Around the BCHL: Surrey Eagles sliding and Cassidy Bowes flows

Around the BCHL is a look at what’s happening in the league and around the junior A world.

Welcome to the November 13, 2018 edition of Around the BCHL.

Hair controversy in the BCHL?

It’s true, according to an article by Penticton Western News editor Kristi Patton. Patton points out a poll that was put on the league’s @goBCHL Twitter account last week, asking fans to identify the player with the best hair.

Ty Westgard (Surrey), Alex Newhook (Victoria), Regan Kimens (Coquitlam) and Diarmad DiMurro (Trail) were the candidates put forth, with Penticton’s Cassidy Bowes the most notable snub.

Bowes has left his hair uncut since the start of the season as he raises money for the Children’s Cancer Research Fund, pledging to not get a trim until the fundraising target of $9,292 is met.

He’s up to $3,224 so far and his flow is spectacular.

But, according to Patton’s article, the league excluded Bowes from the poll because he’s growing his hair out for a cause.

The Vees Twitter account immediately went to bat for Bowes and teammate Drew Elser, who is also rocking some great hockey hair.

No matter what happens the rest of the season, this is undoubtedly the story of 2018-19.

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The Chilliwack Chiefs put a 10 on the scoreboard in a Monday afternoon road rout of the Surrey Eagles.

Cayden Bailey got the start in goal for Surrey, lasting three minutes and 58 seconds.

He faced three shots. All three got by him with Brett Willits scoring twice and Ethan Bowen adding a single. Willits and Bowen ended the game with hat-tricks. Cole Donhauser had a pair with Marcus Tesink and Will Dow-Kenny also scoring as the Chiefs improved their league-leading record to 18-7-0-0.

The Eagles fell to 6-19-0-1. Points-wise they’re tied with Cowichan for last overall, but their .250 win percentage is worst in the 17 team league. What’s most amazing about Surrey is their goals-against. Take away Monday’s game and the Eagles are still the only team to have coughed up more than 100 goals this season (111 without Chiliwack game, 121 with). Only one other team has given up more than 90 (Cowichan with 91).

If you’re looking for silver linings, Ty Westgard is fifth in BCHL scoring with nine goals and 33 points in 23 games.

But that’s about it, and Surrey’s situation could get a lot worse before it gets better.

One other note on the Eagles before moving on.

Surrey has played 11 games at home this season and has just one win. Something about the South Surrey Arena isn’t sitting right with the team this year. Away from home they are much better (only by comparison), with five wins in 15 games.

Normally a team would look at their schedule, see a home-heavy back half and be happy.

The Eagles might be the exception.

On the plus side, here’s Teddy Prior’s first BCHL goal, a small bright spot for Surrey in Monday’s Chilliwack romp.

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Updating the Vernon Viper heartbreaking loss index with another defeat.

The Salmon Arm Silverbacks beat Vernon by a 4-3 count in overtime Saturday night, with Olson Werenka scoring the winner. That’s six times the Vipers have fallen in OT this season. Add in two shootout losses and more than a third of their games in 2018-19 (23) have ended with a bad result in extra time. What makes the Salmon Arm loss even more heartbreaky is that Vernon rallied to tie the game with 1:08 to go in the final frame on a goal by Ben Helgeson.

Just when they thought a break had finally gone their way, they had the rug pulled out from under them, and you’ve got to think this might be getting into their heads.

I’ve pointed this out in a previous column, but had the Vipers picked up an extra point in half of their overtime and shootout losses, they’d be fourth in the division, three points out of first place. Instead they’re sixth, seven points back of the front-running Merritt Centennials.

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Sticking with the Interior division and the Centennials, who continue to boast the league’s top offensive attack.

Merritt tagged the West Kelowna Warriors for eight goals in an 8-3 Remembrance Day win.

The Centennials have 99 goals on the season.

Checking the league leaders this morning, Merritt has three players inside the top seven. Bradley Cocca is third in the points race with 34. Nick Granowicz is fourth with 33 and Mathieu Gosselin is seventh with 30.

We’re only in mid-November but the Centennials already have five players who’ve hit double digits in goals; Cocca (12), Granowicz (18), Gosselin (13), Matthew Kopperud (10) and Rylan Van Unen (10). Brendan Schneider (nine) will join that list with his next goal.

Merritt’s big problem is the other end of the ice, where they continue to bleed goals against.

Only Surrey (121), Cowichan (91) and Trail (89) have given up more goals than the Centennials (87). They’ve been able to out-score those issues so far, but defensive play will tighten up league wide as teams shift into playoff-race mode in 2019, and offence-first clubs have a long history of fading down the stretch.

Merritt will need to fix their 200-foot game if they want to be anything more than a fun-to-watch also-ran next spring.

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I was wondering when BCHL points and goals leader Kevin Wall would get an NCAA scholarship and it finally happened.

Wall has signed on with Penn State for the 2019-20 season, one of five BCHL players announcing college commitments over the last few days.

The dynamic Wenatchee duo of Christophe Fillion and Cristophe Tellier have both chosen Quinnipiac University and will join the Bobcats in 2020-21.

That’s hard work paying off for Fillion.

Long-named Cowichan defenceman Dimitri Mikrogiannakis will become a problem for Rochester Institute of Technology radio and newspaper guys in 2020-21 and Powell River’s Ryan Brushett is set to join the University of Nebraska-Omaha in 2019-20.

Eric Welsh is the sports editor at the Chilliwack Progress and has been covering junior A hockey in B.C. and Alberta since 2003.

Email eric.welsh@theprogress.com

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