five-game funk but they still find themselves clinging to the final Mainland playoff spot. The once-vaunted penalty killing has taken a bit of a dent lately but John Siemer’s nine points in five games has made up for an absent Alex Kerfoot (injury).
Langley Rivermen – A five-game losing streak has the Rivermen looking up at the rest of the division but they are by no means out of the race. Mario Puskarich continues to score but Langley needs Evan Campbell, Evan Anderson and Austin Azurdia to get going. Another deal with Alberni Valley brings forward Nathan Craft into the fold.
Prince George Spruce Kings – One of three BCHL teams currently on a five-game losing streak, the Spruce Kings have had a brutal time trying to score goals lately with just three in a recent four-game homestand. Recent acquisitions Kevin Guiltinan, Jace Hennig and Mark Begert are talented but haven’t been point producers in the BCHL.
Surrey Eagles – Balanced scoring plus lights-out work in net from Michael Santaguida equals a four-game win streak for the Eagles. Brett Mulcahy was recently given the ‘C’ after the team had been captain-less since trading Brandon Morley. Young defenceman Jordan Klimek has four points in his last four games.
Merritt Centennials – November was a bit of a tough month as the Cents went 4-5 but they’ve perhaps conserved some energy for the second-half of the season because they’ve only gone to OT twice. Goaltending remains a strength and Derek Huisman has seven points in his last five.
Penticton Vees – Wade Murphy had his season-long point streak snapped but remains a nightly threat. Brad McClure has been hot with points in eight of the last nine. The powerplay, which was a major strength last season, has just been mediocre yet this team has a nine-point edge on Merritt for first.
Salmon Arm SilverBacks – Evan Anderson has really blossomed given increased ice time since coming over from Penticton and he has 12 points in 10 games with the ’Backs. That and the addition of Steven Iacobellis has this team, which couldn’t buy a goal early in the season, with five wins in their last seven and just four points out of second place.
Trail Smoke Eaters –Injuries have ravaged the Smokies lineup and they dressed four affiliate players in a recent loss to Coquitlam. On top of that, the flu hit the team on their coastal road trip. Coach Bill Birks remains confident in his group as their still within reach of a playoff spot but they’ll need to shore up the goals against.
Vernon Vipers – November was a .500 month for the Snakes, same as October. Penalty killing has been woeful as they’ve allowed goals on almost 25 per cent of chances against. A deal sending defensive defenceman Kevin Guiltinan to Prince George for forward Liam Board should help. If Aaron Hadley can regain form, it will be a big boost.
West Kelowna Warriors – Marcus Basar and Seb Lloyd form one of the most dangerous duos in the league but captain Max French remains out of the lineup with injury. They have a top goaltender in Tyler Briggs and have one of the best goal differentials in the BCHL but it’s been win one, lose one lately for the Tribe.