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:
Gatto Commits To Surrey Eagles:
The Surrey Eagles are proud to announce forward Connor Gatto has committed to the team for the upcoming B.C Hockey League season. The ’01’ forward from Jacksonville, Florida would take up the 6th and final import slot on the team, joining fellow Americans Owen Nolan, Wyatt Schlaht, Brett Bliss, Kenny Riddett, and Matt Connor. Gatto is another skilled, two-way centreman who battles hard up and down the rink. Gatto played in the National Collegiate Development Conference (NCDC) last season with the Islanders Hockey Club, and put up 14 goals and 40 points in 49 games. The 19 year old stands 5’7, and weighs 155 pounds. It’s an exciting leap for Gatto in his young junior hockey career, and the intrigue of moving up north played a role in his decision. “I’m very excited! I’ve never played in Canada before, so that’ll be pretty interesting. I’m ready to start playing in a new league with a great reputation.” Gatto also explained his rational for joining Surrey as his BCHL destination. “For starters, coach [Cam] Keith. He really likes me and I really enjoyed talking to him. I know the [BCHL] is great, and I knew I could play in a better league so I said why not, let’s give it a shot.” For Eagles fans who haven’t gotten the chance to see Connor play, he gave a little scouting report on himself as well. “I’m a smaller forward, and I proud myself on my skill and defense. I believe I can do everything for the team but understand I’ll need to prove it at the next level.” Welcome to the flock Connor!
CONTEST: Logan Terness Mask Design
Get your colouring pencils sharpened and your creative juices flowing for the Logan Terness mask design contest. Starting today, in a one of a kind contest, you will have a chance to put forward a design that could be used on Logan’s mask for the 2020/21 season. The BCHL’s Rookie of the Year wants the great fans of Trail who supported him and the team to have a say in how his mask will look this season. Click on the link for contest details, a mask template and how to submit your design!
Please have you mask design submitted no later than June 19th, 2020 The Smoke Eaters and Logan Terness are excited to see what you come up with to make this the best mask in the BCHL!
The Wenatchee Wild Experience:
The 4,300 seat Town Toyota Center in Wenatchee, Washington is home to a very passionate ice hockey fan base. I’ve been around hockey for quite a few years now and have been a fan as well as involved with teams at multiple junior hockey levels. But there’s something different and special about this fan base compared to that of a Western Hockey League or a Western States Hockey League crowd. From Facebook fan groups to the Twitter crowd and even that of the in-arena atmosphere, Wenatchee is different … but in a good way. Their fans bring the energy, especially with those cowbells of theirs and a good majority stay until after the final horn to congratulate their boys on a great effort, win or lose. On social media, the team is always posting about their sponsors, local organizations are seen at games including that of the Wenatchee Valley Skyhawks arena football team. Fans make consistent posts in the Wild fans Facebook group because of what they call Wild withdrawal. Wild nation is known for its cowbells and ability to make the building electric and intimidating to the opposing team. Their staff is always on the go, but always friendly in interactions and the same goes for the players not dressing to play that night as well. The Wenatchee Valley is home to a top-notch junior hockey franchise top to bottom. Everybody is always smiling, always welcoming, and you can bet once the puck drops that it won’t be quiet for a very long time until a little while after the game has ended.
Comparing Town Toyota Centre to local WHL buildings
Late this past season, I traveled to Kennewick to catch a Tri-City Americans WHL game. The Toyota Center felt similar to Wenatchee in both size and atmosphere. It’s much smaller than Spokane Arena where the Chiefs play and slightly smaller than that of accesso ShoWare Center in Kent where the Seattle Thunderbirds play. What reminded me most of Wenatchee was the clang of their cowbells all game long. The team I was rooting for won 3-1, but what happened after also reminded me of Wenatchee. The Americans’ fans sitting along the glass with me were friendly all game. That same weekend, I drove up Highway 97 from Ellensburg for Fred Page Cup playoff hockey in Wenatchee. The Vernon Vipers were in town for games one and two of their first-round playoff series against the Wild. I’ve always noticed a different atmosphere in Wenatchee than other places I’d been to. I’m not sure exactly how to describe it, I’d say maybe that of combining the atmosphere of a WSHL and WHL crowd, but it’s not even that. I decided to make a post in the Wild fans Facebook group and reach out to others for input. I’ve always been big into the sports scene on social media so I noticed early upon finding Wild fans, that it was different, but a ‘good different.’ I could be wrong, but it seems like in a majority of online groups, no matter the level or team, there’s a lot of complaining. I’ve seen complaints ranging from food and parking prices to officiating. With Wenatchee’s fan base both on social media or in-person, you really don’t see that. I noticed fans get rowdy after some controversial calls in a couple of games, but not as intense as I’ve seen in other leagues.
A special connection with the Wild
I was inspired to write this piece for a few main reasons. After the Wild were eliminated from the playoffs in game five, the fans stayed after to congratulate their distraught team on a season well done. Over the course of the off-season, I’ve seen fans post hype videos in the Wild fans group. These videos engaged fans and got people talking. I thought, “Okay this fan base is different than others and someone needs to say something.” I made a post in Wild fans and received great input from the group so I’ll share it here starting with Cherie LaViolette. She attended her first game with her boyfriend, knowing nothing about hockey. Cherie enjoyed it so much that she went to another game after that. Now she’s had season tickets on the glass for the last six seasons with her son and has even introduced her granddaughter to Wild nation. Donna Mitchell Dawson says she was hooked on the Wild in the team’s second season. Shortly after that, she became a billet parent for four seasons and has stayed in touch with her 11 billet sons ever since. In March she had to deal with the tragedy and heartbreak of losing one of her billet sons, Chad Staley, who passed away suddenly. She says that having each and every one of the boys stay with her while playing hockey in Wenatchee is a great blessing to her life. Former team chaplain Don Meyers also weighed in with his input. He explained how he had almost no hockey experience when he started with the Wild. In fact, he says that he often entertained the boys with his ignorant and naïve questions about the sport.
Dedication to developing good people and good hockey players
However, he came to learn something important out of everything he experienced during his time with the team. Don learned that hockey in a sense almost comes second in the Wild organization. He saw the organization built on qualities like character development, leadership, honesty, integrity, and even very tight relationships that developed. He says it was those things that developed the foundation everything else was built on. Barbara Claman Rogers started following the team during the 2017-18 season and the Wild made history that year. The team won the Fred Page Cup Championship and then the Doyle Cup against the Spruce Grove Saints, champions of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. She talks about how she kept telling herself that she better go to each game because it could be the last time for the season, but the Wild just kept winning. “It was so fun watching the players celebrate. I thought (Wild forward) Murphy Stratton was going to climb the glass he was so excited.” Without a doubt, there are aspects of the 17 other markets in the BCHL that make each unique and special in their own way – and this isn’t to take that away from them. But there’s something about the folks of Wild nation and the league’s only American-based franchise that bring a distinctive perspective to junior hockey.
West Kelowna-Truro Trade:
The West Kelowna Warriors Junior ‘A’ Hockey Club have dealt forward Holden Kodak to the Truro Bearcats(MJAHL) in exchange for future considerations. Kodak leaves the Warriors with 5 goals and 11 assists this season in 30 games played. “We would like to thank Holden for his time here in West Kelowna”, said Warriors Head Coach Simon Ferguson. “Holden is a talented player and we wish him nothing but the best with the Truro Bearcats”. The Warriors would like to wish Holden Kodak all the best moving forward with the Truro Bearcats(MJAHL).
Jacques Commits To Silverbacks:
The Salmon Arm Silverbacks are pleased to announce the commitment of 2002-born forward Philippe Jacques for the 2020-21 BCHL season. The 6-foot-3, 195 lb. forward spent last season at Stanstead College in southeast Quebec, one of the top Canadian prep schools in eastern Canada. He scored 30 goals and added 29 assists in 2019-20 for 59 points in 55 games, finishing third on the Spartans in scoring. “We are very excited to add Philippe to our roster,” Silverbacks General Manager Brooks Christensen said. “A bigger size forward who has a scoring touch is rare and we feel Philippe is going to be great addition to our forward lineup. We know our fans will enjoy watching him too.” Before attending Stanstead College, the Quebec City native played two seasons of midget hockey for the Séminaire St-François Blizzard, winning a Telus Cup silver medal in the 2017-18 season as national champion runners-up. He was also a finalist for student of the year in the Quebec midget AAA Hockey league in 2018-19 and was drafted by the Baie-Comeau Drakkar of the QMJHL in the seventh round in the summer of 2018. “I am thrilled to be joining the Silverbacks next season, with its dedicated coaching staff and outstanding program,” Jacques said. “I can’t wait to meet my new teammates and I am also very excited to become a part of the Salmon Arm community, from which I have heard nothing but good things. This will be my first stay in British Columbia and I am convinced that it will be a great experience in every way.”
BCHL approves several new initiatives and protocols after AGM (Part 2)
The BCHL held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) over a series of video conference calls over the last month and the league’s Board of Governors has approved several new initiatives and protocols for the 2020-21 season. In Part 1, we outlined changes to on-ice procedures and player safety. In Part 2, we will go over the remaining significant items that came out of the meeting.
The league officially welcomed the Cranbrook Bucks into the fold as its 18th franchise. The Bucks were announced as an expansion team for the coming season in October of 2019, but it became official as the league calendar flipped to the 2020-21 season on Jun. 1. “Our ownership is extremely excited to become part of the BCHL and we can’t wait to drop the puck on our inaugural season,” said Bucks Owner and President Nathan Lieuwen. “It has been clear throughout this whole process that the league reflects our values of prioritizing player development, academics and supporting the community. The City of Cranbrook and the East Kootenays as a whole can hardly wait to see the BCHL come to Western Financial Place.”
Digital Gamesheets by GameSheet Inc.
The BCHL will be moving to the use of digital gamesheets starting in 2020-21. Among other benefits, transitioning to the online platform will assist the Department of Player Safety in developing a database of information. Previously, paper gamesheets would be filled out by hand and scanned and sent to the league office after a game. The league will use the GameSheet Inc. platform after a successful trial at the 2019 BCHL Showcase Festival. “We are continuing to look at ways we can modernize our day-to-day operations and this certainly does that,” said BCHL Executive Director Steven Cocker. “We look forward to working with Gamesheets Inc. on this new initiative.”
The BCHL has extended its longstanding agreement with Bauer as the BCHL’s provider for equipment, jerseys, and apparel. “We are thrilled to continue our partnership with Bauer,” said Cocker. “The league has developed a great relationship with their team over the last few years and we look forward to building on that foundation.”
The BCHL has also extended its agreement with HockeyTech who facilitates the league’s stats and standings, hosts the website for the league and its teams and also streams all BCHL games through HockeyTV. “We are happy to have HockeyTech back on board going forward,” said BCHL Commissioner Chris Hebb. “They’ve provided us with excellent service over the years and fans can look forward to upgrades to the league and team websites as well as the BCHL’s HockeyTV page in the near future.”
Top 10 Trail Smoke Eaters Goals of 2019-20
The Trail Smoke Eaters finished as the third-highest scoring team in the BCHL. With three 20-goal scorers plus the league's MVP in Kent Johnson, they simply could not be stopped some nights.
The Nanaimo Clippers have shored up their defence core heading into the 2019-2020 season with the key acquisition of Michael Palandra from Brantford 99ers of the OJHL for future considerations. Michael Palandra played in the high-end Toronto Nationals program in the Greater Toronto Hockey League during his minor hockey days. He then played 100 games in the OJHL over three seasons putting up 53 points including 14 goals. He was a draft pick in both the OHL priority draft in 2017 and the USHL in 2019. He already has a commitment to the NCAA Division 1 program at RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology) Colin Birkas, defence coach of the Clippers, explained; “We have acquired a top d-man that immediately gives us a player who will play in all situations and brings us a ton of Jr A experience. He is a right-handed d-man with a good shot that will help our PP. With losing 5 d-man from last year’s strong d-core, this is a huge pick-up for the Clippers.” Darren Naylor, Head Coach and Vice-President of the Clippers, added; “This was a much-needed pick-up for us and a player I am familiar with after coaching him in the Boston Chowder Cup last spring. He was a player we wanted last season but weren’t able to make it happen. Michael is a smooth skating d-man who likes to jump into the rush contributing offensively. He has a high hockey IQ enabling him to read the layers and frequently intercepting passes breaking up other teams plays. I am very excited about this acquisition.”
West Kelowna-Notre Dame Trade:
The West Kelowna Warriors Junior ‘A’ Hockey Club have acquired forward Jarrett Penner from the Notre Dame Hounds in exchange for Ryan Upson. Penner, 19, comes to the Warriors after spending the past two seasons with the Notre Dame Hounds(SJHL). The Saskatoon, SK native recorded 19 goals and 18 assists in 53 games played with the Hounds. “We look forward to adding Jarrett to our roster”, stated Warriors Head Coach Simon Ferguson. “He is an impact player who will help us up front right away. He has a good skill set to go along with his large frame”. Ryan Upson leaves the Warriors with three goals and nine assists this season in 54 games played. “We would like to thank Ryan for his time here in West Kelowna”, said Warriors Head Coach Simon Ferguson. “Ryan is a great person and we wish him nothing but the best with Notre Dame”. The Warriors would like to welcome Jarrett and his family to the Warriors organization and the City of West Kelowna. The Warriors also would like to wish Ryan Upson all the best moving forward with the Notre Dame Hounds.