After a solid spring break vacation, I’m back in action. Welcome to the April 3, 2018 edition of BCHL Today, a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.
Miss a week and miss a lot in the BCHL where Penticton, Vernon, Victoria and Surrey are gone and playoffs are down to the final four.
Monday night saw Powell River claw back into their series against Prince George with a 3-2 overtime win at the Hap Parker Arena. It took double overtime to do it, with Ben Berard scoring on the 55th shot of the game by the Kings.
Berard’s goal came on a power play, which was a rare thing in this game. Dustin Manz was given a minor and misconduct at 12:48 of the second OT session after delivering a blow to the head of a Powell River player. In 92 minutes and 48 seconds leading up to that call, referees Steve Brown and Dex Rasmussen were in full ‘let ‘em play’ mode, dealing out just three power plays.
Prince George had just one chance the entire game.
Neal Samanski and Kevin Obssuth had the Kings up 2-0 through 20 minutes in this one, with PG battling back on a second period goal by Jay Keranen and a third period goal by Kyle Johnson. The Spruce Kings have proven surprisingly adept at overcoming deficits in these playoffs, something you wouldn’t expect from a team that plays the stifling style that they do.
Another interesting note about Prince George is their wild swing between home and road success, something that is coming into play in this series.
PG is 8-2-0-0 at the Rolling Mix Concrete Arena, including 2-1 and 5-1 wins over Powell River. Only Wenatchee, unbeaten at 7-0-0-0, has a better home record in the postseason.
But the Spruce Kings have struggled to a 2-5-0-0 record on the road, worst by far among the teams that made it to the second round. The team with the best road record in the playoffs, so far, is Powell River at 5-3-0-0, which gives them hope against PG.
Win game four and six at home and find a way to get one in Prince George and they’re through to the league final.
Sounds easy right?
The BCHL has handed the latest Player of the Week award to Wenatchee’s Jasper Weatherby.
The reigning league MVP has his Wild up 2-0 on Trail in the Interior division final, picking up two goals and six points in the wins.
|Wenatchee Wild’s Jasper Weatherby looks for the handle in Game 2 action of the Interior Division final against the Trail Smoke Eaters on Saturday in Wenatchee. The Wild beat the Smokies 4-2 and take a 2-0 series lead. Russ Alman photo.|
He was named the first star in both matches.
Weatherby led the BCHL in regular season scoring with 37 goals and 74 points in 58 games and now leads the playoff parade with 10 goals and 23 points in 12 outings.
Weatherby’s Wild teammate, defenceman Zak Galambos (2-2-1-3) was one of the honourable mentions along with a pair of Prince George Spruce Kings, forward Ben Brar (2-2-2-4) and goaltender Evan DeBrouwer (two wins, .949 save percentage, 1.00 goals-against average).
Three BCHLers secured NCAA scholarships last week.
We’ll start with West Kelowna captain Jared Marino, who is heading to Colgate U next season. The Ontario native has just finished his third BCHL campaign, all with the Warriors, including the team’s Fred Page Cup championship season of 2015-16.
A seldom-scoring role player until this year, Marino posted six goals and 29 points in 99 games between 2015 and 2017, then exploded for 21 goals and 53 points in 57 games as a 20 year old, adding a physical element as a banging crashing six-foot-three and 205 pound forward.
|Jared Marino in action with the West Kelowna Warriors.|
“Jared has meant so much to the program,” said Warriors head coach and general manager Rylan Ferster in a team press release. “He’s been here for three years and it’s been a pleasure to watch him grow into a great player and leader. He’s very deserving of this.”
Colgate plays in the East Coast Athletic Conference, a 12 team Ivy-League circuit that includes Cornell, Union, Clarkson, Harvard, Dartmouth, Princeton, Yale, Quinnipiac, Brown, Rensselaer and St. Lawrence.
Jared’s brother Kyle also played for the Warriors (2014-16) and is now at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks.
Congrats also to Simon Chen, the graduating Cowichan Caps defenceman who has secured a scholarship with the University of Alabama-Huntsville.
Chen is a rarity as a player who claims Beijing, China as his place of birth. Andong Song, a late round draft pick of the New York Islanders in 2015, is the only other active player who comes to mind. The first-ever Chinese-born player selected in the National Hockey League entry draft, Song spent this season with the USHL’s Madison Capitols and has committed to Colgate U for 2018-19.
But back to Chen, who has just finished his second season in the BCHL.
In 108 regular season and playoff outings for Cowichan, the 20 year old posted three goals, 14 points and 41 penalty minutes.
|Simon Chen helps kill a penalty during a game between the Cowichan Valley Capitals and Alberni Valley Bulldogs in January. Kevin Rothbauer photo|
“This has been a goal for Simon and he has worked very hard to accomplish this,” said Caps coach Brian Passmore in a team press release. “Simon worked hard both on and off the ice to improve his game. He is a very smart kid and excellent student. This past season he was able to play in all situations and gain valuable experience. Simon is a team player and we wish him all the best with his collegiate academics and athletics.”
Alabama-Huntsville plays in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, a 10 team circuit that includes Minnesota State, Northern Michigan, Bowling Green, Bemidji State, Michigan Tech, Ferris State, Alaska, Lake Superior and Alaska-Anchorage.
Sticking with WCHA schools, Bemidji State has inked graduating Victoria forward Ethan Nother for 2018-19.
The 20 year old is one and done with the Grizzlies, but it was a fine season for the Ontario native, who produced 26 goals and 59 points in 58 regular season games, and five goals and 10 points in 12 playoff outings. Nother is a small forward at five-foot-eight and 150 pounds, but with hockey shifting to a more wide-open style, players with his blend of speed and skill are now in demand.
“Ethan was a great addition to our hockey club this season,” said Grizzlies head coach/general manager Craig Didmon in a team press release. “Not only was he a great contributor offensively, but also a great teammate. He came to the BCHL to garner a division one scholarship and he was able to accomplish that. This honour is very well deserved.”
And finally, a BCHL grad has been nominated for a prestigious NHL trophy.
Las Vegas Golden Knights defenceman Brad Hunt is his team’s pick for the Bill Masterton Trophy, given to the player who ‘best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.’
Hunt is a Maple Ridge native who spent two seasons (2006-08) with the Coquitlam Express. Standing just five-foot-nine, the blueliner has had it tough trying to make it in the pro ranks, logging just 33 games over six seasons with Edmonton, St. Louis and Nashville prior to this year.
Given a new lease on life with the expansion Golden Knights, easily the NHL’s story of the year, the 29 year old has seen action in 43 matches, producing three goals and 18 points.
Hunt is proof that a dream can come true if you’re willing to stick with it and put in the work.
He is also proof you can have your name dropped on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon for the strangest reason.
Eric Welsh is the sports editor at the Chilliwack Progress and has been covering junior A hockey in B.C. and Alberta since 2003.