Sunday, August 2, 2015

BCHL News & Trades:

Here's a look around the league on what some of the other teams have been up to this off season regarding trades, player announcements and other team news.

I found these press releases off team websites, other hockey blogs or online.

BCHL News & Trades:

Rauser Commits To Kings:

The Powell River Kings are happy to announce the commitment of 97-born forward Gavin Rauser for the upcoming 2015/2016 season. The 18 year old winger suited up for the VIJHL’s Campbell River Storm last season, finishing 8th in team scoring with 18 goals and 28 assists from 40 regular season games. Rauser was also a regular call up as an affiliate for the Kings last season, tallying an assist in 7 games. “As a call up last year, it was pretty easy to see first hand how great the organization is” says Rauser on the commitment. “I knew how the systems were and it just seems like the right opportunity for me. Coming up the first few times was pretty nerve-wracking, but it get better the longer the season went on.” Rauser’s energy and tenacity was crucial not only for the Kings during his 7-game stint, but also for the Storm as he helped Campbell River setup for the Junior B triple crown last year. Despite limited playoff action due to injury, the local product was a key part of the Storm’s success. “It doesn’t happen often, but we had a great group last year from the top down with Lee (Stone) as coach and GM. That was our goal at the beginning of the season and we were fortunate to be able to see it out.” “Anyone who saw Gavin play with us last season knows that his work ethic is second to none” says Kings Head Coach and GM Kent Lewis. “He hunts down loose pucks, he’s great on the fore-check, gets back in his own zone quickly…he plays a solid high-tempo game. Gavin was a great spark for us down the stretch drive when we were pretty short with injuries.” For Rauser, he prides himself on a 200-foot game. “I feel I contribute at both ends, but my biggest asset that I can provide for the Kings is my grittiness and physicality” says Rauser. “I’m not the biggest guy on the ice, but every time I’m out there I want to finish my check and give the boys on the bench some energy.” The 5’10, 185 product of Campbell River is gearing up for the coming season, now that his Junior hockey future is set. “I’ll be training with my brother who has a scholarship to Oklahoma next year, so just hitting the gym and preparing for next season. I need to get my speed up with the rest of the players, so I’m working on that” says Rauser. “Like a lot of players who come into the BCHL, Gavin will need to work on his speed and develop his skill set while he’s here” adds Lewis. “He needs to take the energy that we saw in a handful of games last year, and bring it for 58 games and playoffs." The Kings will hold their Main Camp in Powell River during August, before setting off to Vancouver Island for a handful of exhibition contests before beginning the regular season in early September.

Surrey-Brooks Trade:

The Surrey Eagles have made their first transaction of the summer and it is a big one. The Eagles have acquired Langley native Kyle Star from the Brooks Bandits of the AJHL. Star, 20, joins the Eagles after two full seasons in the AJHL where he amassed 29 goals, and 43 assists, good for 72 points, along with 176 pims. Star was a part of the Bandits run to the Championship series last year where they eventually fell short to AJHL League Champions Spruce Grove Saints. Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations, Blaine Neufeld, had many great things to say about the acquisition of Star. “Kyle is a player that we had tagged as an elite Junior player for two years now. We finally got the right opportunity to acquire him and we are happy we can bring him home to play his final year of Junior Hockey.” Neufeld and his Eagles’ staff have high hopes for Star in his production for his final year of Junior Hockey. “We thought that Kyle was always best suited for the BCHL. He put up a good number of points in the AJHL but his skill set and ability to make plays is going to put him in a position to gain a Division 1 scholarship and move on to the next level.” Star had played with the Abbotsford Pilots of the PIJHL and will have the opportunity make an impact on an Eagles team that is making very big strides towards getting back on top of the BCHL. “We are committed to winning and we have proven that over the course of the summer months,” added the Head Coach, “Each day we make yet another positive step towards building a wininng team this year and with the number of recruits we have yet to announce I know we are going to be the team in the Mainland Division that nobody will want to play.” Star will suit up with the rest of his new teammates and Surrey Eagles’ hopefuls at the 2015/16 Main Camp starting on August 24th.

Trail-Green Bay Trade:

The Trail Smoke Eaters are pleased to announce the acquisition of Jake Kauppila (95, Gurnee, IL) from the Green Bay Gamblers for the 2015/16 British Columbia Hockey League season. Kauppila rejoins the Smokies after being moved to Alberni for playoff experience two years ago. A Michigan Tech University committed player, Jake played last season for the Green Bay Gamblers in the USHL. “Jake is an intense competitor that will fill the holes that were left with our graduating forwards. Jake will bring leadership and valuable experience he’s gained throughout his junior hockey career,” said Smoke Eaters Head Coach Nick Deschenes.

Grizzlies Sign New Arena Deal:

The Victoria Grizzlies secured their future for the next five seasons after reaching a lease agreement with West Shore Parks and Recreation to play at The Q Centre. There was speculation last month that a stalemate in negotiations could spell the end of the Grizzlies in Colwood, but that's all put to rest with Wednesday's announcement. The two sides agreed not to disclose the financial terms of the lease. "As was made known during the process, it was not easy to find a solution that both sides could work with going forward, and I think both sides would agree this is not precisely what they were after," said Grizzlies President John Wilson in a statement on the team's Facebook page. "But we are done, we have agreed, and it's time to play hockey and let the players and coaches provide more great family entertainment." Victoria is now secure in its home rink through the 2019-20 season.

Brooks Bandits Travelling To Penticton For Exhibition Games:

The Brooks Bandits of the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) will travel to Penticton, British Columbia for two inter-provincial pre-season games against the Penticton Vees, the team announced today. The games will be the first time the Bandits and Vees have played against each other since the two franchises competed in the final edition of the Doyle Cup in 2012. The first game will take place at the South Okanagan Events Centre on Friday, September 4th at 7:00 PM, with the rematch the following night, Saturday, September 5th, at 6:00 PM, also at the SOEC. The two added games bring the Bandits’ total pre-season schedule to six games. Brooks will play at the Okotoks Oilers’ annual exhibition tournament on August 27th, 28th, and 29th, taking on the Drumheller Dragons, Calgary Mustangs, and Oilers. Following the two games in Penticton, the Bandits will return home to host Okotoks in their final preseason game at the Centennial Regional Arena on Tuesday, September 8th at 7:00 PM.

Warriors Make Two Big Off Season Trades:

The West Kelowna Warriors have gotten older in goal, and bigger on the back-end in a pair of deals this past week. The Warriors acquired Goaltender Daniel Mannella (95) from the Oakville Blades of the OJHL in exchange for Goaltender Scott Patton (96). Mannella, who played the last 3 seasons in the OJHL, finished 2014/2015 with a 17-14-1 record, posting a 2.08 GAA and a .927 Sv%. Those numbers helped the soon to be 20 year old finish 2nd in League GAA and SV%, as the Blades finished with a 31-19-2-2 record. In 122 games, Mannella has a 53-53-1 record, with a 2.82 GAA and a .910 SV%. "I'm excited to be joining a quality organization like West Kelowna. I feel that I'm ready to take the next step and play at the highest Jr level possible." Mannella said recently, "I've also heard lots of positive remarks about living in Kelowna and look forward to joining the community and helping the team win hockey games." Patton was set to enter his 2nd year with the Warriors, after appearing in 20 games in 2014/2015, finishing with a 3.65 GAA and .885 SV%. The Cambridge, ON native finished with a 10-2-0-5 record. "We would like to thank Scott Patton for his time with the Warriors," said GM/Head Coach Rylan Ferster, "he is a great kid and stepped up throughout the season with great efforts between the pipes. He always gave us a chance to win and we wish him the best of luck." The Warriors also acquired Defenseman Tyler Anderson (96) and Future Considerations in exchange for Forward Josh Bly (96) Anderson, who hails from Niverville, Manitoba, had 3 goals and 8 assists in 48 games this season. The 6’4, 200 pound rearguard also picked up 95 penalty minutes. “We’re adding a quality defenseman with Tyler,” said GM/Head Coach Rylan Ferster, “He is a big body that will play some quality minutes for our team.” Bly will be returning to Saskatchewan where he lit up the Midget league in 2013/2014. He registered 65 points in 41 games that season, while putting up 40 points the year prior. The Klippers are also familiar with Bly, as he played one game as an affiliate in 2012/2013. Their new head coach is Geoff Grimwood, who coached the South Island Royals of the BC Major Midget League most recently. “We would like to thank Josh for his time with the hockey club, and wish him the best of luck in the SJHL,” added Ferster. Bly finished with 9 goals and 7 assists for the Warriors last season.

Vees Solidify Front Office & Hockey Operations Staff:

The Penticton Vees Jr. ‘A’ Hockey Club has solidified their hockey operations and front office staff ahead of the 2015-16 BCHL season. The Vees are excited to welcome David Michaud as Director of Player Development & Corporate Sales, and Steven Cocker as Director of Hockey Operations & Analytics. President, General Manager and Head Coach Fred Harbinson says the organization is always looking to better themselves, “As we have grown and established ourselves as one of the elite junior hockey franchises in North America we are still aware how the game is constantly evolving. The addition of both David and Steven will bring another layer of professionalism to our program." Michaud spent the past five years as the General Manager of the Okanagan Rockets Major Midget team. Michaud first joined the Rockets during the 2010 season, and over five seasons guided the Rockets to a 116-56-28 record. The highlight of Michaud’s tenure with the club came during the 2013-2014 season when the Rockets claimed a BCMML championship, a Pacific Regional championship, and ultimately national bronze at the Telus Cup in Moose Jaw. Cocker split the last year and a half working for the St. John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and the Lahti Pelicans in the Finnish SM-Liga U-20 league. Cocker was the Director of Player Development & Analytics for the Sea Dogs and a Manger for the Pelicans in Finland. Cocker has also worked for International Scouting Services and the Cedar Rapids RoughRidgers in the United States Hockey League. Cocker, who’s from Ontario, graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sports and Leisure Management at Haaga-Helia University in Finland. The Vees are also pleased to announce that Fraser Rodgers will be back with the organization as the Director of Broadcasting and Media Relations. Rodgers has been with the team for the past four years in the same role and has been behind the mic for four Fred Page Cups, two RBC Cups, one Western Canada Cup, one Doyle Cup and over 100 playoff games at the junior ‘A’ level. Rodgers will be joined by broadcaster partner Trevor Miller, calling all the action this upcoming season on the home of the Vees, EZ Rock AM 800. “It was very important to me to re-sign Fraser; he's done an outstanding job since arriving in Penticton and is an integral part of our program," said Harbinson. The Vees are also retaining Kyle Hamaguchi as the team’s Goaltending Coach, Ed Lebler as a Skills Development Coach, and Brent Mosses as the team’s Strength & Condition Coach. Matt Miller will be back as the club’s Video Coach. Laura Carleton will once again be in a Corporate Sales & Marketing role. Nick Fuher and Steve Cawley will continue to serve as Assistant Coaches to Head Coach Fred Harbinson for the 2015-16 season.

Silverbacks Name Viegas New Trainer:

Salmon Arm Silverbacks General Manager Troy Mick today announced today the hiring of Jade Viegas BKin, CAT(C), ATC as the teams new Athletic Trainer for the upcoming season. "After going through the interview process it was very clear to me that Jade was the ideal person for this position" stated Troy Mick. Her resume is outstanding and she will be a great fit for the SIlverbacks moving forward. Jade brings a great deal of knowledge with her Bachelor of Kinesiology and Advance Certificate in Athletic Therapy. She comes to us after being with former UFA Bisons (now CFR Chemical Bisons), of the AMHL, for the last two seasons. In her last season the team captured a League Championship as well as a Pacific Championship and a trip to Nationals for the very first time. She has also worked with Hockey Alberta's Elite Male and Female programs for the last few years and won a silver and bronze medal respectively at the 2015 Canada Winter Games. Jade will start her new position Aug 15 with main camp opening Aug 23 at the Shaw Centre.

Nanaimo A Very Attractive Market For WHL Franchise:

Nanaimo will be given "full consideration" to be home to a Western Hockey League franchise if another team relocates and if a proposed new multiplex is indeed built, league commissioner Ron Robison said Monday. "It's a very attractive market," Robison said in a phone interview with the Daily News. "It sounds like there's some real good initial work that's being done, and it's a very exciting project for the community of Nanaimo. We've indicated all along that in the event a facility that meets the WHL standard, if it's available in Nanaimo, the market becomes a real interest to us." A proposal for a privately funded 5,000-seat sports and entrainment multiplex downtown, as well as residences, a hotel and commercial space, was made public last week by Nanaimo Howard Johnson hotel general manager Dan Brady on behalf of developer Brian Martin. The complex is proposed to replace the Howard Johnson and Tally-Ho liquor store on the corner of Comox and Terminal avenues, and would be able to house a WHL team. If the building is constructed, Robison said finding a team to relocate to Nanaimo would be the next step to bringing a second team to Vancouver Island and provide a natural rival to the Victoria Royals, as well as help mitigate league travel issues on and off the Island. "At this point, we are committed to our existing markets and although we do have some challenges in certain markets, we want to exhaust every effort to keep them in their markets," he said. "In the event that doesn't happen, Nanaimo will be considered due to how strategically it is located from the standpoint of our franchise in Victoria and generally the Western Conference." Brady confirmed Monday that the Howard Johnson group looking to build the complex is unlikely to be interested in purchasing and relocating an existing team - that means a current owner would need to relocate a team, or sell to someone who is willing to, for Nanaimo to have a team. The Cranbrook-based Kootenay Ice franchise is one possibility of a team nearing the brink of relocating. Playing in a city with a population of 19,364 (2011 census), the Ice attracted the second-fewest number of fans in the WHL last season with 2,239 per game. Nanaimo's population is 83,810 (2011 census). Ice owner, president and general manager Jeff Chynoweth told The Globe and Mail in December that his franchise is "looking at a six-figure deficit this year, a significant six-figure deficit. ... I've been in the league for 29 years in a lot of different markets and have seen the game change and I'll tell you this: When your expenses continue to rise and your revenue is flat, that is not a good mix." Chynoweth's son, Ryan, played for the Ice for the past two season, but is leaving the team to finish his junior hockey career in Junior A, according to the Cranbrook Daily Townsman. As well, earlier this month Robison told the Townsman that the viability of a franchise in Cranbrook has "reached a very critical stage." "I think it's something we're going to have to determine this year. If things aren't improving, I don't believe ownership or the league will be in a position to continue to support the franchise remaining in Cranbrook. "It's a very critical season coming up... We're concerned right now, under any circumstances. "It's going to be a challenge, regardless of the ownership group." A relocation of the Ice to Nanaimo would also put a balance on the number of teams in the league's two conferences, with 11 in each. Currently, the Eastern Conference has 12 teams and the Western Conference has 10. However, Robison said Monday no WHL owners have expressed an interest to sell or relocate, and reiterated expansion is not an option. "We're focused on, whether its the Kootenay Ice in Cranbrook or another franchise, keeping them in their markets," he said. "And we're going to do everything we can to see if that's possible. "That's our commitment to those communities where we currently are." Alberta-based Nanaimo Clippers co-owner and governor Ken Wagner, who currently has the local B.C. Hockey League team up for sale, remains excited about the prospect of a WHL team possibly coming to Nanaimo. He said the Clippers would be unable to survive with a WHL team also in town, but that there should be few troubles finding an owner to put a WHL team in the proposed new building, if it is built. "There's no doubt that, if there's a 5,000-seat rink, the Western Hockey League will be there," Wagner said. Wagner went through the process of trying to bring a multiplex and a WHL team to Nanaimo years ago, but it never came to fruition. "About eight years ago, we sat down with the city and went through very similar circumstances that they are today, other than that we don't own the land like the Howard Johnson does today," he said. "We had drawn up a set of blueprints and spent a considerable amount of money and never got in the door. At that time, city council was preoccupied with the convention centre, so I don't think there was much of an appetite from the city administration at that point." According to Brady, the city will likely be asked to assist with helping remove impediments on the property, as well as to partner with the group to put local recreation programs in the multiplex. In 2013, the WHL and other stakeholders approached Nanaimo city council to gauge the interest of the community with regards to building a multiplex. Nothing came out of that, either. "That was simply to explore Nanaimo's interest in a facility so we could determine whether or not Nanaimo could be considered down the road for a franchise in the event that we did have a relocation," Robison said. "This is the first new development that we've had since that meeting." Robison added if a new multiplex is guaranteed to be built and a WHL team was set to be relocated to Nanaimo, Frank Crane Arena could be used while the new facility is constructed. "We've done that before in the past where we had temporary facility, but certainly not from a long-term standpoint," he said. The city and the proposed developer are working on setting up a meeting to discuss plans for the site.

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