BCHL News & Trades:
Barton Commits To Trail Smoke Eaters:
The Trail Smoke Eaters would like to announce the commitment of 1998-born defenseman, Seth Barton from Kelowna, BC. Barton has played the past two seasons for the Kelowna Rockets of the BC Major Midget League. Last season saw Barton contribute 38-points from the backend for a Rockets team that placed third in the BCMML. Head Coach, Cam Keith commented, “Seth will add size, a big shot from the blueline, and character to our team” Keith added “We are very excited to add a player of Seth’s caliber.” Barton has already had an opportunity to see some action in the BCHL, playing for the Nanaimo Clippers last year. The Smoke Eaters are excited to add another highly-recruited player out of the BC MML to their roster for the upcoming season. The entire organization would like to welcome Seth to the team and look forward to successful seasons to come.
Bulawka Commits To West Kelowna Warriors:
The West Kelowna Warriors Junior ‘A’ Hockey Club is pleased to announce the commitment of forward Max Bulawka (’01) for the 2017/18 season. Bulawka, 16, has spent the previous two seasons with the Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League (CSSHL). The Kelowna, BC native played with the Bantam Prep and Elite 15s squads during the 2015/16 season, compiling 20 goals and 55 points in just 32 games played between the two teams. The 6’0”, 170-pound forward spent the 2016/17 season with the Midget Prep team at POE where he finished second in team scoring with 13 goals and 31 points in 30 games played along with 16 penalty minutes. “Max is a great young talent,” expressed Warriors head coach and general manager Rylan Ferster, “For such a young player, he doesn’t panic with the puck and already has a solid 200-foot game, which should translate well into his first year of junior hockey.” The Warriors would like to welcome Max and his family to the Warriors and the community of West Kelowna.
Western Canada Cup Finished For Good:
This year's Western Canada Cup tournament in Penticton will be the last time the top junior hockey teams from the four Western provinces of Canada will face off. The BCHL commissioner John Grisdale has confirmed that the Western Canada Cup will not return next year or any years after that. "The WCC in Penticton was the last of that format," Grisdale said in an email. "At the AGM the BCHL board will approve going back to the Doyle Cup or some other approved final against the AJHL champion." The Vees first secured the WCC as hosts in October 2015, and hosted four teams from each of the Western provinces, including the Chilliwack Chiefs of the BCHL, the Brooks Bandits from the AJHL, the Battlefords North Stars from the SJHL and the Portage Terriers of the MJHL. The WCC was short lived, with just four years having passed since the Nanaimo Clippers hosted the inaugural tournament in 2013. Other hosts include Dauphin, Manitoba in 2014, Fort McMurray, Alberta in 2015 and Estevan, Saskatchewan in 2016. The Vees ended this year's WCC tournament in third place, but defeated the Chiefs for the second western berth in the RBC Cup nationals. The Vees have also won a WCC championship, after defeating the Portage Terriers 4-3 for the title in 2015. No reasons were provided as to why the tournament has been shut down.
Pirko Commits To Nanaimo:
The Nanaimo Clippers are very pleased to announce that Ben Pirko has committed to play for the Team for the 2017-2018 season. The 1999 born defenceman joins the Clippers after playing the 2016-2017 season for the Avon Old Farms Prep School of the Founders League. During this past season, the 6’2″ 170lb, Bethesda, Maryland native scored 1 goal and 12 assists for 13 points in 28 games played. Ben is also committed to play for the NCAA Divison 1 Union College Dutchmen of the ECAC. We would like to welcome Ben to the Clippers Family and look forward to seeing him on the ice with his new teammates at Training Camp in August.
Glasman & Werenka Commit To Smoke Eaters:
Trail Smoke Eaters supporters should brace themselves for an exciting season as Trail’s recruiting results continue to cash in. Trail committed highly-touted 18-year-old forward Levi Glasman and 17-year-old defenceman Olson Werenka from the Alberta Midget ranks. Glasman is a speedy six-foot-two, 170-pound forward who played for the Red Deer Optimist Chiefs last season in the Alberta AAA Midget Hockey League. Smoke Eater coach and GM Cam Keith scouted Glasman at the Macs AAA Midget Tournament in Calgary where the Red Deer native led Chiefs scorers with four goals and seven points in five games. “You can tell he has all the intangibles to be a pro-hockey player one day,” said Keith. “He shoots, thinks the game, has incredible speed, and willingness to get to areas you don’t see in Midget aged kids.” Glasman led the Optimist Chiefs in scoring with 15 goals and 23 assists, finishing fourth in Alberta league scoring, two points out of top spot. His size and play-making ability are reminiscent of another Red Deer native, Smoke Eaters forward Kale Howarth, and like Howarth did two years ago, Glasman impressed the Smoke Eaters coaching staff at their Spring Camp last month. “He came into spring camp and he looked like a veteran, and you could tell right away that this kid can play in the league and make an immediate impact,” said Keith. The addition of six-foot-three, 200 pound Werenka from the Calgary International Hockey Academy will also bring needed size and offensive prowess to the Smokies backend. “He’s a kid that had a really good year at the CSSHL last year, had 22 points in 28 games, and 123 pims (penalty minutes) so he brings an element of toughness to his game as well,” said Keith. After falling to the Vernon Vipers and their towering and intimidating defence in the playoffs, the Smokies coaching staff looks to beef up the backend in order to kick up the compete level. “We saw how Vernon’s defence were and how they controlled the play in the playoffs, so we knew we needed to get bigger and tougher on the back end, so he (Werenka) is a big piece for that.” Werenka also boasts an exceptional pedigree, as his father Brad Werenka played eight seasons of pro hockey with the Edmonton Oilers, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Calgary Flames and their affiliates in the American Hockey League. The addition of Glasman and former Cariboo Cougars forward Daine Dubois give the Smokies a bounty of talent up front with the expected return of Howarth, Ross Armour, Spencer McLean, Blaine Caton, Andre Ghantous, Ryan Moon, Ryan Murphy, Korbyn Chabot, and Braedon Tuck. Werenka’s commitment along with six-foot-three d-man Seth Barton earlier this week inject size and skill into a Smokies blueline that has only a couple spots up for grabs given the anticipated return of the Smoke Eater veterans. The big question remains in the crease. Linden Marshall’s return looks less likely, which leaves the Smokies searching for an experienced puck stopper to start and a younger backup. While Keith has a good idea of who will fill some of those positions, with camps still set for Whitehorse this month and the Main Camp in August, no position is guaranteed. “You never know who’s going to make your team, like Ryan Moon was never suppose to make it and he bumped out some kids that I had committed to,” said Keith. “So we still take the best 23 players who come into camp, it doesn’t matter if you played here last year, or you have a commitment … you still have to show up.”
Vees Fans Cheer Teams Return:
The Penticton Vees returned home Monday to a warm welcome. Approximately 30 fans waited at the South Okanagan Events Centre as the Vees returned from Cobourg, Ont. the host city of the Royal Bank Cup championship after losing 3-1 to the eventual national champ Cobourg Cougars. The fans wanted to let the team know they appreciated everything they did this season, which ended with 32 playoff games in 64 days. Longtime Vees fan Jon Race came out to say thank you for a great season that saw the Vees win the B.C. Hockey League’s Fred Page Cup. “It’s the least I can do,” said Race. Don Deacon, who became a Vees fan two years ago, said he and his wife wanted to “let them know even if they didn’t win we appreciate what they have done.” “They are still winners in our eyes,” said Deacon, who endured some nervous moments during the post-season, including watching Gabe Bast fire a shot off the post with 90 seconds left in their semifinal loss. Tyler Zanatta said the Vees are their home team. “It’s always good to support them,” he said. “I think they did pretty good. It was pretty disappointing the last game.”Murray Maxwell, a long time fan and Vees dressing room services, said he couldn’t be happier that they won the Fred Page Cup. He wished they could have returned as national champions. Vees captain Nicholas Jones said it was great coming home to the reception. “We’ve had great fan support all year. This just shows the type of fans we have here,” he said. “It’s been an amazing place to play.” Alternate captain Owen Sillinger said the welcome was special to come home to, even after the disappointing finish. Vees president, coach-general manager Fred Harbinson said the reception was awesome. “Whenever we go to other places, it really makes you appreciate what we have here,” he said. “I don’t care what level of hockey it is, what has been built here, I always talk about the culture. A big part of our culture is our fan base, the community itself and I think it shows that they are the type of fans that even if you don’t win the final game, if you play hard and you compete, you do your best, I think they are always there to support our guys.” Jones said the loss to Cobourg was disappointing, but they had a great year with many “win or die games.” “I felt like we left it all out there in the last game,” said Jones. “I felt like I couldn’t give anymore. It’s a good feeling knowing that. It’s difficult to still lose. We have a great group here. I am proud of every one of them.” “I thought we played our best game of the tournament,” said Sillinger. “Hats off to Cobourg. They were very good. I think that we were the best team honestly in the tournament. I think if we play any team in a seven game series, I’m confident.” Starting on Thursday until Sunday, the Vees are hosting their spring camp at the SOEC. There will be 160 players attending with the organization looking to identify players for next season and beyond. Harbinson said part of the camp is about educating players about the program as well as the BCHL. “Our guys have done a good job of identifying the right talent over the last few years, I’m expecting the same this year,” said Harbinson.
Chapman Commits To Spruce Kings:
The Prince George Spruce Kings are very happy to announce the commitment of Spencer Chapman to their roster for the 2017/2018 season. Spencer Chapman is a 1999 born forward who hails from Cochrane Alberta and played last season for the South East Athletic Club Midget AAA Tigers based in Medicine Hat Alberta. Spencer led the Tigers in Alberta Midget Hockey League scoring with 14 goals and 15 assists for 29 points in 34 games played. “Spencer is a player whose compete level is very high. He works hard every shift and has a very good skill set to go along with it. With those two strong attributes, Spencer will be a great fit for our organization. He’s also a great young man whose values are in line with what are required to be a Spruce King” said Spruce Kings General Manager Mike Hawes.
Ghirardosi Commits To Smoke Eaters:
The Trail Smoke Eaters added more local flavour to the mix with the commitment of Montrose native Tyler Ghirardosi. “It’s definitely exciting,” said Ghirardosi. “I had a lot of fun when I AP’d a couple games (with the Smoke Eaters). I’ve seen what everything’s about in the dressing room and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.” The six-foot-two 17-year-old forward brings skill and speed to the Smokies front end but also size and grit. Ghirardosi netted 14 goals and 31 points in an injury-plagued season for the Beaver Valley Nitehawks in the KIJHL, and added 76 minutes in penalties in just 29 games. “We’re extremely excited and honoured to have Tyler as part of our hockey organization,” said Smoke Eater coach and GM Cam Keith. “He possibly could have played for us this year, but I think it was beneficial for him to play in Beaver Valley for another year and earn that experience of being one of the go-to guys.” Ghirardosi shone in the playoffs for the Nitehawks netting 20 points in 20 games on their way to the KIJHL and Cyclone Taylor Cup titles, and in the Keystone Cup in April, he scored six goals and 10 points in six games, as BV lost the final 4-3 in overtime to the Wainwright Bisons. “We know that kids that come from Beaver Valley’s program, their habits and the way they play the game kind of suits the way that we play the game as well, and you saw that with Tyler when he got called up last year, he barely missed a beat,” said Keith. “He fit right in and I played him in top-line situations and he didn’t look out of place.” Ghirardosi played in six games as an AP for the Smoke Eaters and was particularly effective down the stretch for Trail when injury sidelined seven of their starting players. The J. L. Crowe student helped out with two assists in his six appearances, but his poise and effort showed the Smokies’ coach that Ghirardosi was more than ready to play in the BCHL. “He has size, a high hockey IQ, toughness and grit,” said Keith. “But his calmness and his ease of playing in situations where most kids his age would be nervous to play, nothing really affected him. As the game got more physical, Tyler excelled in those situations.” Ghirardosi joins Trail’s Jeremy Lucchini, Rossland’s Ross Armour, and Montrose’s Spencer McLean as part of the local contingent on the Smoke Eaters, an important element for Keith, a Nelson native, and the Smoke Eater staff. “He is a complete player, he really is, and when you tie that in with being a local kid it really puts the ribbon on the present,” added Keith. “We’re just really excited to have him come in and also seeing his family come in here and buy season’s tickets, it just adds to the excitement, and being happy that you can give a local kid this kind of opportunity.”
Former Penticton Vees All-Star Jost To Join Pats?
The Regina Pats are to be the host team for the 2018 Memorial Cup. As such, they have at least some hope of luring F Tyson Jost into their lineup for the 2017-18 WHL season. Jost played this season at the U of North Dakota, then finished up with the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, which had taken him 10th overall in the 2016 NHL draft. Jost, who turned 19 on March 14, had 35 points, including 16 goals, in 33 games at UND, then added one goal in six NHL games. He also played for Canada at the World Junior Championship, putting up a goal and three assists in seven games. The Pats acquired Jost’s rights from the Everett Silvertips, who had selected him with the seventh overall pick in the 2013 WHL bantam draft. However, judging from a quote from Joe Sakic, the Avalanche’s GM, it could be that Jost is ticketed for the NHL team next season.
Spruce Kings Name Evin New Associate Coach:
The Prince George Spruce Kings are very excited to announce the hiring of Alex Evin as the team’s new Associate Coach. The 30 year old Evin joins the Spruce Kings after having spent the last two seasons as the assistant coach for the Alberni Valley Bulldogs of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL). Prior to that Alex was the assistant coach for two seasons and head coach for one season with Selkirk College of the British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL). Originally from Castlegar, B.C., Alex played 198 regular season games over five seasons in the BCHL from 2003 to 2008 for the Powell River Kings, Williams Lake Timberwolves and Penticton Vees. He won the BCHL top goaltender award in 2007/2008 while playing for the BCHL champion Penticton Vees. After his stellar junior career, Alex earned a scholarship and played four seasons of NCAA division 1 hockey at Colgate University from 2008 to 2012. “Alex is a very impressive young man who will fit well with our core values and culture. Like our head coach Adam, Alex is a young coach who can relate well to our players. He was a tremendous goalie in our league who earned a scholarship with a great NCAA program. His experiences in our league and in NCAA hockey will be a huge benefit to our players. I am looking forward to working with Alex next season as we continue to move the Spruce Kings organization forward” said Spruce Kings General Manager Mike Hawes. “The Spruce Kings are a well respected and historic franchise in the British Columbia Hockey League. I am excited to work with the great people in the organization and build on the success of last season. I am thankful for the opportunity to work in the BCHL for the past two seasons and I am looking forward to a new chapter with the Spruce Kings organization” said Spruce Kings new Associate Coach Alex Evin. Alex Evin will be in Prince George in early August as he settles in and prepares for the team’s main training camp which will begin on Friday August 25th.