I found these press releases off team websites, twitter accounts, blogs or online. All Vipers news-trades are posted on this blog as soon as released-announced.
BCHL News & Trades:
Smoke Eaters Name Clare Director Of Hockey Operations:
Trail Smoke Eaters assistant coach, Craig Clare, has been named “Director of Hockey Operations” by Rich Murphy, new owner of the Smokie franchise. “I am very excited to take on this new role with the team and am looking forward to working with our coaches, volunteers, fans, and corporate sponsors to make our team one of the best in the BCHL.” “My goal is to work with the entire community to ensure the longevity of the team.” Craig began his coaching career with the Smoke Eaters in 2013 and for two weeks of that season he and assistant coach Barry Zanier took over the reigns of Co-Coach/GM when the Smokie board searched for a new head coach. He has been with the team for the last 4 years. Clare played for the Smokies in 1997/98, and 1998/99 and in 112 games had 50 goals and 37 assists for a total of 87 points. As a 20 year old he was traded to the Victoria Salsa and in 51 games scored 17 goals and 24 assists for 41 points. Craig stated, “the trade was mutually agreed to as the Smokies were rebuilding and it gave Craig a chance to play on a playoff contender in his last season in the BCHL.” “It was difficult to leave the Smokies as they were a great organization to play for.” Craig earned a scholarship to the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) in 2000/01 and played with the team for three years. In his tenure with SAIT he scored 48 goals and 50 assists for a total of 98 points in 70 games. Craig earned a degree in Business Administration and has been working with Fortis BC, in Trail, for the last 13 years. Owner, Rich Murphy, is excited to have Craig on board and felt it was imperative to have a local presence for the very important role of Director of Hockey Operations. In addition, the present board members of the Trail Smoke Eaters are as excited as Mr. Murphy to have Craig on board. Over the last four years Craig has juggled his time between Fortis and the Smoke Eaters and his hard work and dedication to the team and Fortis was unparallelled. Craig will officially take over the reigns of the team on November 11. The present board will work with Craig to make the transition as smooth as possible. On behalf of the present board members we wish Craig the best of luck in his new position as Director of Hockey Operations.
Salmon Arm Silverback’s Head Coach Brandon West recaps October and takes a look at the team’s schedule this November. He also talks about the new playoff structure the league approved for the 2016-17 season with additional comments from the Silverback’s President and GM Troy Mick.
Wild Give Littler Contract Extension:
The Wenatchee Wild, proud members of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL), are proud to announce they have signed Head Coach / GM Bliss Littler to a contract extension that will keep him in Wenatchee through the 2020-21 season. For Littler, the extension is satisfying on multiple levels. On the personal side, he proclaims, “My family truly loves living here in the Wenatchee Valley.” He adds, “The quality of life is very high, and it’s a great place to raise a family.” Asked how it feels to have the organization demonstrate this level of commitment, he states, “Humbled is the one word that comes to mind. The confidence that David and Lisa White have shown in me and my staff is very humbling. I have worked for some of the best owners in junior hockey over the last 25 years. The Whites have demonstrated they are truly special people and owners.” He’s excited to continue the pursuit of a shared mission. “The goal that David and I share has not changed, and that’s to become the best junior organization on and off the ice regardless of league in North America.” The winningest coach in junior hockey, Littler considers himself fortunate to be surrounded by good people. “I’m thankful to work with coaches Tom Rudrud, Chris Clark, and Michael Zucker, as well a great staff that makes coming to work every day a pleasure.” He acknowledges the players who’ve been a part of the process as well. “Thank you to the past players as well as the talented group we have this year. Without good players and good people, it’s hard to have success. Without success, coaches do not get extensions. I’m very grateful for having lots of good players over the years.” Team owner and President David White is confident he has the right leadership in place to help guide the Wild franchise to great heights on and off the ice. “I am very excited to be able to extend Bliss’s contract, and look forward to many more great things to come.”
Eagles Sign Huitema:
The Surrey Eagles Hockey Club has announced that defenceman Trent Huitema has been added to the active roster. The 6-foot-7, 210-pound Huitema appeared in 46 games for the Eagles last season, amassing 7 assists and 48 penalty minutes. The 18-year-old Huitema is a native of Chilliwack, British Columbia, and should provide some defensive stability to the team’s back end. He is now the tallest player on the team, surpassing the 6-foot-6 Tyler Cooper – another defenceman that he played alongside in 2015-16. “We’re happy to have Trent back in the fold,” said Eagles Head Coach and General Manager Blaine Neufeld. “He has proven himself to be an effective defender in this league. Defence is an area that every BCHL team constantly tries to improve, and we’re very excited to make this addition today.” Assistant coach and defensive specialist Riley Sweeney also noted the importance of adding some internal competition amongst the defensive group. Huitema will travel with the team to Langley for their game at George Preston Arena on Friday night, and will be in the lineup.
Trail-West Kelowna Trade:
The Trail Smoke Eaters have added 180 lb. 5′ 11″ Mitchell Barker to to their roster. Mitchell was acquired from the West Kelowna Warriors for future considerations. “Mitch brings experience and character to our team”, commented Assistant Coach/GM, Curtis Toneff. “He will also add depth, an area we were maybe lacking.” “He’s a player that can kill penalties and play centre or wing, and we’re glad to have been the chosen destination for Mitch.” Mitch hails from Kamploops BC and in 12 games with West Kelowna this season had 2 goals and 4 assists. Prior to moving to West Kelowna this year Mitch played two seasons with the Victoria Grizzlies. In order too make room for Mitch the Smokies released California native Jack Sitzman. In his first season with the Smokies Sitzman played in 12 games and had 2 goals and 2 assists. The Trail Smoke Eaters welcome Mitchell to the team and the community and thank Jack for his contributions to the team and wish him all the best in his future.
The Penticton Vees took another two games in the last week – first against the Merritt Centennials on Friday, and then against the West Kelowna Warriors on Saturday. Those wins came 4-2 against the Centennials and 6-3 against the Warriors in a game that saw three Vees goals in just 44 seconds. That puts the team at 13 wins and two losses for the season so far, keeping the team firmly in their place at the top of the BCHL, and putting the team at number five in Canada. That comes after a shutout in on the home sheet, which head coach Fred Harbinson said caused the team to work on its goal scoring, leading to some points coming from the defence. Get the coach's take on the last weekend and the upcoming game against the Surrey Eagles on this week's edition of Vees' View with Coach Harbinson.
Prince George-Omaha Trade:
The Prince George Spruce Kings are pleased to announce the acquisition of 19 year old forward Keegan Ward from the Omaha Lancers of United States Hockey League (USHL) in exchange for future considerations. The 6’2” 200 pound Ward is from Galesburg Michigan. Last season in the USHL Ward tallied 1 goal and 2 assists for 3 points plus 121 penalty minutes in 34 games played. In three seasons in the USHL Ward has 3 goals and 4 assists for 7 points plus 311 penalty minutes in 95 games played. Keegan is committed to attend Northern Michigan University on an NCAA Division 1 scholarship starting in the 2017/2018 season. “We are excited to add Keegan to our organization. He is a great young man, a good team mate and will add some energy to our forward group. Keegan plays an honest game and will come in here and provide a physical element to our team while being a good contributor in both ends of the rink” said Spruce Kings General Manager Mike Hawes.
Thank You Smoke Eaters Fans:
The junior hockey game played at the Cominco Arena on Sunday, October 30 between the Trail Smoke Eaters and Victoria Grizzlies marked and end of an era. It was the last game the junior Smoke Eaters played as a community based team. The Trail Smoke Eater Hockey Club Society formed in 1991 had operated the hockey club for 25 years. In 1995 the team moved from the Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey to the BCHL. Dwindling fans, rising operating costs and mounting debt forced the officers of the club to look for an alternative to the operation of the club. That alternative was the sale of its assets to a private owner. Fortunately, the board found a buyer that is community minded and not interested so much in the bottom line but in the longevity of the hockey team. At this time the present society board members would like to thank all those individuals who supported the team over the last 25 years. They would like to thank the fans, the volunteers, the corporate sponsors and past board members for their contribution to the team. Let’s not forget that first executive that purchased the Bellingham franchise to move us into the Junior A ranks as part of the BCHL. Moving forward the society still has a 10 % interest in the team and will operate to fund raise for the Smoke Eaters. They will still be operating the 50/50 at Smoke Eater home games, and various other functions throughout the year. The new name will be the Trail Hockey Club Society. The present board members would like to stress that community support for the team should not waiver. It is imperative for fans to keep coming to the games, corporate sponsors to keep up their financial support and volunteers to keep up their dedicated and tireless work for the team. The new owners, Rich & Annie Murphy, Minnesota natives are all for the community and that is why they were so interested in our team, our history and our City. Let’s show them that never ending “Home of Champions” support that we are famous for.
West Kelowna-Grand Prairie Trade:
The West Kelowna Warriors have traded goaltender Xavier Burghardt (’97) to the Grand Prairie Storm of the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) in exchange for future considerations. Burghardt, 19, was acquired by the Warriors from the Kindersley Klippers (SJHL) in mid-September and made eight appearances with the club earning two wins, six losses, a 3.49 GAA and posting a .897 SV%. The Medicine Hat, Alberta native is no stranger to the AJHL, playing last season with the Drumheller Dragons. The move was made out of necessity with last week’s signing of 20-year old goaltender Trevor Martin. “With acquiring Trevor Martin, we had to move a goaltender,” commented Warriors general manager and head coach Rylan Ferster, “Xavier wants an opportunity to be number one goalie and this will give him the chance. We wish him all the best with his new team.” The Warriors would like to thank Xavier for his time and contributions with the Warriors and wish him all the best with the Storm.
Despite a 4-1 loss in Wenatchee on Saturday, the Penticton Vees took four out of six points in three games last week. That keeps the team at the top of the league, at 15 wins to three losses heading into a new month. Vees head coach Fred Harbinson talks about the games last week and some new forward power added to the roster on this week's edition of Vees' View with Coach Harbinson. That forward power comes from Matt Gosiewski from the Minnesota Magicians of the North American Hockey League, who got his first chance to play with the team in Saturday's game against the Wenatchee Wild. That was followed by the newest addition to the team, Duncan Campbell, who has yet to play a game with the team.
Silverbacks Head Coach West Relieved Of Duties:
Silverbacks President/General Manager Troy Mick announced today the club has relieved Head Coach Brandon West of his duties. “I would like to thank Brandon for his hard work and dedication to the franchise,” said Mick. “This was a very difficult decision to make. Brandon is a good coach and character person, and we wish him the best of luck in the future.” West was into his 5th year with the Silverbacks and 3rd as Head Coach. As head coach he recorded 91 wins – 83 losses – 20 overtime losses and 8 ties and a first round playoff appearance last year. Silverbacks Assistant Coaches Darrell Hay & Brooks Christensen will run the bench on an interim basis until a new Head Coach can be found.
Surrey-La Ronge Trade:
The Surrey Eagles Hockey Club has announced the acquisition of forward Michael Sauer (’96) from the La Ronge Ice Wolves of the SJHL for future considerations. A native of Bemidji, Minnesota, Sauer had played the previous two seasons in the Alberta Junior Hockey League with the Fort McMurray Oil Barons and Calgary Mustangs. Last season with Calgary he posted 17 points in 18 games. According to Eagles head coach and general manager Blaine Neufeld, Sauer is a terrific playmaker that will add even more depth to the team’s scoring ability. At 5-foot-11, 170 pounds he can hold his own physically, and should transition well to the BCHL game. “I’m more of a playmaker,” said Sauer in an interview with SurreyEagles.ca. “I can bring some grit if the coach needs me to, but I see myself as more of a skill guy. I love to create plays.” There is some familiarity with the team, as captain Paul McAvoy was Sauer’s teammate for a year while they were growing up. “I played with Paul in Cleveland, in midget. We’re pretty good buddies. Hopefully some of that chemistry can carry over.” Sauer will look to inject his skill into the lineup when he suits up for his first game with the team on Thursday night against Prince George at South Surrey Arena. “I’m really looking forward to my first game. I’ve been itching to play!”
Saskatoon Blades Trade Tychonick To Calgary:
The Saskatoon Blades have traded the rights to 2000 born defenseman, Jonathan Tychonick, to the Calgary Hitmen in exchange for a 2017 3rd round pick, and a conditional 1st round pick. Tychonick was selected 12th overall by the Blades in the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft, but opted to go the NCAA route. Tychonick made his junior hockey debut this season with the Pentiction Vees of the BCHL, and has 7 points in 14 games. He has already committed to the University of North Dakota for the 2018-19 season, and playing in the WHL would nullify that option. “At this time getting a guaranteed third-round pick for Jonathan was in the best interest of our club. We feel he belongs in the WHL one day, and if he is, his hometown team with a great organization like the Hitmen would give us the best odds of that happening,” explained Blades GM Colin Priestner. “If he signs with them at any juncture we will also get a first round pick back and that would be the best case scenario for all parties involved – he and his family, the Hitmen, the Blades and the WHL.” The Saskatoon Blades would like to wish Jonny the best of luck in his career moving forward, wherever that may be.