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:
Catching Up With The Backs EP. 3 – Shaw & Bennett
Salmon Arm Silverbacks broadcaster Nathan Kanter chats with Silverback forwards Logan Shaw and Drew Bennett over Zoom in the video below. The veterans share how the locker room came together over the course of last season, what was the difference in their first-round playoff sweep over Victoria, what they’re most looking forward to when next season rolls around, what they’ve been up to since COVID-19 hit and much more!
The Unique Chilliwack-Michigan Connection:
Throughout the Chilliwack Chiefs 30-year history, hundreds of players have played for NCAA teams, and a huge number have gone to schools based in the state of Michigan. They have also had players come from Michigan to join the Chiefs as well. It seems the Chiefs have more connections to Michigan over any other state. From players going to school and Michigan recruits coming to Chilliwack to Chiefs alumni playing in the Detroit Red Wings organization and other pro teams in Michigan. Even some of the Chiefs front office staff are fans of the Red Wings. Vice president Barry Douglas is a huge Wings fan and even saw them play at Joe Louis Arena before they moved to their new building.
Players From Michigan
Chilliwack has recruited some players from Michigan to come to play for the Chiefs.
- Necco Belanger 2005-06/2007-08, Marquette, MI
- Trevor Adams 2019-20, Muskegon, MI
- Zach Diamantoni 2013-14, Kalamazoo, MI
- Ben Israel 2012-13, Bloomfield Hills, MI
- Joey Larson 2019-present, Brighton, MI
- Stephan Balint 2004-06, Grosse Ile, MI
- Justin Hernandez 2006-07, Farmington Hills, MI
Players to Michigan-based NCAA Schools
Over the years several Chiefs players have gone to play for NCAA Divison I hockey in Michigan
- Bill Macgillivray 1990-91, Northern Michigan 1991-95
- Brad Hodgins 1993-96, Michigan State 1996-2000
- Shawn Horcoff 1995-96, Michigan State 1996-2000
- Bob Gassoff 1996-97, University of Michigan 1997-2001
- Brian Maloney 1997-99, Michigan State 1999-2003
- Kevin Estrada 1997-2001, Michigan State 2001-05
- Jeremy Jackson 1999-00, Michigan State 2000-01
- Jeff Tambellini 2000-02, University of Michigan 2002-05
- Zach Tarkir 2002-03, Northern Michigan 2003-07
- Blake Cosgrove 2002-04, Northern Michigan 2004-09
- Derek Janzen 2002-05/2006-07, Northern Michigan 2005-06/2007-09
- Matt Butcher 2003-06, Northern Michigan 2006-10
- Trevor Elias 2006-09, Western Michigan 2009-13
- Milos Gordic 2006-09, Michigan Tech 2009-13
- Derek Grant 2007-09, Michigan State 2009-11
- Mason Blacklock 2010-11, Michigan Tech 2015-18
- Malcolm Gould 2011-12, Michigan Tech 2012-16
- David Bondra 2011-12, Michigan State 2012-16
- Zach Diamantoni 2013-14, Northern Michigan 2014-18
- Jake Hand 2013-15, Lake Superior State 2015-18
- Darian Craighead 2015-16, Northern Michigan 2016-20
- Jake Smith 2015-17, Michigan State 2017-Present
- Joey Larson 2019-21, committed to Northern Michigan 2021-22
- Brett Rylance 2019-21, committed to Northern Michigan 2021-22
- Brett Willits 2019-20, committed to Northern Michigan 2020-21
Players to Michigan pro teams
Chilliwack has had many players play for pro teams in Michigan as well as the Detroit Red Wings organization.
- Dennis Cholowski 2014-16, drafted by Detroit in 2016, plays 2019-present
- Cooper Moore 2019-20, drafted by Detroit in 2019, committed to North Dakota 2020-21
- Luke Esposito 2012-13, played for Grand Rapid Griffins (AHL) 2017-18
- Zach Diamantoni 2013-14, plays for Kalamazoo Wings (ECHL) 2018-present
- Matt Bickley 2001-02, played for the Kalamazoo Wings (IHL) 2007-08
- Ryan Cyr 1999-2001, played for the Muskegon Fury (UHL) 2006-07
- Brandon Fleenor 1996-97/1997-99, played for the Motor City Mechanics (UHL) 2004-05
- Marco Emond 1997-98, played for the Flint Generals (UHL) 2004-05
- Matt Holmes 1995-96, played for Muskegon Fury (UHL) 2001-02
- John Craighead 1991-92, played for Detroit Vipers (IHL) 1994-96
Chilliwack has been a factory for players going to the state of Michigan, whether it’s college, minor pro, or the National Hockey League. It’s entirely likely more former Chiefs players will play in Michigan in the future. Maybe one day a school like Michigan Tech or the University of Michigan can repay the favor and have an exhibition game in Chilliwack against a U SPORTS school like the University of British Columbia or Trinity Western University. It could be a complete coincidence but there’s no doubt history shows a pipeline exists between “The Green Heart of the Province” and “The Motor City”.
Prince George-Penticton Trade:
The Penticton Vees Junior ‘A’ Hockey Club announced Monday the team has acquired forward Finlay Williams (’03) from the Prince George Spruce Kings in exchange for future considerations. Williams, 17, brings a plethora of experience to the Vees roster and also is a BC Hockey League champion, joining the Spruce Kings for the team’s run during the 2019 playoffs. The 6’0”, 190-pound forward got into 8 BCHL playoff games while suiting up for 6 Doyle Cup games and 6 games at the National Junior ‘A’ Championship, playing until the tournament’s final game. The North Vancouver, BC product joined the team full time for his 16-year-old season during the 2019/20 campaign, finishing with 11 goals and 20 assists for 31 points in 40 games played. Williams also has secured his future in collegiate hockey as he is committed to play with the University of Michigan Wolverines. In his time before Junior ‘A’, Williams played at the Burnaby Winter Club as part of the Canadian Sport School Hockey League (CSSHL) where he tallied 74 points in 61 games split between his Bantam Prep and Midget Prep campaigns. He also represented British Columbia at the Canada Winter Games in 2018, posting 5 goals and 4 assists for 9 points in 7 games for Team BC. “Fin is an extremely mature person and player who will have an immediate impact on our program” stated President, General Manager and Head Coach, Fred Harbinson. The Vees would like to welcome Fin and his family to the Vees organization, the City of Penticton as well as the South Okanagan.
West Kelowna Warriors In-Game Experience:
In the movie Field of Dreams, a farmer keeps hearing a voice in his head telling him, “if you build it, he will come”. This same voice probably whispers in every junior hockey team’s collective mind. The trick is not to just make them come, but to keep them coming. For the West Kelowna Warriors, the game experience is key in ensuring the long term success of the franchise. For the junior hockey franchise, there are two components to keeping a solid fan base. The on-ice product and no less important, the game experience. Generally, it is difficult for a franchise to have a great on-ice product year after year. This is especially true in junior hockey. The player-team relationship lasts, at most, 4 years. Junior hockey is not only a transitional spot for players but for general managers, coaches, and other talented members of the front office. A great game experience will help smooth out those periods when the team is transitioning from bad to good to great (and, except for a few exceptions, every team will). Watching a hockey game is the easy part. The hoops you have to jump through to get to your seat, the extracurricular stimulus occurring while you’re watching and the simple act of getting out of the arena all have a lasting impact on the casual fan’s positive or negative impressions. Whether you are going to a movie, the theater, or any activity that requires you to ultimately interact with a lot of people, there are certain barriers you think through to decide whether the effort is worth the reward.
- Ease and availability of parking
- Purchasing a ticket
- In-game entertainment
For the West Kelowna Warriors, minimizing these barriers will have a positive impact on developing a solid, committed fan base.
Parking at Royal LePage Place is not a problem. It’s free and available in the parking lot to the east, on the roadways surrounding the arena, and in the paved parking lot down by the high school. All parking is within walking distance to the facility and for the most part, easy to navigate. If the arena is full though, you may end up with a bit of a walk. The one shortcoming is that there is not enough parking available for people with disabilities.
Purchasing a ticket
There are a variety of ways to purchase a ticket for the game. For the committed fan, the most cost-effective and easiest way is to buy a season ticket. This option may not for everyone. Game packs are also available that may be more affordable. There are restaurants that will include game tickets as part of a meal promotion. Single-game tickets can be purchased online. If you have fundamental computer knowledge, this is absolutely the best way to buy a single game ticket. Some franchises add a service charge for this but the Warriors do not. Lastly, you can purchase a ticket at the arena. You can go to the Warriors office before the game and buy them or you can queue up at one of the two ticket windows at game time. The ticket window option can be a bit frustrating just before game time.
There are really two parts to this. The ability to purchase, and the food, the price, and the service. The ability to purchase will always be a problem at this location. The design is awful. The building was built in 2007 and it probably felt 20 years old the day it opened. This was not a problem the franchise created but will suffer because of it. The team gave up the concession rights in 2016 but got them back a year later. Having a bad set up and not having the ability to manage the impacts of a bad set up are roadblocks for the team to manage this part of the experience. The Warriors have done some things to try and minimize the impact. They have beer and wine sales in two locations, and pizza, popcorn, and other small snacks in the southeast corner. What they are missing is a coffee bar, because right now you have to queue up in the concession line if you want just a coffee or specialty beverage. The food, the price, and the service are fine, I guess. It is concession food and for the most part, it’s fairly good and the price is comparable to other venues in the BCHL. The staff does the best they can, working with long lines and a tight kitchen. However, if the Warriors begin to attract in excess of 1,000 people per game, this will become a real problem.
This is a matter of personal preference. There is too much music for some, not enough for others. The music is too loud, not loud enough. It’s not traditional enough, it’s not more up to date. For the most part, it is on par with most arenas. The game host is good. Very animated, sometimes a bit too sarcastic but works effectively to keep the crowd in the game. For a few months last season, there were no 50/50 tickets being sold. The absence of a 50/50 draw was a glaring issue and thankfully the Warriors brought it back later in the season. The sound system is good. The pregame activities are above average. The mascot is effective and readily available for younger fans to interact with. The between period entertainment is pretty standard fare. The first period entertainment is hit and miss and the frisbee toss has been a long-time tradition for the second period intermission. The biggest thing missing is video. In this day and age, the absence of that one component will always be a limiting factor of the in-game experience in this facility.
What does it all mean?
With everything else being relatively equal to other facilities, the problems with the concession and not having a video board brings does make the casual fan think twice before heading out to the game, especially if the team is in transition. The addition of a video board, a little more work on the between period entertainment, and improvements to the concession experience are a big step in improving the in-game experience. In its present form, “it has been built; they came but they probably won’t stay” when the team is struggling. In Trail, the new owners worked with the city to make changes to enhance the in-game experience and in four years they have doubled attendance from 1,000 to 2,000 per game. No doubt the team has been much better over that time but the enhancement of the game experience has clearly helped. The success of a team will always be a big part in determining success at the box office but with a few changes, the in-game experience can help to smooth out the parts during a season when the team is struggling.