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:
Sacco Commits To Trail:
The Trail Smoke Eaters are excited to welcome forward David Sacco, a University of New Hampshire commit, to the Smoke Eaters organization for the upcoming season. Sacco, from Middleton, Massachusetts joins the Smoke Eaters after playing his last two years for the Lawrence Academy Spartans of the USHS-Prep league. The 18-year-old played just 24 games for the Spartans this year and finished with 17 goals and 23 assists for 40 points. Despite playing three fewer games than his team mates, Sacco still finished second in team scoring. Sacco also played games for the Cape Cod Whalers playing games in the EHF U18 Elite league adding 7 points in 9 games and 18 more points in the Midget division for the Whalers. As a Spartan Sacco had 69 points in 49 games over his two season. “We’re very excited to add David Sacco to our next roster. David has a top end ability to score, while also possessing a high level of abrasiveness. We believe this mix of talent and edge will fit right into our forward group. Our goal is to have David ready to step into the University of New Hampshire for the 2021-22 season as a top Freshman.” – HC & GM Jeff Tambellini. When it the opportunity to become a Smoke Eater came before Sacco, he said he called current Smoke Eater and former teammate Connor Sweeney. “He told me what a great town and community Trail was. He said the energy inside Cominco and the passion of the fans makes this a great place to play your junior hockey. It’s been a goal of mine get to the next level of hockey, I’m excited that it will be in Trail and i’m looking forward to putting in the work to bring a championship to the City of Trail.” The Trail Smoke Eaters would like to welcome David Sacco to the City of Trail and the Smoke Eaters organization. We look forward to seeing him in Smoke Eaters orange in the fall.
NHL 20 Playoff Simulation: Salmon Arm vs. Trail
Ethan Langenegger and the Salmon Arm Silverbacks take on Kent Johnson and the Trail Smoke Eaters in Round 2 of the NHL 20 BCHL Playoffs Simulation, powered by Shaw.
Nanaimo Clippers: Graduating Players And Eligible Returnees:
The Nanaimo Clippers are coming off a season where they won the Island Division regular season title. The team has nine players committed to attend NCAA Division I schools this fall, including second-leading scorer Ethan Scardina. Leading scorer Joshua Bourne played out his 20-year-old year and is ineligible to return. However, the Clippers offence in 2020-21 is buoyed by the return of newly minted captain Kyler Kovich, who had 39 points in 51 games this past season. Joining him is 25-goal man and third-leading scorer Josh Kagan. There’s lots of veteran leadership on the blueline with Liam Visram, Trevor LeDonne and Robby Drazner all 20-year-olds next season. 17-year-old sophomore Jack O’Brien is already committed to attend Cornell University starting in the 2022-23 season. In goal, there is strength in numbers as returnees Jordan Naylor and Zachary Bennett are two overage players who will battle for crease time. Naylor had the third-highest single-season save percentage in BCHL history in 2019-20.
The depth chart is based on coaches going with a 23-man roster of 13 forwards, eight defencemen and two goaltenders.
Tyler Williams (Lake Superior State University)
Ethan Scardina (Bowling Green State University)
Mackenzie Merriman (Princeton University)
Sean Donaldson (University of Connecticut)
Tim Washe (Western Michigan University)
Steven Agriogianis (Northeastern University)
Mike Kennedy (Princeton University)
Aiden Hansen-Bukata (Rochester Institute of Technology)
Devon Mussio (University of Alaska Anchorage)
Travis Walton (Trinity Western University)
Joshua Bourne (aged out)
Scott Mahovlich (aged out)
(* indicates an open spot – assuming the team goes with 13 forwards and eight defencemen)
Zack Dallazanna (00)
Liam Ryan (00)
Josh Kagan (01)
Brandon Dent (01)
Kyler Kovich (02)
Liam Visram (00)
Trevor LeDonne (00)
Robby Drazner (00)
Jack O’Brien (03)
Jordan Naylor (00)
Zachary Bennett (00)
Looking Back At Vees Forward Jay O'Brien:
With the 2019/20 season coming to a close, we will take a look at each of the six 20-year-olds on the Vees roster and look back on their junior hockey careers. Next up: forward Jay O’Brien. The 2018/19 season was one that forward Jay O’Brien made a leap into from high school, suiting up for Providence College in the NCAA as a true freshman. A campaign that was hampered by injury and learning a balance of school and hockey made for a difficult transition and, ultimately, a big life choice. “It’s never easy to make a big decision like I did to leave college,” said O’Brien, “The jump from prep school to college is one that was more than anticipated for me. When I look back on it, I was so young in that I was only 18 and now that I am 20 years old, with a year of junior hockey under my belt, it feels entirely different.” That decision to play junior hockey saw the Hingham, Massachusetts native come to Western Canada for the first time and commit to play for the Vees. Traditionally, a 20-year-old player in junior hockey has experience at that level, whether in the BCHL or other junior leagues. For O’Brien, his story was a different one, “I’m coming from a different background than guys like David (Silye), Jack (Barnes), Colton (Kalezic) and Carson (Kosobud), who have been playing junior hockey for three or four years now,” mentioned O’Brien, “This was my first year of junior and I didn’t really know what to expect. I went to Youngstown in the USHL for a couple of weeks after my junior year in high school but I was only 16 and I was more worried about playing well and focusing so much on the hockey side that I didn’t really take in the experience.” Focusing on hockey was what O’Brien wanted to get back to when making the decision to play in Penticton and bringing joy back to the game that he loved, “You hear everyone say that junior helps your development so much and honestly, I agree with that,” said O’Brien, “My life is hockey, I love going to the rink every day and there is nothing better than going to the rink and being able to hang out with the guys. If you’re someone who loves hockey, junior is a perfect spot and I couldn’t agree more with my decision to come here.” “It was my first year so there was that excitement to come to the rink every day and see the guys,” continued O’Brien, “I had so much fun coming in every day and practicing and it holds a special place for me and it still doesn’t feel real and I can’t believe it is over.” Coming in and not knowing what to expect from junior hockey, O’Brien got his first taste in the exhibition season when the Vees hosted the Brooks Bandits of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. A two-game weekend set that had more feeling than a normal preseason back-to-back matchup, “That was intense,” recalls O’Brien, “That first weekend is one I will always remember. It was like legit playoff games and were so intense with chirping and big hits. The fans were into it and I think that was huge for us to get those couple of games under our belt and go right into the regular season.” The start of the regular season saw the Vees win each of their first 11 contests and created one of the first moments to remember for O’Brien, scoring an overtime, game-winning goal in Prince George against the Spruce Kings. For Jay, that wasn’t necessarily why the night was so memorable, however, “We had a big win up in Prince George and I guess that’s where I got my first taste of junior hockey when I got stitches about my eyebrow, done nicely by Kerrzy (Vees Trainer Brendon Kerr),” said O’Brien, “Those were the things you will always remember, getting stitches and then coming back to score the OT winner and have all the guys come over and celebrate and coaches giving you a pat on the back.” “I knew we were going to be a good team early on,” continued O’Brien, “You could see it in practice as guys wanted to be there and be the best player they could. A guy like myself really tried to implement that and push the pace in practice and get everybody going early and start us off on the right foot. We learned a lot early about the way we wanted to play and how different lines looked but I think the biggest thing for us is that we just played really hard and we played together and that’s why we won so many games this year.” Being a first round selection in the National Hockey League’s Entry Draft, going 19th overall in 2019 to the Philadelphia Flyers, O’Brien has been used to garnering attention from the opposition and was no different in his transition to junior hockey, “This year kind of reminded me of my last year in high school,” said O’Brien, “Everybody is keening on you and wants to take a lick at you and get you off your game but for me, there is nothing more I like better than that. I like getting into it with guys on the ice and it fuels the fire for me and makes me play with an edge and a bit chippy.” As the season progressed, the play of the Vees seemed to get more and more intense, no matter who was in our out of the lineup. One constant always remained the same and that was how tight-knit of a team this was, “I think Fred (Harbinson) did a great job in finding the group that really fit our mold in guys that wanted to win and wanted to be a Vee,” mentioned O’Brien, “When you have guys like that, it makes it pretty easy to come together as a group. I think just the fact that we were able to come back in so many games, I don’t think I have ever been a part of a group like that before and says a lot about the team we had this season.” “I think the biggest thing will probably be all the guys,” O’Brien mentioned about what he will remember the most from his time in Penticton, “I think we had the perfect combination of guys that liked to joke around but knew when it was time to get serious. We had a lot of different personalities and guys that brought different things to the locker room, we had goofy guys but everyone knew the times it was okay to joke around and have fun and when it was time to lock it down.” “It was one of the best teams I’ve ever been on in terms of locker room chemistry and just everybody worked so hard on the ice and was so competitive,” continued O’Brien, “I think we had a lot of real competitors in the locker room that wanted one extra rep in practice or the gym and it just had a really special feel. I heard so many good things about Penticton and it’s reputation but once you get to know everyone there with the coaches and people around the team, it’s a really special place. I think it all starts with the owners in Graham and Sue (Fraser), they do such a great job with building the team and giving you every resource you need to become a good player and that’s why they have developed so many good hockey players.” O’Brien will continue his hockey career back in collegiate hockey and much closer to home in 2020, heading back to Massachusetts to play with Boston University in the fall. “I’m pumped,” commented O’Brien, “It’s such a different feeling right now than it was in the summer before going to Providence. It was so chaotic with the Draft and the NHL Combine as well as the World Junior Showcase, it felt kind of rushed going into college. The biggest thing for me was the mental side of it and I feel ready to go. I’m excited to get back into college and play for such a historic university and play with a lot of guys that I grew up playing with and under a Head Coach in Albie O’Connell who I know very well and I’m pumped to get things going there.” The Vees would like to thank Jay for everything he did while in Penticton and his contributions to the organization and the City of Penticton and wish him the very best in his future endeavours!
Chilliwack Chiefs Say COVID-19 Won’t Make Them Fold:
BCHL commissioner Chris Hebb made headlines last week, suggesting that financially troubled teams could fold due to COVID-19 if the junior A hockey league doesn’t receive financial aid. The hockey boss laid out a worst-case scenario that even included the possibility that the 2020-21 season might not go ahead. He suggested some teams might be forced to take a ‘hiatus,’ and never come back. But here in Chilliwack, the Chiefs say they’re in good shape to ride out the storm. “Well we’re not folding, I can tell you that much,” said Brian Maloney, the team’s head coach and general manager of hockey ops and the Chilliwack Coliseum. “Obviously there are tons of unknowns here with the league and teams within the league, and a lot of it is just people speculating, I’m sure. “Things could change. We could fire up at the end of the month, or we might not fire up until halfway through the year. But over the last few years we’ve done a good job cleaning up our expenses, managing our budget and putting ourselves in a position where we’re fine right now.” The Chiefs bowed out of the 2019-20 playoffs in the first round, and thus weren’t affected when the remaining three rounds were cancelled. The eight teams that were still in the hunt for the Fred Page Cup lost anywhere from two to 12 home games worth of revenue, depending on how far they advanced. The Chiefs, and every other league, will likely lose dollars from the cancellation of pay-to-play spring and summer camps. Where Chilliwack could take a significant bottom line hit is in sponsorship for next season. With local businesses feeling the pain of the COVID-19 induced shutdown, business owners may feel compelled to pull back on ‘discretionary spending.’ Sponsoring the local hockey club is a nice thing to do, but when there’s a stack of bills to be paid and little money left to pay them, tough calls have to be made. But Barry Douglas, who runs the business side, says so far the Chiefs’ business partners are sticking with them. “We’ve had great conversations with our partners, and most of them want to be involved with the Chiefs again, but it’s a wait-and-see approach like everything else right now,” he said. “They’ve shown they really want to support the team when hockey starts back up again.” As Hebb laid out his doomsday scenario, he urged BCHL teams to reach out to their municipal governments, and get those people pushing senior levels of government for help. “The economic impact that our team has in the community is important,” Douglas said. “With the restaurants and hotels and gas and the building as well – we provide jobs for local people – when we do get back up and running that economic impact will return.” And when the world does emerge from the pandemic and people try to get ‘back to normal,’ Maloney believes the Chiefs will play a big role. “If we can get through this, I think people are going to be excited about getting out of their living rooms and coming to the rink to support their local team,” he surmised. “Everyone needs sports. Not just hockey. It’s especially important for kids to get out and interact socially, and if we can open up and create some camps and some positive atmosphere, it’s only going to benefit everyone.”
Kings Name Van Diemen New General Manager: