Around the BCHL: B.C. junior A league dominates Team Canada West roster

Around the BCHL: B.C. junior A league dominates Team Canada West roster

Around the BCHL is a look at what’s going on in the league and throughout the junior A world.

Welcome to the December 6, 2018 edition of Around the BCHL

I was up in the Prospera Centre press box for a rare Wednesday matinee game yesterday between the Chilliwack Chiefs and Langley Rivermen, and two things got my attention.

On the ice, the Chiefs beat Langley 3-1 in a match that included three fights, and I was trying to remember if I’ve seen any fights at all this season. That element really has disappeared from hockey, but the third fight reminded me why it was such an integral part of hockey culture for over a century.

Late in the second period, Langley defenceman Jake Livingstone leveled Chilliwack’s Jacques Bouquot with a borderline hit at the Chiefs blueline. It looked like a blindside shot to me, and Chilliwack’s Brody Gagno thought so too. The rookie tracked down Livingstone and the two dropped the mitts for a pretty good scrap.

Livingstone had to eat some rights (so did Gagno), got tossed from the game and maybe he’ll think twice before delivering a sketchy hit in the future.

I was almost certain Gagno was going to have an instigator penalty tacked on, but he didn’t, which makes me think referees Troy Paterson and Brennan Walker acknowledged the need for some player policing.

Too often, a hit like Livingstone’s isn’t dealt with and a game spirals out of control. In this instance the players, Gagno and Livingstone, settled it on the spot and defused the bomb. In an alternate universe where they didn’t fight the game may have devolved into something ugly in the final frame, but in this universe the teams played a relatively calm third period.

I’m not a fan of fighting for intimidation or momentum, but here’s one instance where it served a purpose.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————

The other thing that caught my eye came off the ice as Hockey Canada announced the Team Canada West roster for the upcoming World Junior A Challenge.

There’s been a lot of chatter this season about whether the BCHL is losing its status as the top junior A league in Canada, owing mostly to questionable ownership decisions in some key markets (fingers pointed mostly at Surrey and Nanaimo).

Seems alarmist and knee-jerk to me, and the Team Canada West roster says the BCHL is doing just fine.

Of the 22 roster spots available, 14 were snapped up by BCHLers. The AJHL (Alberta), SJHL (Saskatchewan), MJHL (Manitoba) and SIJHL (Superior International/Ontario) combined to snag eight spots. The AJHL ended up with five of those with the MJHL taking the other three.

So, at least on one half of the country, the BCHL still reigns supreme by a wide margin.

If you’re wondering who the top dog in the east is, it seems to be the Central Canadian Hockey League, which snared 10 of the 22 spots on Team Canada East. The Ontario Junior Hockey League took eight and the Quebec league grabbed four.

The World Junior A Challenge starts Sunday with Team Canada West opening against the United States.

If you’ve got time to watch, here’s the entire 2017 gold medal game between Team Canada West and Team United States.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————

Victoria Grizzlies fans will have the most reason to tune into this tournament, with five players in the mix. Forwards Alex Newhook, Alexander Campbell and Riley Hughes and defencemen Jeremie Bucheler and Carter Berger are all in Bonnyville, Alberta.

This is the double-edged sword of best-on-best competition.

It’s a fantastic opportunity for the Victoria players, especially Newhook, who’s viewed as a potential first round NHL draft pick next June.

But if Team Canada West advances to the gold medal match, the Grizzlies could be without their top guns for four games. Powell River doesn’t have a single player involved in the World Junior A Challenge and the Kings sit just four points back of Victoria in the Island division.

If a full-strength Powell River squad takes care of business while the shorthanded Grizzlies struggle, the division could change hands before the Victoria-five return.

There’s no way around it if you want players to experience this kind of tournament, but there could be major implications down the road if Powell River ends up winning the division by a narrow margin and having home-ice advantage against the Grizzlies in the playoffs.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————

The Coquitlam Express must believe they have a chance to make some noise this spring.

The team announced Tuesday morning that they’ve acquired forward Jared Power (great name!) from the AJHL’s Grand Prairie Storm in return for future considerations. Power is a 20 year old forward who was wearing an ‘A’ for the Storm. He had 11 goals and 19 points in 30 games, and it will be interesting to see how much of that offence travels with him to the Express.

League to league scoring equivalency is fascinating.

Like a major league pitcher going from the National League to the American League, you wonder how a player will hold up in a tougher environment. I saw this last year when the Chiefs acquired PJ Marrocco around midseason from the AJHL’s Bonnyville Pontiacs. At the time, Marrocco was leading the entire AJHL in scoring with 41 points in 28 games. When he came west, the shifty forward was still a good offensive player, but his stats with the Chiefs (28-11-12-23) weren’t nearly what they were in Alberta.

That said, if Coquitlam’s new player brings leadership, physicality (he’s six-foot-two and 195 pounds) and the ability to be a .5 points-per-game type, the Express will be better for it. After a red-hot start that had them near the top of the league, Coquitlam’s gone 2-6 over their last eight games and faded to third in the Mainland division.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————

I talked last week about Merritt’s Van Unen brothers committing to NCAA programs.

Here’s Mike with some thoughts on Northern Michigan.

And here’s Rylan discussing Alaska-Fairbanks.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————

There will be a lot of teddy bears flying through the air this weekend at BCHL arenas.

If you haven’t been in the house for one of these, they’re a lot fun.

Here’s how it’s looked the last four years at the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton.

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

Just Posted

Lightning in Kelowna, B.C. (Contributed)
Severe thunderstorm watch in effect for Okanagan

Conditions are favourable for the development of severe thunderstorms overnight

Justin Fotherby,17, and Ashley McMillan, 17 have been chosen for an invitation only competition that sees 20 of Canada’s top swimmers per event vying for a spot at the upcoming 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games. (Submitted)
Penticton swimmers off to Olympic trials

The pair are eyeing a spot on the Canadian team heading to the Tokyo Olympics

Bentley resting on a bench at Kal Park in Vernon not knowing there is a baby rattlesnake curled up below. Bentley jumped down and was bit by the snake. (Facebook)
Dog bit by baby rattler at popular Vernon park

The rattlesnake was hidden underneath a park bench when it struck out

Renderings of what the skating rink could look like beside City Hall between Martin and Main in downtown Penticton. (Activate Penticton image)
Outdoor skating rink back at Penticton council

City staff recommend going forward with rink which could host 2022 BCHL’s 60th year celebration

Longtime SOWINS volunteer Diane Fru (far left) walks with members of her family as they Walk To End Abuse Sunday, June 13, 2021. South Okanagan Women In Needs Society (SOWINS) raised a record amount this year. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Walk to End Abuse in South Okanagan breaks fundraising record

More than $53,000 raised so far while the pandemic has increased need for SOWINS’ services

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

(Heather Lueck image)
Crash north of Enderby knocks out power, slows Highway 97A traffic

A witness captured footage of a medical helicopter landing at the scene

Most Read