Saturday, March 25, 2017
BCHL News & Trades:
BCHL News & Trades:
WHL Vows To Bring Team To Nanaimo If New Arena Gets Nod:
The Western Hockey League has committed to opening a franchise in Nanaimo — if residents vote in favour of building a new events centre. League commissioner Ron Robison issued a statement Tuesday stating a franchise would be operational in Nanaimo next season if Saturday’s referendum on borrowing $80 million to build the facility is successful. “The WHL remains fully committed to delivering a WHL franchise to Nanaimo, either through relocation or expansion, and will move forward to obtain the necessary final approvals should the residents of the City of Nanaimo vote in favour of a new events centre,” he said. Robison said the WHL and the City of Nanaimo have entered a memorandum of understanding: If a new centre that meets WHL standards is approved, a franchise will enter a 20-year lease and begin playing out of the existing Frank Crane Arena next season. Frank Crane Arena is home to the Clippers hockey team, which plays in the B.C. Hockey League. The team’s lease with the City of Nanaimo and the arena ends following this season, and team officials have said a WHL team would likely displace them. Robison would not elaborate on the new team’s ownership, but said it would be of the “highest calibre” and include local investment. Nanaimo Coun. Bill Bestwick, who supports building the new events centre, said he has not been informed by the league who is in the potential ownership group. “But this is a clear indication by the league that it will come here,” he said. “And the WHL does not set itself up for failure within a market. It would be very sound ownership.” The referendum proposes borrowing $80 million for an events centre on derelict city-owned waterfront property on the downtown south side. It would have seating for 5,700 for hockey and 7,100 for concerts. Don Bonner, a spokesman for the No Committee, called the WHL promise a “desperate attempt to get more Yes votes out.” He said opponents of the project aren’t against a new arena or a WHL team in Nanaimo. “But this particular project is not in anybody’s interest because of the costs and this being our last bit of waterfront.” Bestwick said the waterfront site is ideal for a showpiece facility and what it can bring to the city. “I am going to see Elton John this weekend in Victoria,” Bestwick said, adding that performers of that calibre would not be in the capital if not for Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre. Advance voting on the referendum takes place today from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Island Conference Centre.
Salmon Arm-Cowichan Trade:
Salmon Arm Silverbacks general manager Troy Mick today announced the team has announced the Future Considerations part of the Jan 10, 2017 trade with the Cowichan Valley Capitals that saw 96 forward Mitch Skapski & 97 forward Haydn Hopkins to the Cowichan Valley Capitals for 98 forward Trevor Ayre (Surrey, BC), Ryan Hogg (Duncan, BC) & Future considerations. The Silverbacks would like to welcome 97 Forward Jared Domin & 97 Forward Michael Montambault to Salmon Arm. Domin from Novi, MI had 21 goals and 23 assists in 49 games this past season for the Caps. His BCHL totals are 37 goals 46 assists for 83 points in 102 BCHL career games. The 6 ft 195 lbs forward also had 137 PIMs to go with his impressive point totals. Montambault from Ann Arbor, MI had 8 goals 19 assists for a total 27 points in 48 games played in his 1st BCHL season as he played last year in the USHL for the Omaha Lancers & Des Moines Buccaneers. He was the leading scorer for the Capitals in the 2016-2017 BCHL playoffs with 1 goal 4 assists for 5 points in 4 playoff games. “We are very excited to add these proven veterans to our line up for next season” stated Head Coach Misko Antisin. They make us better immediately and will add an offensive fire power to our team next year.
Bowes Joins Vees For Playoff Run:
F Cassidy Bowes (18) will be joining the BCHL’s Penticton Vees for the remainder of their playoff run that begins Friday against the Merritt Centennials. Bowes played 30 games this season with Okanagan Hockey Academy collecting 49 points. Bowes is listed at 5'11 180lbs.
Preliminary Results Show 80 Per Cent 'no' Vote For Nanaimo Events Centre:
With all polling stations in the City of Nanaimo reporting, 80.3 per cent of voters have rejected borrowing $80 million for the Nanaimo events centre. Polls closed at 8 p.m. in Nanaimo and preliminary results were released at City Hall. All 14 polling stations across the city have reported, with 80.3 per cent of voters rejecting the request to borrow up to $80 million for the proposed project on the waterfront. Nanaimo Mayor Bill McKay said he was not surprised at the result. “I expected that based on the conversations I’ve had with members in the community. I didn’t expect it was going to be this high,” said Mayor Bill McKay. “They’ve made their position very clear on this particular project at this time.” McKay said council has five other projects and two strategic initiatives it is working on, including affordable housing and the new field purchased from Nanaimo school district. “This was just one of them. It happened to be at the forefront,” McKay said. At a NoVote2017 event this evening, people were cheering and sharing a bottle of champagne after hearing the preliminary results. Don Bonner, spokesman for NoVote2017, said they're very happy with the percentage. "It was a resounding 'no' to a number of things. It was a resounding 'no' to borrowing $80 million; it was a 'no' to putting an event centre on our waterfront; it was also a 'no' on how the city governance has been happening in our city," said Bonner, who thanked the citizens who voted, volunteers and donors to NoVote2017 and congratulated the 'yes' committee and the work it did. "They put on a pretty good show, and it's just that in this particular case the people in Nanaimo have spoken and they definitely don't want this thing to go," he said. Wanda Thompson, a NoVote2017 member, said she was surprised to see it was such a resounding vote in terms of supporting the no side and is ecstatic there won't be a "huge hockey barn" on the waterfront. "I really hope this city council and mayor are listening to what the citizens of Nanaimo said, because they have very clearly sent a message to council about their poor governance," she said. The 80-per cent vote against borrowing surprised Tali Campbell, spokesman for Yes for Nanaimo Event Centre. "Obviously it's not the way that our team had hoped, but at the end of the day we're thankful that it's a majority because what would have been worse, as like the last referendum, is we're split right down the middle," he said. "We now know Nanaimo is not in favour of the plan, the place, location, the spending amount, whatever it might be, so our job now is to hopefully go into this upcoming week and find a plan that's going to better Nanaimo that everyone wants to see." As for what's next for the site at 1 Port Dr., McKay said there will be more discussion. “I think we're going to see our visioning come forward. I think we're going to see a very diverse type of development down there,” said McKay. “I want to make sure there's lots of people places and there's lots of places for people to live down there.” McKay said there will need to be more public consultation, particularly with chief and council of Snuneymuxw First Nation. “I think we need to finish our conversation with Snuneymuxw First Nation because we do have to remember, this entire area down here at one point was their village sites,” said McKay. Results of the referendum are expected to be finalized at Monday's city council meeting, said Sheila Gurrie, chief elections officer for the City of Nanaimo. She said there were slightly more than 66,000 eligible voters on the voters list with about 37 per cent turnout for Saturday's referendum. “We're just slightly are ahead of 2014 municipal election numbers, so there are slightly more votes than there was then,” said Gurrie. She said there were significantly fewer eligible voters during the conference centre referendum and estimated that there may have been 50-per cent voter turnout then. “I think [turnout] was good. I was expecting a little bit more, based on the advance poll numbers, but I think I was saying earlier that weather played a factor. The rain might've kept some people away,” Gurrie said.
Vees Vying For Royal Bank Cup:
A not-so-funny thing happened to the Penticton Vees last year en route to their anticipated appearance at the national championships. After posting one of their best regular seasons ever in the British Columbia Hockey League, the Vees were expected to move on and advance to the Canadian tourney, which was held in Lloydminster. But the heavily favoured Penticton squad, which featured 2016 NHL first round picks Tyson Jost (Colorado Avalanche) and Dante Fabbro (Nashville Predators), had their campaign come to an end after losing in the second round of the BCHL playoffs against the West Kelowna Warriors. “We ran into a team that had a hot goaltender,” Vees coach/GM Fred Harbinson said of the Warriors, who went on to not only capture the BCHL crown but the national RBC Cup as well. “And we ran into some injuries. Some of our key guys were playing injured.” As for this season, the Vees have reloaded and once again have their sights set on a league crown. They posted an impressive 41-13-3-1 regular season mark, good for top spot in the league’s six-team Interior Division. After an opening-round bye, Penticton is now waiting for first-round action to conclude before commencing its postseason. Harbinson, who is also the Vees’ president, now has 10 consecutive winning seasons as the club’s head coach. Since there is no BCHL draft, clubs have to find players on their own to stock their rosters every year. “We try to go out and recruit the best players year after year and to win championships,” Harbinson said. Regardless of how they fare in their own league playoffs this year, however, the Vees will still have a chance to qualify for the nationals. Penticton will host the five-team Western Canada Cup, which begins Apr. 29 and continues until May 7. The two finalists from that event will move on to the Canadian championship. This year’s national tournament will be staged May 13 to 21. As hosts, the Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Cobourg Cougars are the only ones that already know they will be participating in the four-team event. The Vees last won the BCHL title in 2015. “Winning our league championship is a huge accomplishment,” Harbinson said. “There’s nobody left from our team that won it two years ago. It’s something everybody is wanting to do.” He’s also hoping his charges do not have a relaxed approach in their league playoffs, realizing they will still get to compete at the Western Canada Cup. “I hope not,” he said. “We’re trying to do everything possible to make sure our guys understand (the importance of winning the league title).” While last year’s Penticton lineup included a number of highly touted players, Harbinson said his current squad is much like the one that captured the BCHL title two years ago. “I think we shape up quite similar to that,” he said. “We were a four-line come-at-you kind of team. We’re very similar to that to be honest.”
Wenatchee Looking At The Western Hockey League?
Just because Wenatchee isn’t an option for the WHL at the moment, doesn’t mean it won’t re-enter the picture at a later date. Bliss Littler, the BCHL’s franchise’s general manager and head coach, told Taking Note on Monday evening: “We’re not there as an organization yet. We should catch up soon.” The Wild plays out of the 4,300-seat Toyota Town Center. The Wild had the BCHL’s best record (45-9-4) during the regular season and eliminated the Prince George Spruce Kings from a first-round series on Sunday. The Wild is preparing to face the Chilliwack Chiefs in the second round. According to announced attendances, the Wild drew 73,837 fans to 29 home regular-season games this season, an average of 2,546 per game.
Questions Linger About The Future Of The Nanaimo Clippers In Wake Of Referendum:
The Frank Crane arena is seeing a much slower pace today than when the Nanaimo Clippers take to the ice. The Clippers playoff run ended with a 3-2 loss to the Victoria Grizzlies Friday. Despite that Goalie Austin Roden has goals for his team’s future to “just keep getting better every year as a team and bring a championship back to Nanaimo.” A noble goal but one not possible if the Nanaimo Clippers are sold and moved. The team has been up for sale for nearly 2 years publicly, longer say insiders. And their future has been in the air with a Western Hockey League (WHL) team potentially coming to the City. “Probably for the last 8 weeks there’s been some, ‘Where are we going to end up?” says City Councillor Bill Bestwick. “Where will we be next year? Are we going to be here or are we going to be somewhere else?” The Clippers organization, declined an on camera interview today. They say they’ve talked with several potential buyers but no deal has been finalized. They’ve always maintained they would like to see the team stay in Nanaimo with Nanaimo owners. City Councillor Bill Bestwick knows the BCHL well, as a former coach and Clippers owner. He advocated for the Events Centre and a WHL team. He says he hasn’t heard of any potential buyers for the Clippers. “Somebody might come by tomorrow and say they’d like to buy the Clippers but they’ve been for sale for 5 or 6 years now that I’m aware of,” says Bestwick. “I’m not aware of anybody who wants to purchase the Junior A Nanaimo Clipper franchise.” The Clippers lease with the city has expired but Bestwick expects staff will now sit down and negotiate a new one with the team. “I totally hope that now that the citizens of Nanaimo that came out strongly in opposition to the Events Centre and are firmly in favour of our local junior A team now get out and support them.” That’s provided Nanaimo hasn’t lost the Clippers while it was securing a potential team from the WHL.