Friday, July 12, 2019

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:

Grimwood Suing Warriors:

Geoff Grimwood claims he was fired by West Kelowna Warriors owner Kim Dobranski so Dobranski could take control of hockey operations and other duties. The claim is part of a notice of claim filed by Grimwood in Kelowna Provincial Court earlier this week. He also claims he was let go so Dobranski could "avoid the real possibility of having to increase the claimant's compensation under the terms of the contract, and for which induced the claimant into returning to the West Kelowna Warriors after being terminated in August 2018." The statements are part of a claim in which Grimwood is seeking $29,166 plus interest for breach of contract. Grimwood claims the contract he signed in September provides for an immediate lump sum payment of an amount necessary to ensure his salary met the BCHL's minimum standard of $50,000 if he were terminated. He said the team failed to, or refused to make the payment. He further claims the contract was breached because the club did not obtain approval from the league as per the agreement. The notice indicates Grimwood was terminated for misconduct, however, he claims there was a failure to conduct any investigation, a proper investigation, or complete an investigation into the alleged misconduct. The suit further claims the club failed to "discharge their obligation of good faith and fair dealing in dismissing (Grimwood) in a callous and insensitive manner, and specifically failed to act in the candid, reasonable, honest and forthright manner that was a common expectation of the parties at the outset of the employment relationship." His firing ended a brief and tumultuous relationship between Grimwood and Dobranski, who assumed ownership in August. Grimwood was fired from his position as interim head coach and GM, then rehired on the eve of the regular season after players boycotted practice. The Warriors have yet to officially respond to the suit. None of the statements and claims in the suit has been proven in court.

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Salmon Arm Silverbacks Sign Garozzo:

The Salmon Arm Silverbacks are pleased to announce the signing of 2000-born forward Domenic Garozzo for the 2019-20 BCHL season. The dynamic forward exploded for 31 goals in just 17 games this past season while leading the Gloucester Catholic High School Rams to a non-public state semifinal appearance in New Jersey. Garozzo, who wore the ‘C’ for the Rams, added nine assists for a total of 40 points in his final year of high school hockey. His 31 goals in 2018-19 broke a single-season school record previously held by NHL all-star Johnny Gaudreau, who scored 30 for the Rams in 2009. “Dom possesses a very impressive offensive skill set, excellent offensive instincts and has speed to burn,” Silverbacks head coach and general manager Scott Atkinson said. “The recruitment process also revealed a person and family of high integrity and character.  We feel Dom will make an immediate impact on the ice and in the community.  Everyone in our organization is extremely excited about this signing.” The 18-year-old forward also tallied 18 goals and 13 assists in 16 games playing for Virtua Hockey’s U-18 program in the Atlantic Youth Hockey League (AYHL) during the 2018-19 season. His 31 points ranked sixth among all U-18 AYHL players, while his 18 goals were tied for the third-most. “I’m very excited to be a part of the Silverbacks family,” Garozzo said. “It’s an honour to play in the BCHL. As an American player, the BCHL is one of the best junior hockey leagues you can play in.” The Sewell, N.J. native committed to St. Lawrence University this past January, who compete in the ECAC Hockey conference of the NCAA.

Two More Players Will Help Vees Take Wing:

Already set in goal, on defence and at centre, Fred Harbinson just needs to add a few wingers to fill out the 2019-20 Penticton Vees roster. With training camp still two months away and another three weeks from there before the B.C. Hockey League regular season commences, the Vees president, GM and head coach is in no rush. “We’re going to be patient with it,” said Harbinson, who will be attending the 2019 NHL Entry Draft this Friday and Saturday in Vancouver. “We’ll have some options.” The Vees are loaded down the middle with returnee David Silye, veteran acquisitions Jay O’Brien and Colton Kalezic, and prized young recruit Danny Weight. “We’ve got 11 forwards committed and we really like the entire group,” said Harbinson. “We want to get to 13 and it’s more on the wing where we need to add. We’re in a real good spot down the middle.” Lukas Sillinger, Jack Barnes and Jackson Niedermayer are the returning wingers, Drew Elser could also be back, Alex DiPaolo was acquired in a trade from Coquitlam and Tristan Amonte and Liam Malmquist are among the top young recruits. The Vees figure to add a winger in the impending trade for 20-year-old centre Cassidy Bowes. Harbinson said the deal should get done within the next few days. “We’ll get Cassidy to a good spot for (this season),” said Harbinson. “We’re just trying to get the right piece in return.” Excluding Bowes, the Vees still have seven quality 20-year-olds and will have to get down to six before the season starts. So, another winger could be reaped in a deal for the odd man out among the 20-year-olds. “There are a lot of ways we can do it,” said Harbinson. “We’ll take our time, make sure we find the right fit.” Harbinson said he anticipates the BCHL schedule being released shortly after the NHL draft. The regular season starts Sept. 6, with the coach confirming the Vees will be on the road for the first few weeks as per usual. He said the home opener will be on the Sept. 27-28 weekend. The Vees already finalized their pre-season slate of games. Penticton visits West Kelowna on Aug. 21 and Merritt Aug. 23, then host Merritt Aug. 24 and West Kelowna Aug. 28 at the South Okanagan Events Centre.

Centennials Name Sweet-Coulter New Assistant Coach:

The Merritt Centennials are proud to announce that they’ve found the person who will be sharing the bench with Head Coach Barry Wolff. Derek Sweet-Coulter has been named Assistant Coach and Assistant GM for the 2019-20 season. Sweet-Coulter was formerly the Head Coach and GM of the Red Lake Miners of the SIJHL for the past 4 seasons. Derek had a record year, as he was awarded Coach of the Year in the SIJHL, as well as getting recognized with an honourable mention for the CJHL’s Coach of the Year for his efforts this past season. Behind the bench last season, with the Miners, he went 38-15-3 leading his team to a 2nd place finish. The season concluded in the SIJHL  Bill Salonen Cup Finals, falling to the Thunder Bay North Stars. Sweet-Coulter’s coaching experience has also included working on the coaching staff for Team Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge as an assistant coach in 2017 and 2018, winning gold and bronze medals respectively. Head Coach and General Manager Barry Wolff says Sweet-Coulter will bring a wealth of experience to the organization. “We would like to thank all the applicants that applied for the assistant coach position, we had several qualified coaches apply. Derek’s professionalism, passion, and experience was something that we felt would be a strong asset to our assistant coach and assistant general manager position.” The Centennials organization would like to welcome Derek and his family to the Nicola Valley, and look forward to his contributions this coming season.

Stewart Commits To Spruce Kings:

The Prince George Spruce Kings are pleased to announce the commitment of Forward Mack Stewart (01) from the Calgary Royals of the Alberta Midget Hockey League. Stewart, a dual citizen born in Villach, Austria is a 6’0”, 170 pound left shot forward. In 2018/2019, he put up 13 goals and 18 assists in 31 games played.

Summer With The Smokies: Chase Dafoe

Coming from the Okanagan Rockets of the BC Major Midget League, forward Chase Dafoe brings a big body that can skate well and will not shy down from physical play. The 6’3”, 190-pound left-shot also has plenty of offensive flare, finishing 11th in scoring in the Major Midget League, compiling 19 goals and 30 assists for 49 points while captaining a Rockets team that fell short of their ultimate goal, bowing out in the opening round of the playoffs to the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds. Although the end result wasn’t what Dafoe and his teammates were looking for, it was a season in which he will never forget, “It was a great experience being named as captain as a 16-year-old with the majority of my teammates as older guys. I definitely learnt a lot of lessons from them and how to be a leader to some of the older and younger guys on our team and really helped prepare me for the next level.” “It wasn’t the result we wanted but I’d say we had a successful season, playing on a line with Colby (Elmer) was a lot of fun and we were able to put up some pretty good numbers as well as having Corey (McCann) out there playing well so it was definitely a fun year and one to remember.” Elmer and McCann each committed to the team at the same time as Dafoe, who is excited to have a pair of his teammates and close friends join him in Junior hockey, “We all went down on the first recruiting trip together and we all loved Trail the second we got there. Having those two guys come to Trail and join the team as well made me feel better about my decision and makes the transition a bit easier.” “I’ve known Corey for about five or six years now and we have played together for a long time, going back to our time at the Okanagan Hockey Academy and Colby and I played a lot of the season on a line together and had a lot of fun times so it’s going to be really easy coming in with those guys.” The transition from Major Midget to Junior will be helped by Dafoe getting eight games in with the Smokies a year ago and providing two goals in that process. Knowing the landscape of the locker room and some of the players from last year’s team is a valuable asset, “Coming into this season, it almost feels like I’m a second-year guy even though I was only in Trail for about three weeks. Getting to know the guys as well as the coaches and the staff makes for an easy transition and having a great billet family in Paul & Stacey Mailey makes it that much easier as well.” Dafoe made a few trips to Trail last season and got into a game at the Trail Memorial Centre, where he tallied his second career goal and can’t get enough of the city, “One of the things I love about Trail is how involved of a city it is. Everyone in town knows you’re a Smoke Eater and it will be pretty cool having everyone know who you are and I’m really looking forward to it.” Although the season doesn’t begin for another three months, Dafoe is in a full swing of training and getting on the ice to work on his game, “I took a week off after our season was finished but it didn’t take long for me to miss getting on the ice and working out so I’m skating twice a week with a group of guys and we work out five times a week as well. Our trainer, Ryan Aynsley, went and played at the University of Northern Michigan and knows what it takes to get players to that next level.” Dafoe and the rest of the Smoke Eaters will be in Trail for the team’s Main Camp at the end of August.

Penticton-Flin Flon-Whitecourt Trade:

The Penticton Vees announced today they have acquired 2000-born forward Vincent Nardone from the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s Flin Flon Bombers in a three-team deal that sees 1999-born forward Cassidy Bowes moved to the AJHL’s Whitecourt Wolverines. Nardone, from Rosemère, Quebec, was in his first season of junior hockey with the Bombers last season, scoring 17 goals and adding 22 assists in 56 games. His 39 points tied for third amongst SJHL rookies. The 5’10’’ forward enjoyed a 10-game point streak from October 11 to November 10, and a nine-game streak from December 31 to January 19. He comes to Penticton with a commitment to the University of Nebraska-Omaha, where he will be team-mates with Vees alum Taylor Ward and current Vees forward Lukas Sillinger. Bowes recorded seven goals and 17 assists last season and was a member of the 2017 Fred Page Cup championship. The Vees would like to thank him for his contributions and wish him he best moving forward. Nardone will arrive in Penticton for training camp in mid-August.

Pfoh Commits To Spruce Kings:

The Prince George Spruce Kings are pleased to announce the commitment of Forward Brett Pfoh (02) from Burnaby Winter Club Midget Prep. Pfoh, a 5’9”, 155 pound native of Port Moody, British Columbia, put up 19 goals and 18 assists in 34 games last season in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League. Brett is set to join BWC teammates Carter Cochrane and Fin Williams on the Spruce Kings this year.

Colella Commits To Trail:

The Trail Smoke Eaters Junior ‘A’ Hockey Club is pleased to announce forward Michael Colella (’99) has committed to the team for the 2019/20 season. Colella, 20, spent parts of the 2018/19 season with three different teams in the United States Hockey League after joining from the P.A.L Junior Islanders, where he amassed 10 goals and 21 points in just 10 games. The 5’7”, 161-pound winger started with the Omaha Lancers before being moved after 10 games played to the Tri-City Storm, eventually landing with the Lincoln Stars to complete his season. Colella tallied 9 goals and 14 assists for 23 points in 54 total games between the three squads. Before his time in Junior ‘A’ hockey, the Turnersville, New Jersey product played in the Atlantic Youth Hockey League (AYHL) as well as the United States High School League based out of New Jersey, suiting up for the Bishop Eustace Prep squad. In his final season in the AYHL with the Virtua Hockey U-18 team, Colella finished tied for 15th in league scoring with 9 goals and 22 points which was also tied for the lead in scoring amongst his team. Colella is set to attend Colorado College in the fall of 2020. “Mike Colella is going to be a great addition for our hockey team,” commented Smoke Eaters General Manager and Head Coach Jeff Tambellini, “He is a dynamic scoring winger who is coming off a high production season in the USHL. Mike has a relentless style of play and his enthusiasm for the game can be seen every time you watch him play.” “We really like that we can add another 20-year-old to our lineup at this point in the off-season to complement our current roster,” Tambellini continued, “We’re looking forward to developing Mike’s game and preparing him to transition to Colorado College in 2020-21.” The Smoke Eaters would like to welcome Michael and his family to the City of Trail and the Smoke Eaters organization. Colella and the rest of the Smoke Eaters will be in Trail for the team’s Main Camp at the end of August

Warriors Battle Over Ice Time:

There's a potential battle brewing in West Kelowna over ice time at Royal LePage Place. Or, more specifically, game times. Both the City of West Kelowna and West Kelowna Minor Hockey were taken by surprise Tuesday when the BC Hockey League schedule was released showing Saturday game times for West Kelowna Warriors games had been moved back an hour from its traditional 7 p.m. start to 6 p.m. The problem, according to parks and recreation manager Bob Kusch is the ice schedule was finalized a few months ago with Warrior start times at 7 p.m. "We are now evaluating the impact of that change," said Kusch, who says he briefed the mayor on the situation Wednesday morning. Warriors owner Kim Dobranski told Castanet News Tuesday he needed the change in start times in order to make Saturday games more fan-friendly. He said it means game would end earlier, which he hopes would attract more families and young fans to the games. Across the league, Dobranski says there is a consistent increase in those groups with teams that have the earlier Saturday start times. A change could attract more youngsters, but could also hurt those same young fans who play in the West Kelowna Minor Hockey system. "Minor hockey are probably the ones that are going to have the greatest impact," said Kusch. "We are going to be working with minor hockey and the Warriors to try and sort this out over the next few weeks." Kusch admitted there have been discussions between the city and the Warriors about 6 p.m. Saturday starts. "Because of the impact on minor hockey and some other issues, we expressed our preference to stay at 7 p.m. "However, Mr. Dobranski has decided 6 p.m. is a better start time and that's why the schedule was released with the 6 p.m. start time." West Kelowna Minor Hockey was not available to respond prior to publication of this story.

McLean Commits To Prince George Spruce Kings:

The Prince George Spruce Kings are pleased to announce the commitment of Forward Jake McLean (02) from the Vancouver North West Hawks of the BC Major Midget League. McLean, a 6’0”, 170 pound native of North Vancouver, British Columbia, scored 19 goals last season and added 29 assists in 40 games in the BCMML. He also played one game as a Spruce Kings AP.

Alberni Valley-Estevan Trade:

The Alberni Valley Bulldogs have transferred the CJHL playing rights to Kelvin Hair(00)(D) to the Estevan Bruins of the SJHL in exchange for future considerations

Langley-Brantford Trade:

The Langley Rivermen have acquired the CJHL playing rights to Jonathan Stein(99)(F) from the Brantford 99ers of the OJHL in exchange for future considerations 

Grizzlies Newcomer Manikis Plays A Complete Game:

Kosta Manikis has his mind set on college hockey and the pros. So when the Richmond Hill, Ont., native got a chance to come to a junior team that had one NHL draft pick on it last season and just produced three more, he said, where do I sign? So the 17-year-old Manikis will pack his bags in mid-August and head west to the Victoria Grizzlies where he hopes to develop his game in what he considers the best Junior A league in the country. “I talked to a lot of people and they said if you want to progress and develop for the next level, the B.C. Hockey League is the place to be and Victoria is such a class organization from top to bottom that you have to jump at this chance,” said the six-foot-one, 185-pound centre, who spent last season in the Ontario Junior A Hockey League with the Stouffville Spirit and Toronto Jr. Canadiens. “I visited Victoria last March during the playoffs and the whole thing is run like a pro team, with on- and off-ice training and the way they treat the players and stuff, so I’m really excited about coming out west and having a really good year.” It didn’t hurt that he has the same advisor as the most talked-about Grizzlie over the past couple of seasons. “I have the same advisor as [first-round NHL draft pick] Alex Newhook and both of the them highly recommended Victoria and said it’s a beautiful city to play in,” added Manikis. Manikis, who’ll turn 18 in August, is coming off a strong season in Ontario. He scored 18 goals and 29 assists in 48 games split between Souffville and the Jr. Canadiens. He also brings a physical presence to the Grizzlies having racked up 104 penalty minutes in the regular season and another 14 in five playoff games. “I was traded from Stouffville to Toronto at the [trade] deadline because Stouffville wasn’t having a very good season and Toronto was looking to secure a playoff spot, which we did,” Manikis said. “I think I bring a strong physical game up the middle and can create offence as well.” Having already secured the services of big, physical defenceman Jayden Struble, who was selected in the second round of the NHL draft by the Montreal Canadiens last weekend, Grizzlies GM and head coach Craig Didmon wanted to add some grit up front as well, to compliment talented forwards such as veterans Marty Westhaver and Kyle McGrath and newcomers Brendan Bowie, Chase McInnis and Cody Monds. “Kosta is a pure centreman who plays a complete game,” said Didmon, who was in Vancouver over the weekend to see out-going Grizzlies Newhook (Colorado), Alex Campbell (Nashville) and Carter Berger (Florida), as well as Struble have their names announced at Rogers Arena. “I’ll look to him to play like a veteran at both ends of the ice and he’s a real hard-nosed player.” Manikis also has an NCAA scholarship secured, as he’s expected to join Clarkson University in the fall of 2020, following in the footsteps of BCHL rookie of the year Campbell, who hails from Montreal. “I actually called Alex to congratulate him on being drafted and he had nothing but great things to say about his time in Victoria,” Manikis said. “He also said the winters are way better than out east, so I can’t wait for that.”

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