Tuesday, October 25, 2016
BCHL News & Trades:
BCHL News & Trades:
The Merritt Centennials announced today that 19-year-old defenceman Zachary Bleuler has been acquired from the Langley Rivermen for future considerations. “We’re really happy to add Zachary to our team as he gives us a more solid look on our back end,” said Cents GM and Head Coach Joe Martin. “Zachary arrived in Merritt yesterday and will skate today ahead of our game tonight in Penticton.” Bleuler is a veteran of 105 career BCHL games – all with Langley. He’s posted 34 points (six goals, 28 assists) and 32 penalty minutes with the Rivermen. The West Vancouver native has also skated in ten career BCHL playoff games. Prior to joining Langley, Bleuler played with North Van Wolf Pack of the PJHL, tallying nine points (three goals, six assists) in 13 games.
Eagles Name Lanz New Assistant Coach:
Another former staff member is returning to the nest, as the Surrey Eagles have announced the addition of Rick Lanz as an assistant coach. Formerly the head coach with the Eagles during the 1996-97 season, Lanz returns to the team after spending the previous nine seasons as a scout with the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche. He has also spent time behind the bench for the BCHL’s Langley Hornets, Burnaby Express (where he reached the RBC Cup), and the WHL’s Tri-City Americans. He has coached NHL players like Kyle Turris and Scott Gomez. Lanz, 55, is also a veteran of 569 NHL games played. He spent his career with the Vancouver Canucks, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Chicago Blackhawks over the span of two decades. He recorded a total of 65 goals and 221 assists over the course of his career. “For me, it’s an interesting scenario,” Lanz stated in an interview with SurreyEagles.ca. “I went down this path a number of years ago, and spent quite a lot of time in the league. I had some particularly fond moments and memories with the Eagles organization. For me to have an opportunity to do this again, it’s an exciting time.” Lanz has been watching the current Eagles squad closely since the beginning of the season, and sees many positive signs with the roster. The team is off to a 1-6-1-0 start, but has out-shot and out-performed their opponents in each game. “I think we only have to tweak a few things,” Lanz suggested. “There is a fine line between winning and losing, and we’ve been in pretty much every game that we’ve played this season. With some minor adjustments, we can turn the corner and become the team that we know we can be.” The Eagles were looking to fill a void after assistant coach Colin Hemingway had to step down due to personal reasons. With Lanz finishing his commitments with the Avalanche, it was the perfect time for the Eagles to approach him – the definition of a win-win situation. Lanz hopes his experience and knowledge of the game will rub off on the team’s young players. His guidance and unique view of the game should help the players achieve of their goal of receiving an NCAA scholarship – and eventually reaching the NHL. “Over the last 9 years, I’ve been to a lot of games, seen a lot of players, and the things that I have learned are certainly applicable to this group here. If I can present some guidance and information to the these young players, I think it will be a good thing.” “The experience that I’ve had, the better part of 30 years in this game, will hopefully help the situation.” With the roster and full coaching staff now in place, Lanz hopes that the “buzz” around the Eagles that he felt in the mid-90s returns to the South Surrey community.
Smoke Eaters Information Meeting:
The dynamic was largely positive during last night’s Trail Smoke Eater public information session. Nearly 60 local area residents attended the session for clarification on the sale of the Trail Smoke Eaters hockey franchise. The main spokesperson for the board was president Tom Gawryletz. Just two-and-a-half minutes into the session, the fire alarm sounded and the building was evacuated. The attendees gathered outside of the Memorial Centre and patiently waited for the meeting to reconvene. At 7:10 p.m., City of Trail staff advised it was safe to re-enter the building and everyone returned to the meeting room to hear what the board had to say. Gawryletz began the session stating that six weeks ago, John Grisdale, Commissioner of the BC Hockey League, connected the Trail Smoke Eaters Society with a gentleman located in Minnesota inquiring about hockey teams for sale. “The board commenced talks with the interested buyer and received an offer in writing from him this past weekend,” said Gawryletz. “The board will retain 10 per cent, but will be non-voting and non financial, we will be basically volunteers. “The club is sitting at about $400,000 in debt and we find that this basically our only way out. The society has secured first right of refusal should the new owner decide to sell,“ he added The offer is for $600,000 and the Society has not decided what to do with the remaining $200,000 following payment of the debt, according to Gawryletz. “We have talked about a scholarship, but I’m not quite sure what we are going to do with it yet, we haven’t got that far.” The new owner agreed to share his identity at tonight's meeting, explained Gawryletz. The gentleman’s name is Rich Murphy. “He is in the railroad car business, you might recognize the name, his son is a player on our team, Ryan,” said Gawryletz. “This is not a father buying the team for his kid, we secured Ryan long before now, and this is not about making money. He has told me when he’s had enough, he will be willing the team to the city (of Trail). “He is not in it for the money he’s here for the kids and the community,” said Gawryletz, adding Murphy has a tremendous amount of respect for the community and for the city. “If what he says comes to fruition, he is going to be spending a ton of his own money, he is going to do what we can’t and will be hiring a General manager and someone for the office, so right off the bat, he is creating three or four jobs.” Former Trail mayor Dieter Bogs attended the meeting and congratulated the board for their years of dedication. He thanked them for the work they have done in an effort to keep the hockey team in the community. Following Bogs'comments, current mayor Mike Martin took the stage to comment on discussions between the city and the buyer. “We welcome this opportunity and are really working hard to make this work, everything I have been involved in demonstrates just how exciting it will be for this community to advance in this direction,” Martin said, also thanking the board for taking the initiative and giving Trail the opportunity to do something that will make a difference in the community. The Trail Smoke Eaters board of directors received a very loud round of applause from the attendees at the conclusion of the meeting. Gawryletz ended the session reminding everyone that there is a game on Wednesday night.
In another edition of Vees' View with Coach Harbinson, Penticton Vees captain Nic Jones tells the tale of the last-minute goal that won the home opener in double overtime. Vees head coach Fred Harbinson talks about that same goal from his perspective, and talks their away game just 45 minutes up the road in West Kelowna. And after weeks of games on the road in September, the Vees have a stretch of home games this month.
Bulldogs Sign Kuhl:
The Alberni Valley Bulldogs are pleased toannounce the signing of defenseman Cameron Kuhl (Clifton Park, NY). The 6-foot-2 Kuhl spent the last two seasons in United States Premier Junior Hockey League for the P.A.L. Junior Islanders where he scored 7 Points (1 Goal and 6 Assists) in 82 Games. To make room on the roster for Kuhl, the club has released forward Justin Lee who is expected to join the North Vancouver Wolfpack Junior "B." The Bulldogs would like to thank Justin for his efforts and welcome Cameron and his family to the Bulldogs organization.
The Chiefs acquired forward Josh Borynec (1998) from the Bonnyville Pontiacs of the Alberta Junior Hockey League in exchange for Mitchell Oliver and goaltender Robert Jacobson (1997). In the third transaction of the day, the Chiefs acquired forward Justin Dixson (1998) from the Tri City Storm of the United States Hockey League in exchange for future considerations. The Chiefs also signed free agent goaltender Brendan Barry (1997) and released forward David Jankowski (1997). Dixson and Barry are expected to be available for this weekend’s games.
Silverbacks Acquire Fuller:
The Salmon Arm Silverbacks have acquired 17-year-old Landon Fuller from the WHL Tri City Americans. Fuller, a 6’5, 220-pound defenseman, played last season with the KIJHL Sicamous Eagles and is expected to add a physical presence on the back end with a big right handed shot. He comes at the right time as the Silverbacks have four regular defenceman out due to injury. Landon is a native of Williams Lake, B.C.Fuller was selected in the fifth round (90th overall) in the 2014 Bantam Draft by the Americans. He has some family ties to the area and is looking forward to playing in front of some family and friends. He’s expected to be in the lineup tonight when the Silverbacks take on the West Kelowna Warriors 7pm at Shaw Centre.
The Victoria Grizzlies have made their first transaction of the season. Grizzlies will send Goaltender Mitchell Benson to the Brooks Bandits of the AJHL in return they will receive Goalie Tony Rehm and future considerations. Rehm has played 4 games with the Bandits this season recording 2 wins and 2 ties. He has a Goals Against Average of 2.17 and Save percentage of .902. Rehm is 19 yrs. old, 6’1 and 190 lbs. Rehm hails from Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. He is a graduate of Madison Edgewood Prep School in Wisconsin, where he played his last three seasons . The entire Victoria Grizzlies Organization are very thankful for not just the stellar goal-tending Mitchell has provided over the last season and a quarter, but also his contributions in the community. We wish him the best for his future.
West Kelowna-Melville Trade:
The West Kelowna Warriors have traded forward Damian Bentz (’98) to the Melville Millionaires of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) in exchange for future considerations. Bentz, 18, played in four games with the Warriors over the beginning of the 2016/17 season, amassing one assist and two penalty minutes over that span. The move was made as Bentz wished to play closer to home. The Punnichy, Saskatchewan native was committed to in the summer by the Warriors after he played 40 games with the Yorkton Maulers in the SMHL, collecting 29 goals and 53 points over the course of last season. The Warriors (5-5-0-0) are back in action against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks on Friday at the Shaw Centre in Salmon Arm. The two teams return to Royal LePage Place on Saturday night. Both games are 7:00 pm puck drops.
Littler Hits Milestone With Wild:
When the Wenatchee Wild take the ice tonight in Surrey, BC, Canada, it will be a milestone game for Wild Head Coach / GM Bliss Littler, as he pilots his 250th game for the Wild franchise. Littler’s career has been a storied one, dating back to the 1993-94 season when he took the helm of the expansion Billings Bulls of the AFHL (and later AWHL), a Tier II Junior A club in Montana. He would spend seven seasons there, winning 5 Borne Cups and 4 regular season league titles. After taking a year away from coaching, he returned to the bench in the USHL with the Topeka Scarecrows who were also an expansion team. His next stop was Kearney, NE with the USHL’s Tri City Storm where he won the Anderson Cup his first season and was also named USHL GM of the Year. He was there for five seasons before accepting a job in Omaha with the USHL’s Omaha Lancers. He arrived in Wenatchee to begin the 2012-13 season and has thrived in the Wenatchee Valley ever since. When the original Wenatchee franchise was uprooted and moved to south Texas, the Fresno Monsters franchise relocated into the vacated Town Toyota Center and assumed the former tenant’s identity. Team owner and president David White identified early that a key to success would be to retain the winningest coach in junior hockey. “When we had the opportunity to relocate and operate as the Wild, Bliss was our first choice from the beginning,” White said. He went on to add, “I am a lucky man to be able to work with Bliss. He is the Gold standard for coaches in my opinion. His leadership, both in the office and on the ice, is second to none. Besides coaching, I have seen what a wonderful husband and father he is, and consider it an honor to have him leading our organization.” Littler maintained operational consistency by keeping both Tom Rudrud and Chris Clark on staff as assistant coaches, and the trio remain intact to this day, adding Michael Zucker to the mix as well. Tom Rudrud first teamed up with Littler in Topeka, then joined him for his time in Tri-City, and rejoined him in Wenatchee. Rudrud has enjoyed working with Littler, and is currently listed as Associate Head Coach. “Working with Bliss has been a lot of fun”, he reflects. “He has always played a fast, up tempo game, getting the defense involved in making plays.” Clark has been in Wenatchee since the team’s inception, and is in a unique position to evaluate the impact Littler has had on the program. He states, “Over the past 5 years (since Bliss arrived) the Wild team and organization has become one of the elite junior hockey franchises in North America. It is now a popular destination for kids who want to play junior hockey.” Clarks adds, “One of the biggest reasons for that, along with Owners David and Lisa White, is Bliss Littler. His leadership both on and off the ice has really taken the Wild organization to new heights. He deeply cares about the Wild Logo as well as every player who comes through the door, and because of this, is able to pull greatness out of each player. It has been an honor to work with him the past 250 games and I look forward to many more.” In his time in Wenatchee, Littler has compiled a record of 139-79-31 through his first 249 games, a winning percentage of .620. In his career overall, he’s coached over 1,200 games and won 716 games to date. Over three hundred of his players have gone on to Division I colleges, and 25 have become NHL Draft picks.
Nanaimo-Alberni Valley Trade:
The Nanaimo Clippers acquire the CHL/BCHL list rights to Tate Coughlin(97)(F) from the Alberni Valley Bulldogs in exchange for future considerations.
Martin Clears WHL Waivers; Possibly Headed To BCHL:
Trevor Martin is no longer a Red Deer Rebel. In fact, it appears as though the 20-year-old netminder has stopped his last puck in the Western Hockey League. Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter placed Martin on the trade wire last week. When no offers were forthcoming, he was put on WHL waivers and cleared that final stage Wednesday. The Ardrossan native could still resurface elsewhere in the Canadian Hockey League. His only other option, it appears, is to suit up with a junior A team, his rights at that level held by the defending Royal Bank Cup champion West Kelowna Warriors. “He’s now free to play wherever he wishes to play,” said Sutter. “It gives him an opportunity, if he wants, to go to the Ontario League or Quebec Major Junior League if he gets an offer, or he can play junior A. “It just opens more routes for him . . . gives him more opportunities.” Martin joined the Rebels from the SJHL Melville Millionaires late in the 2014-15 season and got into one game, posting a victory while turning aside 30 of 33 shots. He appeared in 38 games last season and — with starter Rylan Toth out for a long stretch due to injury — was huge for the Rebels down the homestretch and into the early stages of the post season. He was 19-9-1-2 during the regular season and 6-2 in the playoffs. Martin garnered a 2.63 goals-against average and .911 save percentage in 38 outings in 2015-16 and this season recorded a 4.14 GAA and .888 save percentage in three starts. His days in Red Deer were numbered when it became apparent that 18-year-old rookie Riley Lamb had won the No. 1 job. “When you get into a 20-year-old situation, things change,” said Sutter. “If he’s not going to be the starter here then it doesn’t make sense for us to use that 20-year-old spot for him to be a back-up at this point in time.” That being said, Sutter very much appreciated Martin’s services. “He played hard here and he was a great teammate and he handled all of this really well,” said the Rebels boss. Martin’s exit opened up a third overage position for the Rebels but Sutter doesn’t have any immediate plans to fill the spot. “Not at this point, but we’re certainly open for business if another (overage player), one who can help us this season, becomes available,” he said. “But at this point in time there’s nothing out there that makes sense (in terms of trade value).”