Monday, May 2, 2016
BCHL News & Trades:
BCHL News & Trades:
Dubois Commits Warriors:
It’s been an up-and-down month for two Williams Lake hockey players. Both Colton Thomas and Chase Dubois, third- and final-year players with the Prince George-based, BC Major Midget League’s Cariboo Cougars, learned recently their seasons would be coming to an abrupt end with just 12 games left in the regular season. Thomas suffered a dislocated knee during the Mac’a AAA Midget Hockey Tournament over the Christmas break, while Dubois broke his ankle in a regular season game last weekend against the Vancouver North East Chiefs. The news isn’t all bad, however, as Dubois was named the BCMML player of the month for December of 2015 and has committed to play junior A hockey next season for the West Kelowna Warriors, an opportunity the young player said he’s looking forward to. Dubois amassed a total of 34 points (14 goals, 20 assists) in 25 games this season and sits seventh in league scoring currently. Thomas, meanwhile, put up 11 goals and 12 assists for 23 points in 26 games played. Both players are considered leaders on the team by Cougars’ head coach Trevor Sprague. In three seasons with the club Dubois and Thomas were an integral part of the team’s success. The Cougars are currently first place in the BCMML with a 19-6-3 record. Last season, the duo helped the Cougars win the 2014 Mac’s Midget AAA Tournament championship. “Chase has been a good role model for our younger players this season in demonstrating the competitiveness necessary to have success game in and game out,” Sprague said. “Through the month of December Chase was a dominant player for our team and he’s a player that is counted on to play in all situations.” Dubois said despite his injury, earning player of the month is a huge honour. “I’ve always wanted to get player of the month and to get it in my last month of my BCMML career feels great,” he said. “It feels good to know where I’m going to be playing next season and with a great organization in a good city. “I’ve always wanted to play junior hockey and to know I will in the 2016/17 season means a lot.” Dubois noted his ankle injury came after he was blindsided by a Chiefs player into the boards while falling awkwardly on his ankle. “I was instantly in pain and had to be carried off the ice,” he said. Thomas said the plan for his recovery is to come back strong and healthy for next season to join Dubois to play junior hockey next year. “Playing for the Cougars the past few years really helped with my hockey development and the challenges of living on my own away from home made me a better person all around,” Thomas said. Dubois noted playing for the Cougars were the best years of his life. “I learned many life skills, met many great friends and it’s hard to go out like this,” he said. “I’ll always look back on my Cariboo days — the best years of my life so far.”
Kozlowski Commits To Salmon Arm:
18 yr old goaltender Trevin Kozlowski has committed to the Salmon Arm Silverbacks. Listed at 6'4 201 lbs played with the USHS Gunnery Prep School.
Vees Add Murals To SOEC:
The Penticton Vees have added A couple of nice additions outside the hallway of the Penticton Vees dressing room, two separate murals of former Captains Brett Hextall, Logan Johnston and Patrick Sexton have been added to the Vees wall of fame.
Nowhere To Go But Up: Eagles’ Owner
After back-to-back BC Hockey League seasons with fewer than 10 wins, the Surrey Eagles are about to undergo a thorough “top to bottom” review of the organization in an attempt to right the listing ship. Co-owner and team president Chuck Westgard told Peace Arch News this week that the organization is “regrouping and taking a look at things,” after the Eagles wrapped up a disappointing 7-48-1-2 season (win-loss-overtime loss-tie) – the worst record in the league by far. In the last two BCHL regular seasons – under head coach Blaine Neufeld – the team has 16 wins in 116 games. “Believe me, after nine wins and seven wins, we’re exploring all our avenues to make not only the on-ice product better, but management better and the organization better,” Westgard said. Westgard – who, along with childhood friends Gary Nylund and Scott Bradley bought the team from Ronnie Paterson in 2010 – acknowledged the recent record could hurt the team’s ability to recruit top players. “It’s a concern. After last season, with nine wins and going with the all-local roster, we thought we should change things up. We had high hopes at the start of the year, but we could never really attract all the players we wanted,” he said. “We thought we had players this year… but we found out pretty early in the year that we really didn’t, and we took a bit of a step back.” Westgard wouldn’t lay the blame entirely on hockey operations, saying instead it was “an organizational thing,” noting that attracting players is a priority. “You have to be able to convince the kids, the families, the universities that this is a good place to play. It takes years to build that, but only takes one bad season to unravel it,” he said. “No doubt about it, it’s something we have to look at, and we are.” Wins and losses aside, the 2015/16 season was also marked by the the mid-season resignation of Nylund as assistant coach, and the December departures of Westgard’s son, Ty – who left the team for the Western Hockey League’s Victoria Royals – and fellow forward Darius Davidson, who was traded to the Penticton Vees. (Davidson is the son of Bill Davidson, whose Pro 4 Sports company owns a stake in the Eagles.) “Obviously it was a little different this year, with the people involved, and (our) own kids leaving,” Westgard said. “With Ty, we would’ve liked him to have stayed and finished Grade 12 here, but it was his decision. We tried to promote the college route. He had full-ride offers from (NCAA) Div. 1 schools but wasn’t accepting them. So I just asked him what his plans were for next year and he said he was going (to the WHL).” The team’s struggles played a part in the decision, Westgard said. “You know, I think if we had the team we had in 2013, he’d have stayed for sure. But these were the circumstances.” Nylund – who sold his minority stake in the team to Westgard a few years ago – left due to disagreements over how the team was being run, Westgard said. Nylund had been an assistant coach with the Eagles in 2013 when Matt Erhart coached the team to a league title, but he left for family reasons. This past season under Neufeld – who was employed by Pro 4 Sports prior to coaching the Eagles – was Nylund’s first back behind the bench. “Gary and I are the best of friends, and I know he loved the boys, but there were a few conflicts with how he wanted to run things. Not conflicts between him and I, but between the different ownership groups, myself and Pro 4,” Westgard explained. “When things aren’t going that well and the product on the ice is not competitive, it’s a tough situation. I just think it got to the point where it wasn’t the same type of environment as it was when he first was here, and it just didn’t really work.” Coaching philosophies aside, Westgard brushed off the suggestion of internal conflict at the ownership and management level. “I don’t think it’s unstable at this point… it’s stable enough. We’re just in a bit of transition, and obviously I’m involved – I’m hoping to get back to where we were a couple years back,” he said. Though a decline in on-ice performance often correlates to a decline in ticket sales and a team’s finances, Westgard suggested the team is “alive and well, financially.” Last December, in an email to PAN, the BCHL head office reiterated as much, writing that “as far as the league is concerned, the Surrey franchise is as committed to their operation in the BCHL as they’ve ever been.” “Rumours do go around, but as long as I’m involved, there will be a team on the ice here,” Westgard said. “But everything needs to improve. It has to. There’s not much lower to go, so we need to figure out a way to go up from here.”
Vees Name Jones Captain For Next Season:
The Penticton Vees have announced Nicholas Jones as the team’s Captain for the 2016-17 season, the team announced Tuesday. “It was an easy choice,” said Head Coach Fred Harbinson. “He was a great player for us all season and a quality veteran leader. We’re confident he’ll be an excellent Captain.” Jones had nine goals and 16 points in 11 playoff games, tying for the team scoring lead with Scott Conway. He had another 21 goals and 63 points in 42 regular season games, when he joined the team in late October. The Edmonton, Alberta, native started the season in college hockey before landing in Penticton, and is committed to the University of North Dakota for the 2017-2018 season. The Penticton Vees look forward to welcoming the best of the west in 2017, as hosts of the Western Canada Cup. The team will be holding a press conference in coming days to announce WCC and Season Ticket packages.
Farkus Commits To West Kelowna:
16 yr old Goaltender Shane Farkus has committed to the West Kelowna Warriors. From Penticton BC played in 23 games with the Okanagan Hockey Academy this season. Listed at 6' 183 lbs
Martini Commits To Smoke Eaters:
The Trail Smoke Eaters are pleased to announce the commitment of local, 2000 birth year defenceman, Ethan Martini. The 6′ 4″ D-man from Trail, BC has been away for the past couple of seasons honing his game at the “Edge School for Athletes” in Calgary, AB. The Smoke Eaters are thrilled Ethan has chosen to return home and play in front of family and friends at the Cominco Arena. Ethan has played in 35 games this season registering 4 points and 90 penalty minutes. Ethan will add some size and strength to the back end. Ethan was also a 3rd round pick in the 2015 WHL Bantam draft, going 54th overall to the Swift Current Broncos. Here is what Ethan had to say about coming back to play for the Smokies: I am honoured to get the chance to play for my home town team and be a part of such a great organization. I am excited that after two years of living away from home, I not only get to come back and be with my friends and family, but play for a team that I have dreamed of playing for since I was 5 years old. I am honoured to have the chance, that not many kids have, of putting on a BCHL jersey as a 16 year old, and it being a Trail Smoke Eaters jersey makes it so much more special for me. I want to thank Trail for giving me this opportunity to further develop and hopefully use it as a stepping stone for further success in hockey. We’d like to welcome Ethan and his family to our organization.
Hamelin Commits To Salmon Arm:
19 yr old defenceman Derek Hamelin has committed to the Salmon Arm Silverbacks. Listed at 5'11 170 lbs played with Selects Hockey Academy.
Chorney Commits To Chiefs:
The Chilliwack Chiefs are pleased to announce the commitment of defenseman Austin Chorney to the team for the 2016-17 season. Chorney (Abbotsford, BC) joins the Chiefs after a successful season with the Yale U18 Prep Lions of the Canadian Sport School Hockey League that saw him finish second in league scoring among defenseman with ten goals and 19 assists in 36 games. “We are very happy with the addition of Austin to our line up next season,” said Chiefs General Manager and Head Coach Jason Tatarnic. “He’s a very skilled player who is sound in the defensive zone but he’s also more than capable of contributing offensively as well. He’s got good vision and will join the rush when it the opportunity presents itself. He’ll also add a physical element to the back end.” Chorney, who picked up three assists in five games this season with the Chiefs, is thrilled to be making the move. “This year as an affiliate, the coaches were absolutely great and the players welcomed me like family. The atmosphere of the game nights at Prospera Centre was so energetic. I am looking forward to playing in front of the best fans in the BCHL and wearing a Chiefs uniform.”
MacDonald Commits To Rivermen:
The Langley Rivermen are pleased to announce forward Alex MacDonald (1997 born) has committed to the Rivermen for the 2016-17 season. MacDonald is a Halifax native and is in his third season with St. Andrews College. In 9 games this year, MacDonald recorded 7 goals and 6 assists for 13 points. In 98 career games, he has registered 47 goals and 62 assists for 109 points. “I’m very excited to join the Rivermen organization next year. They have a great reputation for advancing players to the next level and the talks I have had with Coach Henderson have been great. I’ve never been to British Columbia before, so I am eager to come to Langley and get started,” said MacDonald. Before deciding on the Rivermen, MacDonald bounced any questions he had off a few current players on the team. “Last season, I played with Justin Fregona and Adam Sinclair at St. Andrews College, and I know Matt Graham from back home in Halifax. They all had nothing but positive things to say about the team and city,” MacDonald continued. St. Andrews College Head Coach David Manning describes Alex as a dynamic forward. “Alex is a creative, offensive player that can make plays off the rush and in the attacking zone. Alex’s best asset is his ability to be creative at top speed and I believe he can be an immediate impact in the BCHL with the Rivermen. He produced at a consistent rate at our level, and if he didn’t battle injuries in his senior season, he likely would have been our leading scorer,” said Manning. Coming into his rookie season in the BCHL, MacDonald already has a few short and long term goals in mind he would like to accomplish. “I want to come to Langley next year and contribute any way I can and help the team contend for a championship. My long term goal is to achieve an NCAA scholarship playing hockey at a school that I feel will compliment me not only in hockey, but academically as well,” finished MacDonald”.
Didmon Gets Disciplined After Sharing Alcohol With Players:
A Sooke teacher and hockey coach who shared alcohol with underage players and misrepresented himself as setting up a school hockey academy with the Victoria Grizzlies has been found guilty of professional misconduct by B.C.’s Teacher Regulation Branch. Craig Didmon, who is also head coach and general manager of the Grizzlies junior hockey team, has been suspended twice by the school district since 2014 and now has been ordered to complete an ethics course. Didmon admitted that between 2012 and 2013 when he was teaching and coaching for his school’s hockey academy — as well as coaching the Grizzlies — he bought alcohol and drank with underage players from the Grizzlies who were also students in the district. He also admitted to taking time off from school without permission to attend Grizzlies games and practices, according to the disciplinary document. In response, the school district suspended Didmon without pay for 25 days and ordered him to repay half a month’s wages. Didmon also worked as head hockey coach at another school in the district that operates a hockey academy. He admitted that, during a November 2014 meeting with representatives with a private hockey academy, he claimed to be setting up a partnership with that school’s hockey academy and the Grizzlies. He also suggested he would be running the new program. The private academy had been considering a three-way partnership with the Grizzlies and the school hockey academy. “At that meeting, Didmon made representations on behalf of the district which he was not authorized to make,” the document says. Last April, the school district suspended Didmon without pay for the month of June, removed him from coaching at his school’s hockey academy and returned him to classroom teaching. As well as undertaking to complete an ethics course by the end of May, Didmon agreed to a two-week suspension of his teaching certificate.