Sunday, April 23, 2017

BCHL News & Trades:

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:

Salmon Arm-Trail 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 Trail Smoke Eaters that saw 96 D-Man Carter Cochrane head to the Kootenays. The Silverbacks would like to welcome 97 D-Man Mitch Stapley to Salmon Arm. Stapley from Campbell River, BC had 24 assists in 39 games this past season for the Smokie’s. The 5’10 ft 180 lbs D-Man also had 5 assists in 10 playoff games in the 2017 BCHL playoffs. The smooth skating offensive D-Man will be a welcomed addition to the Backs back end for next season. “Mitch will be entering his 20 yr old season with the Backs next season and will be counted on to lead the offensive production from the back end” stated GM Troy Mick He is a very good power play D-Man who will play in all situations for us. We are very excited to have him skating next season at the Shaw Centre.

Saving The Warriors:

Now that the West Kelowna Warriors are staying put, the focus has turned to enticing a fan base that has failed to average 1,000 fans a game over the past four seasons. The lack of solid support, despite a national championship 12 months ago, prompted owner Mark Cheyne to investigate selling the team that has played out of Royal LePage Place the past 10 years. An 11th-hour deal with local interests will keep the team in town. Cheyne says details on just how much of the team each of the partners (believed to be three or four) will own are still being ironed out. Those details should be made available within the next week. The team is now pushing hard to sell tickets for next season. "Our goal is to sell 1,000 season tickets," said Cheyne. It's an ambitious goal for a team that had about 475 season ticket holders last season. As an incentive to buy early, the Warriors are offering a chance to win a trip to Las Vegas, a signed team jersey and a free season ticket. Season ticket holders also get an "I Saved The Warriors" T-shirt. The Warriors, eliminated from the playoffs two weeks ago, are now preparing for their annual spring prospects camp April 21 to 23. The schedule for the 2017-2018 season, the Warriors 12th in the BCHL, is expected to be released in early summer.

Toneff Leaves Smoke Eaters:

Assistant Coach, Curtis Toneff has left the Trail Smoke Eaters to accept a position as the Head Coach and General Manager of the Nanaimo Buccaneers of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League (VIJHL). Though we are sad to see a young coach of Curt’s calibre leave our organization, we are excited for him as he takes the next step in his coaching career. Curt joined the team after a successful run as the Assistant Coach of the Campbell River Storm in the VIJHL, where the team captured a Cyclone Taylor Championship. When an opening for an assistant coach with the Smoke Eaters came up early in the 2015-2016 season, Curt jumped at the opportunity to join an organization that he had spent time with as a player. In his two seasons behind the bench in Trail, Curt has had to fill several roles, and at the end of 2015-2016, stepped in as the interim Head Coach for the team during the few weeks of the season. At the end of last season, the team was in the difficult position of not having a full-time Head Coach in place heading in to the off season and without Curtis, the team would not have had the ability to take time to look for the right coach to take over the role of head coach for the team. The hard work that Curt put in during last off season helped to pave the way for the success that the Smoke Eaters had during this last campaign. It does not come as a surprise to the team’s front office that Curt would be given the reigns of his own hockey club. Director of Hockey and Business Operations, Craig Clare, has seen Curt grow from a player to coach, adding “Curt’s leadership and work ethic paved the way to this Head Coach and GM opportunity.  Curt came to Trail and was a big part of changing and improving the Trail Smoke Eaters program.  I have no doubt he will have a successful coaching career, and I am proud that it started with the Trail Smoke Eaters.” In discussing his time in Trail, Curt had the following to say. “I would like to thank the Trail Smoke Eaters organization for the opportunity they gave me these last two years. Tom Gawryletz, Craig Clare and Barry Zanier for everything they helped me with, and Cam Keith for taking an unknown Assistant Coach to him and showing me how the pros do it. Thank you of course to the players who were all such class acts and a pleasure to work with this year! The Smokies have an exciting future to look forward to. Rich and Annie and the hockey operations staff are doing such great things. Trail is a true hockey town with genuine hard working people. Good luck!” Though the team would love to have seen Curt return next season, we are excited for him and know he will excel in his new role with the Buccaneers. Best of luck, Curt, and thank you for everything you have done for the Trail Smoke Eaters.

Effort To Keep Clippers In Nanaimo Reaches 'Do Or Die Time'

Comeback efforts are something Clippers head coach Mike Vandekamp has seen many times over his long career — but much like the bid to keep the team in Nanaimo, someone has to step up and be the hero. Vandekamp told NanaimoNewsNOW there have been discussions with "10 or 12 different people" since the current ownership group set a deadline of the end of the month to find local investors or the team would likely move. While the process is "moving in the right direction," Vandekamp said they are not at a point where they have a concrete offer to take to majority owner Ken Wagner. "There's definitely been a list of people," Vandekamp said. "(They) are kicking tires but we need commitment at this point. It's do or die time here for the Clippers in Nanaimo. We need to make sure the tire kicking becomes something solid, so the next few days are really important." He said there has been a diverse range of people showing interest, including business owners looking for cross exposure, people in the local hockey community and alumni or people with a connection to the program. While Vandekamp said the perfect scenario would be one person or group stepping in to buy the entire ownership share, the timeline placed on them by the current owners created a need to explore different options. "We need significant investment locally, that's what we're looking at more than anything. It's not necessarily about the whole thing happening right away, it's about the community stepping up and us being able to add local ownership to the team in a large amount, in a significant way." Vandekamp and Nanaimo-based team president and minority owner David LeNeveu hope to have a proposal to take to Wagner by the end of the week. "(The) pending sale to move the team to a different location on the island...that deal had a date on it so we have to respect that," Vandekamp said. "This is a really important week for us to be able to have something in place to form some kind of agreement with the current ownership they can accept to keep the team here." Since the March 16 announcement the club may move or cease operations in Nanaimo, Vandekamp said he has learned something about the local hockey community. "The vibe has been, 'you know what Mike, there's more support out there than you think.' There's a lot of people...that really want to see this team stay and they believe in the program and the history. It's time for people to step up and show that, that's the key. "That's all fine and dandy, but we need more than that at this point. We need a financial commitment...that's what we've been fighting hard to find."

Bhandal Leaving Centennials:

“The Cents win! The Cents win! The Centennials WIN!” These words highlighted the playoff run the Merritt Centennials had this past season. As the voice of the team, I got to call some fantastic games, which will forever be cemented by both Tyrell Buckley (thanks for making me famous!), and Stephan Seeger’s OT heroics. The season was full of a lot of ups and downs, from that lengthy losing streak early in the season to the incredible playoff run that saw the Centennials become the only team in history to sweep a defending RBC cup champion. The gentlemen that formed this Centennials team were a group of excellent individuals. Some appropriate words to describe this group include genuine, compassionate, hard-working, and diligence. This was a team that prided itself in doing things the right way; to be good people and to treat people with respect. All the players made bonds and friendships that will last a lifetime. They never gave up on each other. From the antics of Zach Court to the weird dance routines of Colten Lancaster and the fierce leadership of Brett Jewell, they all went to war with each other day in, and day out. And I got to have a front row seat. From the opening day of the season and the seven-and-a-half hour bus ride to Prince George (only to not have the broadcast equipment work forcing me to call my first BCHL game over my cell phone), to the game seven loss in Penticton, I had the pleasure to bring you the Centennials games on Q101 and Hockey TV. Travelling with the team gave me experiences and memories that I will cherish for a lifetime. Like when a tire on the bus flew off on the trip back to Trail and we were stranded on the highway for over seven hours. What a fun time. You can’t make this up! This community has been amazing to me, I have a lot of respect for the people of Merritt. However, I will not be returning next season. My father has been fighting blood cancer for a few years now, and as an only child I’m going back home to be around him. Thank you for embracing this twenty-year-old, and giving me my start. I will never forget you, this town, and this team. “For the final time as the voice of your Merritt Centennials, good night, and good-bye.” Mantar Bhandal is the play-by-play host of the Merritt Centennials broadcasts on Q101 radio.

Clippers Call Monday News Conference To Announce Future Of Team:

The Clippers are tight lipped on the details, but a news conference has been scheduled for Monday morning. The announcement is expected to provide a definitive answer on where the team will be playing next season and who its owner will be. Two weeks ago the current owners announced that the club needed new local ownership by the end of the month or the Clippers would likely be on the move to another Vancouver Island city. Coach Mike Vandekamp said Thursday if the team does stay in Nanaimo they will still need to gather more support from the community. "For sure, no matter what we're going to have to continue to work on this, creating a more stable financial environment for the team," Vandekamp said. "That's not necessarily just going to be solved in two weeks time. It's going to be something that the whole community needs to rally around." Team President David LeNeveu and Vandekamp have been working around the clock on a plan to keep the Clippers in Nanaimo since the March 16 announcement putting the team's fate in question. Vandekamp says that during that process they believe a wider interest has been sparked for people wanting to keep the club in the harbour city. "In order for the team to stay in Nanaimo we have to grow the group of supporters. Whether that be through private ownership, or going down a path of a non-profit approach...we need people from Nanaimo to own this team. It needs to become Nanaimo's team and no matter what that's what we've been trying to create here." There are still many moving pieces at play if the team is to stay in Nanaimo, according to the coach. Vandekamp said the team is looking forward to providing some clarity to their fans, sponsors, and the rest of the hockey community. He added the team is optimistic everything will come together favourably and will be able to operate in Nanaimo next season. Local junior hockey fans may be on pins and needles over the weekend but come Monday there will be a firm decision on the future of the Nanaimo Clippers.

Van Diemen Leaves Spruce Kings:

The Prince George Spruce Kings would like to announce a change with their hockey operations staff. Due to family reasons, Chad van Diemen is stepping down from his role as Head Coach. Van Diemen joined the Spruce Kings in April 2015 and guided a young rebuilding team to a 14-38-4-2 record during the 2015/16 season. During the 2016/17 season van Diemen guided the team to a much improved 25-27-4-2 record which included a spot in the BCHL playoffs. The team lost a tough 7 game series to the first place Wenatchee Wild in 6 games. “Chad did a great job as the head coach of our team. Chad was someone that I had targeted back in 2015 when we were seeking a new Head Coach. He brought a lot of passion, commitment and hockey knowledge to the position. Our organization and our players were fortunate to have Chad as their Head Coach and while it is tough to see him step away it is the right decision at this time. We are all very passionate about this organization but family certainly comes before hockey” said Spruce Kings General Manager Mike Hawes. In conjunction with van Diemen stepping away, the team is very pleased to announce the promotion of Associate Coach Adam Maglio to the position of Head Coach. “It was an absolute no brainer for me. As soon as I became aware of the situation with Chad I immediately knew who I would wanted to be our next Head Coach. Adam is an incredibly prepared, organized and committed person who is one the best young and progressive coaches in junior A hockey. He has shown me over the past two seasons that he is more than ready and capable to take the reins as our new Head Coach. I look forward to continuing the process of moving our organization forward with Adam” said Spruce Kings General Manager Mike Hawes. “I would like to thank the Prince George Spruce King’s organization for the opportunity to become the team’s next Head Coach. I’m extremely excited to continue working with a deeply dedicated staff of quality individuals who are committed to development and ultimately winning. We have a very solid base to build on from last season in which, I believe, we made tremendous steps and growth as a team. I’m thrilled to push forward next season in working towards our ultimate goal of bringing a championship to the City of Prince George” said Spruce Kings new Head Coach Adam Maglio.

Centennials Spring Camp A Success:

The Merritt Centennials held the first of two spring evaluation camps on the weekend, with close to 100 skaters on hand from across Canada and the United States. “There was some excellent talent,” said Cents’ head coach and GM Joe Martin. “The games were quite low-scoring, which was a testament to the good goaltending and strong defensive play.” The players were divided into five teams, and scrimmages were held Friday night, all day Saturday and on Sunday till about 3 p.m. “Like last year, we made things a bit more competitive, and had the teams competing to play in the championship game on Sunday afternoon,” said Martin. “We had a few prizes for the winners, like candy bars and so on. Everyone seemed to like the format.” The majority of the players in attendance at this weekend’s camp came from British Columbia. There were also some from Alberta, and even as far away as Newfoundland, Connecticut and Colorado. Many had Junior B experience, while others last played in major midget or elite prep school/hockey academy varsity programs. Several Merritt minor hockey products attended the camp, including goaltenders Holden King and Colton Macaulay, and forward Sunil Sahota. Other participants of interest were Josh Van Unen from Kamloops (the younger brother of Cents’ rookies Michael and Rylan Van Unen), Slade Desharnais from Fort St. James (son of former Centennial Guy Prince), Nolan Corrado (son of former Centennial Pat Corrado), Ezra Paddock (son of former Merritt RCMP officer Dave Paddock), Luke Recchi from Kamloops (nephew of NHL hockey legend Mark Recchi), and Michael Araki-Young from Vancouver (whose dad grew up in Merritt). Martin stated that several players from the weekend evaluation camp have been invited to the second spring camp in Abbotsford in June, and to the Cents’ main camp in late August. “We want to create a pretty competitive environment for these players, as well as for the 14 returnees from this past season’s Centennials team,” said the head coach.

Clippers To Form Society And Stay In Nanaimo:

The Clippers will be staying in Nanaimo as a community-owned hockey club. The B.C. Hockey League franchise announced Monday morning it will create the Nanaimo Clippers Hockey Society. “We’re obviously very happy and excited to announce that the Clippers are staying in Nanaimo,” said David LeNeveu, team president. Keeping the Clippers in the Harbour City involved a group of individuals contributing at least $50,000 each to allow the society to purchase a portion of the hockey club. There was sufficient commitment to satisfy the current ownership group. “The goal is to have the society own the entire club free and clear, so as funding comes in, a portion of those funds will be used to buy out the current ownership,” LeNeveu said. That timeline, he said, will depend on community support. As soon as the society is legally set up, a fundraising drive will begin, said Andrea Trepanier, a Clippers investor who will head up business operations. “Moving forward we’re going to need more community support and we’re going to need some corporate partners to step up and help us out in a bigger way,” she said. The Clippers will immediately increase their budget for the coming season to add more staff; Trepanier said it will take higher expenses to boost revenues. She noted that the Clippers are basing their society model on the experience of the Alberni Valley Bulldogs, who recently ran a similar campaign and raised $300,000. LeNeveu said now that the Clippers are locally owned, he believes the community and its hockey fans will be more supportive of the home team. “When the people of the community own the team, they’re going to support the team and they’re going to reach out to other members of the community to help support this team,” he said. “It’s the hardest decision that’s going to require the most work and the most people that we’re going to call on for help; however, this is what’s going to be successful in this community.”

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