Wednesday, February 12, 2020

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:

Clippers Name Cyr New Scout:

The Nanaimo Clippers Hockey Club has announced the appointment of Alumnus Colton Cyr as the Club’s new Victoria Area Scout. Cyr played in a Clippers uniform for four and a half seasons totaling a total of  188 games and earning himself 85 points during his time. He was also named Clippers Captain during the 2010-11 season. “The backbone of our program is our scouts and to add someone like Colton truly helps strengthen our program.”  commented Tali Campbell, Clippers General Manager “He is a Nanaimo native and played 188 games in a Clipper uniform so he understands the hard work it takes to make it in the BCHL and knows what type of talent it takes to crack the roster.” Darren Naylor who is the Director of Hockey Operations, Vice-President and Head Coach is thrilled with this addition as well “We are always looking for people to add to our scouting team and I couldn’t think of a better person than Colton. He understand the game, he understand the culture and overall understands the correct pieces to make a winning team.”

BCHL Approves Realignment For 2020-21 Season:

The BCHL Board of Governors held its semi-annual meeting on Jan. 23 and approved a new configuration for the 2020-21 season. With the expansion Cranbrook Bucks beginning their inaugural campaign next year, the Board voted in favour of changing to a two-conference system with nine teams on each side. The Coastal Conference will consist of the current Island and Mainland Division teams, minus the Prince George Spruce Kings, while the Interior Conference will see Cranbrook added as well as Prince George.

The breakdown is as follows:

Coastal ConferenceInterior Conference
Alberni Valley BulldogsCranbrook Bucks
Chilliwack ChiefsMerritt Centennials
Coquitlam ExpressPenticton Vees
Cowichan Valley CapitalsPrince George Spruce Kings
Langley RivermenSalmon Arm Silverbacks
Nanaimo ClippersTrail Smoke Eaters
Powell River KingsVernon Vipers
Surrey EaglesWenatchee Wild
Victoria Grizzlies
West Kelowna Warriors

“With Cranbrook coming into the league next year, the league and the Board recognized the need to alter our current divisional alignment,” said BCHL Executive Director Steven Cocker. “The new format makes the most sense geographically and is a logical step for the future of the BCHL.” The league has also announced that it is moving from a 58-game schedule to 54, as well as a later start date in September. “The decision to reduce our games next season to 54 was a difficult move but, with our league mandate around player safety, we see this as what’s best for the development of our players,” said Cocker. “This will also result in fewer 3-in-3 weekends and proper rest between games in order to maximize time for practice and recovery.” “Another important component of the schedule was getting out of the month of August, our camps will now open in early September with season openers at the end of the month. We feel this will best serve our athletes in their out-of-season development.” On top of the changes to next season, the Board also voted to slightly alter the playoff format for this season by having the two crossover teams re-seed in the Interior Division based on their point totals, rather than being put into the seventh and eight slots automatically.

Cranbrook Bucks Season Tickets Available:

The Cranbrook Bucks officially make season tickets available to the public starting Saturday, celebrating their season ticket launch with a community event at Western Financial Place. Between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm on Saturday, the public can reserve their seats for the Cranbrook Bucks inaugural season in the BCHL. “We want to be a part of this community and we want to make the games social and a community event,” Nathan Lieuwen told, President and Majority Owner of the Cranbrook Bucks. “The more people we can get out to those, the more we can do that, the more that we can share our love for hockey together, I think, is so important for the community of Cranbrook.” Early Bird Pricing will remain in effect from February 1st until March 13th. Season tickets for adults are $350, while seniors are $330. Students and children can get season seats for $160, although all children under the age of 10 get free admission to Bucks games. “I was really passionate about making sure that the kids were free, making the games affordable for young families,” said Lieuwen. “Even at a walk-up ticket, it’s doable for a lot of younger families so that was the whole idea behind it.” Lieuwen is hoping for a great turnout from the community on their launch day, as he also looks to unveil a few more details about the team. “I’m hoping our mascot arrives on time, we might have him out there so it’s going to be a lot of fun.” The Cranbrook Bucks will begin their first season in the BCHL this September.

Saretzky Commits To Surrey Eagles For 2020-21 Season:

The Surrey Eagles are proud to announce forward Alec Saretzky has committed to the team for the 2020-21 B.C Hockey League season. The 18 year old forward is another weapon for Cam Keith’s group as he continues to gear the team up for next season. Saretzky is the 3rd new player the team has announced this season, following Matt Connor and Holden Cardinal. Saretzky, a Saskatoon native, has been playing this year with the Saskatoon Blazers of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League. On the year, Saretzky has 17 goals, 21 assists for 38 points in 34 games. Saretzky was eligible to play in the SMHL due to his early 2002 birthday, which gives him another 3 years of junior eligibility after this season. Saretzky was blunt when asked about what type of player he’s going to be. “I’m a combination of a playmaker and a goalscorer.” When asked why he chose to play for Surrey, his answer was pretty clear. “I thought of it as the best fit for me, and the best path for my development.” Cam Keith grabbed another player which fits the culture him and Brad Tobin have constructed this year. “[Saretzky] fits the mold. Unselfish, character kid, likes to make plays for his teammates but what really attracted us to Alec is that he can score goals. We’re lacking a pure goalscorer and he brings pretty much everything. He’s comfortable playing down low on the powerplay, plays net front, but he has the ability to make plays in tight areas.” Welcome to the flock Alec!

Hutson Commits To Vees For 2020-21 Season:

The Penticton Vees are pleased to announce forward Quinn Hutson (’02) has committed to the team for the 2020/21 Centennial Cup hosting season. Hutson, 18, currently plays with the North Jersey Avalanche under-18 team, registering 29 goals and 20 assists for 49 points in 21 games this season in the Atlantic Youth Hockey League. The 5’10, 161-pound forward played in 47 total games with the Avalanche program at the under-16 level, posting 35 goals and 26 assists for 61 points in just 47 games played. The Chicago, Illinois native comes to Penticton with a commitment to Boston University for the 2021/22 season, joining current Vees Jay O’Brien and Cade Webber as players who will suit up for the Terriers. “We are extremely pleased that Quinn has chosen to play in Penticton during our Centennial Cup season,” stated Vees President, General Manager and Head Coach, Fred Harbinson, “He will be relied upon to replace some of our graduating scoring.” “I’m extremely excited to join the Vees for next season,” commented Hutson, “This team is very well respected in junior hockey and has great history. I had a great experience with the coaching staff and team and look forward to next season and winning a national championship.” The Vees would like to welcome Quinn and his family to the Vees organization.

Grizzlys Sign Scott Atkinson As New General Manager / Head Coach:

The Olds Grizzlys are proud to announce the hiring of Scott Atkinson as the new General Manager & Head Coach.  Scott's resume is impressive from his time at Mount Royal, University of Calgary, Edge Hockey Academy & Salmon Arm of the BCHL Scott will be officially introduced at a press conference & begin his duties Monday January 27 at 11:30 am at the Olds Sportsplex Welcome to Grizz Country Scott and family

Cranbrook Bucks: Road to the BCHL (Pt.1)

The Cranbrook Bucks are the newest franchise in the BCHL and are set to begin play in September 2020, and is publishing a three-part series that is taking a deeper look into the league and the team as they near closer to their inaugural game. Part 1 of “Cranbrook Bucks: Road to the BCHL” will specifically look at the Junior A hockey league and some of the key differences from similar leagues in North America, while Part 2 and Part 3 will look further at the Cranbrook Bucks’ hockey operations and fan experience. While the City of Cranbrook said farewell to the Kootenay Ice and the WHL in 2019, the community is now opening its arms to the Cranbrook Bucks and the BCHL. From first glance, it may appear that both leagues follow a similar structure, but there are some key differences. Ultimately, the pursuit of education and development is the BCHL’s focus as the end-goal for the majority of players is to acquire a scholarship and play Division 1 hockey in the NCAA. This is one of the main factors that shapes and guides a player’s path and decision to either join the BCHL or WHL. One single game in the WHL and a player will forever lose their status to play in the NCAA as the National Collegiate Athletic Association views all three leagues in the CHL (WHL, OHL, QMJHL) as professional, thus voiding a player’s right join the college ranks south of the border. The BCHL doesn’t just focus on the NCAA however, as players are still fully free to play at Canadian universities through U Sports or Canada’s other collegiate associations. Nathan Lieuwen, President and Majority Owner of the Cranbrook Bucks told that the BCHL is an amazing option for prospective players because it doesn’t take any options off the table, whether the player’s goal is to play in the NCAA, reach the NHL, or get a post-secondary education. “The BCHL is widely regarded as the best Junior A league out there and on top of that they do some really creative things with the College Showcase and different events like that where they can bring out all of the NCAA scouts and they can take a look at players and talk to coaches and talk to kids and I think a lot of teams utilize that in the NCAA.” Last season 169 players in the BCHL committed to colleges, with 151 of them signing commitments to play the highest level of hockey in the NCAA at Division 1. Lieuwen said the availability and option to play high-level hockey, while getting an education is a great choice for players, setting them up for the future and their life after hockey, even if they one day play in the NHL. At the 2019 NHL Draft, eight BCHL players were selected including high-profile prospect Alex Newhook, who went 16th overall in the first round to the Colorado Avalanche. Lieuwen said the list of BCHL alumni in the NHL is long as 35 former BCHL players were in the NHL to start the 2019/2020 season. “I don’t think that that can be denied that these BCHL kids are going to the NHL. Some of them that are good enough are making it all the way.” A prime example of a BCHL success story is Justin Schultz, a former member of the Westside Warriors that players alongside Lieuwen in 2007/2008. “Justin’s a very good friend of mine,” Lieuwen told “Incredible player, obviously went that route and he went to Wisconsin and had a great career and obviously has won some Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh and has made himself a staple in the NHL and not only that but he also now has an education that he could use when his career eventually does end.” Lieuwen believes the Cranbrook Bucks and the BCHL are a perfect fit for up-and-coming hockey players whether they have NHL talent or not, as the league will equip them with the ability to further both of their future careers, whether that is through hockey or corporately. “Players that do not have their NCAA eligibility have a really difficult decision to make when they finish their junior careers because they have to decide whether they play pro and lose their education or go to school and so they really have to choose one side or the other, they can’t do both,” said Lieuwen. “It’s affected a lot of people that I know that have gone on to play pro hockey and may have only played for four, five, six years and then they have to kind of find their own way.” Lieuwen said the Cranbrook Bucks will have a high-quality product on the ice, but that through the BCHL they also hope to develop great young men as they take the next step after Junior A.

BCHL Commissioner Talks About League And Expansion:

BCHL Commissioner Chris Hebb was a guest with Matt Sekeres and Blake Price on TSN 1040 on Wednesday during the station’s weekly interview with personnel from around the league. Hebb’s appearance featured quite a bit of talk about the reasoning behind the move from three divisions to two conferences. He also touched on expansion for the league and broke news on where the 2020 Showcase Festival will be located.

Spruce Kings Played A Role In League Moving To Two Conference Format:

Since 2012, much has been made about the Spruce Kings being a member of the Mainland Division, despite the city of Prince George’s geographic location in the northern interior of BC. Hebb noted during the interview that moving Prince George to the Interior Conference was the biggest element to facilitate change. He added that the change will be different for the Spruce Kings in that they won’t be able to visit the Lower Mainland of BC and play two to three games before heading back up north. “They’re a great franchise and certainly felt this was the right move for the league. Their General Manager Mike Hawes sits on our competition committee, it was that committee who came up with this format and the governors voted for it,” explained Hebb.

New Conference Format Might Set Up For Expansion:

With the addition of Wenatchee in 2015 and Cranbrook next season as expansion teams, it marks the most active expansion since 2001 and 2002 when Coquitlam, Salmon Arm and Williams Lake joined the BCHL. Hebb says the move to an Interior Conference and Coastal Conference set-up will likely set the table for future expansion, either in the Lower Mainland or on Vancouver Island, as well as in BC’s Interior. “Getting Cranbrook in the Interior Conference and then moving Prince George in there obviously made a lot of sense. We thank the Spruce Kings for going along with that idea and it’s just a simpler way for us to break down the league and put ourselves in a place to have expansion someday, whether it’s in that side of the province, or out this way, we don’t know, but it may end up being a 20 team league one day.”

New Playoff Format For Next Season:

One of the biggest questions asked when the league announced the new alignment on Monday was how it would affect the format for the Fred Page Cup playoffs. During Wednesday’s interview, Price asked if – as logically suggested – the top eight of nine teams in each conference would make the playoffs under the new conference structure, Hebb replied, “Yeah, that’s what’s going to happen, so we’ll have two teams that won’t make the playoffs. Currently, we just have one team that doesn’t make the playoffs, but we’ll go to eight and eight.” The playoff format will mirror the NHL’s former format of all teams playing in the first round: first-place versus eighth, second versus seventh, third versus sixth and fourth versus fifth in each respective conference.

Salmon Arm Will Host 2020 BCHL Showcase:

The Salmon Arm Silverbacks are thrilled to announce that they have been chosen as the host team for the 2020 BCHL Showcase Festival. This is the first time Salmon Arm has hosted the event. It was held in Chilliwack since its inception in 2012 and was split between Chilliwack and Penticton last year. “The BCHL Showcase is a great event that we are looking forward to bringing to Salmon Arm,” Silverbacks General Manager Brooks Christensen said. “It will be great to showcase the community of Salmon Arm and all that it has to offer. Scouts, players, parents and fans from all over will be in town, plus 18 teams showcasing their skills and competing. This has been a well-run event in Chilliwack over the years and Penticton last year. I am confident our organization and community will host a high-quality event.” With the addition of the Cranbrook Bucks for the 2020-21 season, the Showcase Festival will see each of the 18 clubs play two regular season games at the Shaw Centre over the course of the four-day event. On top of the high-level hockey fans and scouts have come to expect, the league will focus on a festival atmosphere. Fans will have the opportunity to participate in activities to engage the local community as well as a Fan Zone with fun and interactive events for people of all ages. “The league is thrilled to bring the Showcase Festival event to the great hockey community of Salmon Arm,” BCHL Executive Director Steven Cocker said. “The Silverbacks have been incredible league partners and are more than deserving of hosting one of the league’s premier events. We are excited to give back to the great community and fans of the Silverbacks.” The BCHL is pleased to once again partner with BC Hockey on this event. Schedule details and ticket sales will be announced at a later date.

Campbell River Is On The League’s Radar For Expansion:

During the segment with Sekeres and Price, a listener from Campbell River sent in a question for the hosts to ask Hebb about expansion to that Vancouver Island city. Hebb mentioned that he actually knows Campbell River Mayor Andy Adams personally. “I have a personal relationship with the mayor up there and he calls from time to time to emphasize that Campbell River would be a good market for a BCHL team and there’s no question that we’re keeping our eye on the developments with their arena. Having another team on the Island would help that Division, so having the BCHL in Campbell River is not out of the question.”

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