Monday, August 29, 2016
BCHL News & Trades:
BCHL News & Trades:
Centennials Sign Skinner:
The Merritt Centennials announced on Tuesday the signing of forward Ethan Skinner for the 2016-17 season. Skinner comes to the Cents from the Elmira Sugar Kings of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League. In 49 games with the Sugar Kings last season, the 18-year-old had 24 goals and 60 assists for 84 points. He was fourth overall in assists and fifth overall in points in the GOJHL. Skinner’s point totals were the highest in the league among all players under the age of 19. During the 2015-16 season, Skinner notched at least a point in 38 of the Sugar Kings 49 games, including an 11-game point streak which saw him tally 21 points (five goals, 16 assists). He added three goals and seven assists in 11 playoff games. Skinner was also a GOJHL Midwestern Conference Second-Team All-Star, participated in the GOJHL Top Prospects Game, and named GOJHL Midwestern Conference Offensive Player of the Month for January 2016. “We are happy to add Ethan to our team. He’s had a couple of very good years in Elmira, where their staff has done a great job,” said Cents GM and Head Coach Joe Martin. “This past year was unique for him in being able to join Trenton in the OJHL playoffs and RBC Cup. We look forward to seeing what he can do with our group.” Skinner’s 2015-16 season was highlighted by being signed as an affiliate player for the Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Trenton Golden Hawks. He joined Trenton after his season with Elmira was done and had two assists in six OJHL playoff games, helping the Golden Hawks win the Buckland Trophy as OJHL Champions. Additionally, he had a goal in two games at the Dudley-Hewitt Cup as the Golden Hawks won the Central Canada Junior A Tournament and the right to play at the RBC Cup Canadian Junior A Championship. Skinner didn’t play any games for Trenton at the RBC Cup, but was able to see what it takes to get to that level in junior A hockey. The Kincardine, Ontario native played 48 games for the Sugar Kings in 2014-15, finishing with 18 goals and 17 assists for 35 points. He added six goals and four assists in 12 playoff games as Elmira was a semifinalist for the GOJHL’s Sutherland Cup championship.
The Penticton Vees are adding scoring depth to their roster ahead of the 2016-17 season. Tuesday, the team announced they’ve acquired forward Ryley Risling (96) from the Canmore Eagles of the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL), in a three team trade. The Vees first acquired the playing rights to defenceman Brett Stewart (96) from the Surrey Eagles for future considerations. Then the Vees sent Stewart’s playing rights to the Canmore Eagles for Risling. “Ryley has a track record of putting up points in Alberta and is another veteran piece we’re adding to our line-up. He, like others we’ve added recently, brings valuable experience to our club and that’s going to be crucial if we’re going to have a long and successful season,” said President, General Manager and Head Coach Fred Harbinson. Risling, 20, split last season between the AJHL and the United States Hockey League with the Waterloo Black Hawks. After returning to the Eagles, Risling was limited to just 15 games due to injury but still managed to average nearly a point per-game, picking up five goals and 14 points. In the 2014-15 season, the Medicine Hat, Alberta, product finished third in team scoring with 46 points in 54 regular season games. That season he led the team in goals (26) and tied for first in power-play markers (10). In 110 career games in the AJHL, Risling has compiled 36 goals and 70 points. He also has international experience under his belt, as Risling suited up for Team Canada West at the 2014 World Junior ‘A’ Challenge in Kindersley, Saskatchewan. He played alongside Gabe Bast, Dante Fabbro, Demico Hannoun and Tyson Jost at that event. Risling will soon arrive in Penticton for the Vees’ Main Camp at the SOEC, which starts next Monday, August 22nd.
West Kelowna-Victoria Trade:
The West Kelowna Junior “A” Hockey Club are pleased to announce the acquisition of forward Mitchell Barker (’96) from the Victoria Grizzlies in exchange for future considerations. Barker, 19, is entering his fourth season in the BCHL, playing with the Prince George Spruce Kings in 2013/14 and spending the last two seasons on the island with the Victoria Grizzlies. Barker has collected 11 goals and 28 points over 120 career games in the British Columbia Hockey League. Mitchell is coming off of his most productive season in the league, tallying 7 goals and 14 points over 44 games last season with the Grizzlies. The Kamloops, BC native is no stranger to hockey in the Interior, playing with the Thompson Blazers of BC Major Midget League in 2011/12 and spending the 2012/13 season with the Kelowna Chiefs of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL). “We are excited to add a guy like Mitch,” stated Warriors General Manager and Head Coach Rylan Ferster, “He’s a solid 200 foot player.” Mitchell and the rest of the Warriors will be set to hit the ice on Monday, August 22nd for main camp before the Warriors play their first of six pre season games on Wednesday, August 24th in Penticton against the Vees.
Capitals Open Camp Monday:
The battle promises to be fierce as about 40 players fight for places on the Cowichan Valley Capitals roster when training camp begins next week. “I think we’re going to have a pretty competitive camp,” head coach Bob Beatty said. “We’ll have a lot of new faces with the trades we’ve made and players moving on.” Between several 20-year-olds who aged out of junior hockey, others who left early for scholarship opportunities, and other departures, the Caps will have openings for new faces on this year’s squad. “We have holes to fill,” said Beatty, who is starting his fourth season with Cowichan. “I believe that our defence corps is pretty solid, and our goaltending is pretty much set, but there will certainly be a lot of new faces up front, and some younger guys.” Returning from last year are forwards Ryan Hogg, Kyle Topping, Ayden MacDonald and Jared Domin, defencemen Ben Verrall, Chris Harpur and Josh Owings, and goalie Lane Michasiw. Matt Hudie, who led the team in goals last year, was expected to come back, but has opted to play for Green Bay in the U.S. Hockey League. Joining the returnees are a handful of players with B.C. Hockey League experience that the team acquired in trades, such as forwards Darren Hards and Max Newton and blueliner Nii Noi Tetteh. On-ice sessions at the Island Savings Centre are open to the public. The Caps will skate on Monday and Tuesday from 10 a.m. to noon and 7-9 p.m., and on Wednesday from 10-11:45 a.m. On Thursday, they have a morning session and a home exhibition game against the Victoria Grizzlies at 7 p.m., and on Friday, the morning session will be followed by a road game in Victoria. Finally, they have a morning skate on Saturday and a home game against the Nanaimo Clippers at 7 p.m. It’s beneficial for everyone to get into action quickly, Beatty said. “I think we’ve got to pare down and get ready to prepare for the season, and if players aren’t going to fit in here this year, they’ve got to get where they are going to play,” he explained. “It’s efficient for everybody to make decisions sooner.”
Competition Key Word As Grizzlies Start Training Camp:
Optimism reigns supreme as the Victoria Grizzlies head to B.C. Hockey League training camp, starting Monday at Juan de Fuca Arena. The 2016-17 version of the club is much different from a season ago when returning players were few and far between. “It’s probably going to be one of the more competitive camps we’ve had in years,” said Grizzlies general manager and head coach Craig Didmon. “It’s a different situation from last year for the fact that we had so many young guys coming in. This one is one where guys could be pushed out, so it will be interesting, for sure.” A total of 12 returning players will hit the ice, including goalies Mitch Benson and Matthew Galajda. The strength sits there and in defencemen Cody Van Lierop, Jake Stevens, Brett Stirling and Drayson Pears. Nico Somerville, of the Victoria Cougars, was also an affiliated player last season who Didmon believed could have played in the BCHL. Up front is where the question marks come. Didmon will look to veterans Cole Pickup, Keyvan Mokhtari and Tyler Welsh to produce some much-needed offensive numbers. Nick Guiney, Spencer Hunter and Alex Peck are all back. Nathan Looysen, who suited up in a pair of games for the Grizzlies last year, is joining the club, deciding not to move to Saskatchewan. Many other prospects will battle for forward positions including locals Cam Thompson, Cory Hatcher and Marty Westhaver. Others to watch are Sage Englund of Arizona, who played in Massachusetts; Jett Jaraczewski of Wisconsin; Calgary’s Jamie Rome; Justin Michaelian of Michigan — all strong 1997- or 1998-born athletes. Defenceman Dayne Finnson of Manitoba is another to keep an eye on. “It’s going to be one of those camps where things are decided through exhibition games,” said Didmon. “There is a really good veteran core coming back. There are some really good prospects that are coming in and challenging guys for spots. “It’s the unknown, really,” Didmon said. “As far as defensive corps and goaltending is considered, I think we’re really solid. Up front, it’s the guys that show us in camp that they can post some numbers this year who will get the opportunity.” Pickup, a 20-year-old who had 20 goals and 28 assists last season, is among the top six forwards. His 48-point total was third on the team last season behind now graduated players Brayden Gelsinger and P.J. Conlon. Welsh was next with 40 points and Mokhtari added 30. “It’s kind of nice to know what you have and what you’re bringing to camp,” said Pickup. “Last year we didn’t know what was going to happen. We had some really good players who are now coming back and had some good players who have moved on. “We were young down the stretch last year, and we could tell. This year, having the amount of vets coming back, is going to be that much more helpful,” he added. “Guys are battling for jobs and that’s probably good for training camp. You don’t want a bunch coming back and thinking they’re already on the team. It pushes the pace for us during the summer.” What Didmon does have is an extra 20-year-old. It’s shaping up for Guiney and Peck to be battling for one position as Pickup, Stirling, Stevens, Van Lierop and Looysen will all be depended on and should be guaranteed spots. “He’s a legitimate top six guy or even a top-three guy,” Didmon said of Looysen, who had 101 points for the Victoria Cougars last season. “We think he can score goals for us.” The Grizzlies will skate Monday and Tuesday with intra-squad games throughout and then Didmon pushes the group right into four straight exhibition games, which start on Wednesday at Juan de Fuca Arena at 7 p.m. against Alberni Valley. On Thursday, they are in Duncan to face the Cowichan Valley Capitals before the two teams return to JDF on Friday at 7 p.m. Victoria then heads to Alberni Valley on Saturday. After the exhibition games, Didmon is expected to whittle down to 15 forwards, eight defencemen and three goalies and begin simulating a regular-season week with practices. He’ll have 45 skaters to start on Monday (first session at 1:30 p.m.), but wants to be down to 30 after two days. Intra-squad games go at 6:30 p.m. (young guns) and 8 p.m. (main camp) on Monday and beginning at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
Castanet's Penticton office will be pairing up with the Penticton Vees junior 'A' hockey team this season to bring weekly insights on the team. The Vees' View with Coach Harbinson will bring weekly videos to Castanet for fans to get into the minds that make up the team, from head coach Fred Harbinson to the team's players. Vees director of broadcasting, media and community events Fraser Rodgers will be interviewing coaches and players alike to get their thoughts on games past and those to come. The weekly videos kick off on Thursday with an interview with Harbinson, looking at new additions to the coaching staff and new players, as well as a look at the coming training camp. This will come along with regular coverage of Vees games throughout the season.
Centennials’ 2016-17 Team Will See Many Familiar Faces:
Another exciting season of Merritt Centennials hockey is only days away, with the start of training camp scheduled for this coming Monday, August 22 at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena. An estimated 45 skaters will descend upon our valley for the Cents’ main camp, which will run until September 3, and include a pair of intra-squad games and five exhibition matches against BCHL rivals. Each player attending Merritt’s training camp will be vying for one of 22 coveted positions on this year’s Cents’ squad, and the opportunity to compete in arguably the best Junior A league in North America. There are going to be a lot of recognizable faces at this year’s training camp with no fewer than 14 returning players from the Merritt team that went 23-30-4-1 for 51 points to finish fifth in the Interior division of the BCHL last season. The veteran group includes second-year goaltender Colten Lancaster (97), defencemen Tyrell Buckley (97), Michael Faulkner (96), Tyler Holz (96), and Mark O’Shaughnessy (97), along with forwards Nick Fidanza (96), Brett Jewell (96), Michael Regush (98), Henry Cleghorn (97), Zach Court (97), Tyler Ward (99), Ryan Roseboom (96) and Chase Bell (97). Gone from last year’s Cents’ team are 20-year-old graduating players Nick Fiorentino (Northeastern University) and Zak Bowles, as well as scholarship recipients Colin Grannary (University of Nebraska-Omaha) and Nick Jermain (Quinnipiac University), along with last year’s team captain Malik Kaila (traded to the Coquitlam Express in the summer). Other players not expected to return or suit up for the Centennials this coming season are goaltender Cole Kehler (headed to the WHL), Mitch Lipon and off-season acquisition Chris Dodero from the Nanaimo Clippers (who is headed to the NAHL). Despite the large number of returning players, Centennials’ second-year head coach and GM Joe Martin and his assistant, Matt Samson, have still been busy this summer recruiting players from across North America. Off-season signings include 20-year-old Tyler Pietrowski from Curtice, Ohio. The six-foot, two-inch, 185-pound power forward played last season with the Philadelphia Little Flyers in the Eastern Hockey League. In 48 regular season and playoff games, Pietrowski scored 30 goals and added 27 assists for 57 points. Other announced forward signings are 18-year-old Ethan Skinner from Kincardine, Ont. (Trenton Golden Hawks, OHL), 18-year-old Nicholas Wicks from Delta, B.C. (Richmond Sockeyes, PIJHL), 18-year-old Cade Gleekal from Minneapolis, Minn. (Team Northeast/Benilde-St. Margaret’s School, USHS) and 17-year-old Rylan Van Unen from Kamloops (Thompson Blazers/Chase Heat, BCMML/KIJHL). On defence, the Centennials have committed to three newcomers — 18-year-old Marshall Skapski from Abbotsford (Alberni Valley Bulldogs, BCHL), 17-year-old Zach Metsa from Delafield, Wis. (Milwaukee Jr. Admirals U18), and 17-year-old Michael Van Unen from Kamloops (Rylan’s twin brother, who also played for both the Thompson major midget Blazers and the Junior B Chase Heat last season). With 14 returning players and seven signed recruits, the Cents 22-man roster for this upcoming season is already sitting at 21; however, coach Martin has made it clear that all positions are up for grabs, and that the displacement of one or more veterans is extremely likely given the level of talent that will be in camp beginning Monday. Once again, there will be a local flavour at the Cents’ training camp with Merritt minor hockey products Zach Sanderson, Sunil Sahota, Grady Musgrave and Riley Barnes all expected to be in attendance. Martin hopes to be down to 30 players by Sunday, August 28, and the mandated BCHL 22-player limit by no later than Sunday, September 4.
Harbinson Demands Players' Best Daily:
Once the skates of potential Penticton Vees hit the ice Monday for the first day of training camp, their evaluation begins. Coach and general manager Fred Harbinson wants to see a desire from players to play here all year. “I want to play fast and we need to play hard. We need to be difficult to play against,” said Harbinson. “If guys are only going to play a certain way, or one way, it’s not going to work here. You have to bring a day-to-day mentality that you are going to compete at the highest level. If not, then I really don’t care what your last name is. You’re going to be here for a short time.” Harbinson insists that’s not a threat and isn’t intended to scare players as he wants them to enjoy camp. He and his staff want camp to be an environment that they can thrive in. “The non-negotiable part of it will be is if they don’t work every single time they touch the ice, it will be for a short time,” he said. “If they think they are just going to come in here and things are set, they are going to get this and they are going to get that, no, no. They better be ready to give this and give that.” This season is a special one for the Vees who host the 2017 Western Canada Cup. To Harbinson the mentality for camp isn’t different from other seasons, but said it likely gets magnified after the outstanding season they had ended in disappointment. The Vees won 50 games, but bowed out of the BCHL playoffs in the second round to the eventual RBC Cup champions, the West Kelowna Warriors. Harbinson said it gives them a little extra burning fire in their belly to want to do a little more this year. “That might not mean winning 50 games in the regular season, maybe we will be a better team for it,” he said. The Vees have between 25 to 30 players competing for 22 spots. Among those are returning players Nicolas Jones, their new captain, Desi Burghart, Ben Brar, Owen Sillinger, Taylor Ward, Gabe Bast and Griffin Mendel. The Vees will be joined a California team coached by former BCHLer August Aiken. Aiken contacted Harbinson asking if the Vees would have interest in having his team join them for the experience of what it is like playing in Canada. Harbinson said it will make for good competition during scrimmages with the players from both teams mixed. Ice sessions all week begin at 10 a.m. The second group hits the ice at 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. There is a scrimmage between the two groups at 5 to 6:30 p.m. It’s the same schedule for Tuesday. On Wednesday, the Vees are on the ice from 10 to 11 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. then play the Warriors at 7 p.m. at the South Okanagan Events Centre. The Vees play six exhibition games during their two-week training camp. “It gives us an opportunity to play against somebody else. Sometimes nowadays you get in camp and you are scrimmaging against yourself. Sometimes it can be a little too friendly,” he said. “Now you get to go play against somebody else. You will see every bodies true colors that way a little better.” Off the ice, Harbinson said sales for WCC packages are good, and season ticket sales have been outstanding. He added they will have exciting announcements in the next month as far as the Ring of Honour. “We’re getting a great response as far as alumni that want to come back, be a part of that weekend,” said Harbinson. “If you haven’t got your tickets, I suggest you get on it.”