Around the BCHL: Junior A cities to host World Junior tuneup games

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

Welcome to the November 15, 2018 edition of Around the BCHL.

Remember the name Mark Dekanich?

You’d have to be a longtime fan of the BCHL and the Coquitlam Express. Dekanich tended net for the Express during the 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons before moving on to a four-year career at Colgate University.

Dekanich went on to a wandering 10 year career that included time in the ECHL (Cincinnati Cyclones/South Carolina Stingrays/Reading Royals) and the AHL (Lehigh Valley Phantoms/Hershey Bears/St. John’s IceCaps/Springfield Falcons/Milwaukee Admirals.

Dekanich even went overseas for a stretch, spending the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons with the KHL’s Madvescak Zagreb.

Anyhow, the point of all this is that the 32 year old North Vancouver native has announced his retirement, and Express radio play-by-play man Eddie Gregory sat down with the goalie to talk about his journey through pro hockey.

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The Vernon Vipers have been hit by another Western Hockey League defection.

Sebastian Streu is joining the Regina Pats, making him the third Viper to jump ship to a major junior squad.

Streu was in this column for a better reason last week after being named to Team Germany for the upcoming 2019 IIHF World Junior Championships. The 19 year old forward collected four goals and six points in 10 games with Vernon.

Vernon Vipers forward Sebastian Streu (left) taking a faceoff against a Salmon Arm foe during a Nov. 10 BCHL game. JODI BRAK PHOTO

Vernon lost 18 year old forward Josh Prokop to the Calgary Hitmen in late September and goalie Max Palaga departed not long ago for the Everett Silvertips.

The talent drain usually goes the other way, with major junior castoffs finding their way into the junior A ranks.

It’s just been an overall bad luck season for Vernon.

Updating the heartbreaking loss index, the Vipers fell 3-2 to Trail Wednesday night giving them their 11th one-goal loss of the season. That’s 11 out of 16 total losses coming by the narrowest margin, with six coming in overtime and two via the shootout.

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Sticking with the Snakes, the team acquired a hometown kid on Tuesday, picking up 19 year old forward Matt Kowalski from the West Kelowna Warriors.

Vernon sent defenceman Austin Chorney to West K in return.

Kowalski has five goals and 13 points in 19 games this year and has career totals of 27 goals and 58 points in 119 BCHL games with the Warriors and Nanaimo Clippers.

“It’s never easy to make a trade, but an opportunity to acquire a talent player who comes from Vernon, and his skill set will fit in nicely with this group.” said Vipers head coach and general manager Mark Ferner in a team news release.

Chorney continues his nomadic journey through the BCHL.

Austin Chorney with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, the team he spent most of the last two years with. SALMON ARM OBSERVER PHOTO

The 18 year old started his junior A career with the Chilliwack Chiefs, where he logged 35 games between 2015-16 and 2016-17. He went on to 81 regular season and playoff games with Salmon Arm and 17 with Vernon.

This year he had one goal and three points in 17 games.

“Austin was great for us,” Ferner said. “He did everything we asked of him and did it very well. We feel this (trade) will be a good fit not only for each team, but for the individual players as well.”

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Several junior A markets will host pre-tournament games this December featuring teams that are competing in the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championships, and one BCHL team will actually face off against an international foe.

The Alberni Valley Bulldogs play Team Kazakhstan Dec. 19 at the Weyerhauser Arena as part of the ‘Lordco Road to the World Juniors’ schedule.

Alberni Valley will host Kazakhstan versus Switzerland Dec. 21.

“We are honoured and excited to be taking part in this amazing event,” said Tali Campbell, director of business operations for the Bulldogs in an Alberni Valley News article. “This event will be something very special for our fans, players and community.”

The Langley Events Centre hosts two games, with Denmark facing Finland on Dec. 19 and the United States tackling the Czech Republic Dec. 22.

Chilliwack’s Prospera Centre welcomes Denmark and Sweden Dec. 22 and Nanaimo’s Frank Crane Arena is the site of Slovakia versus the Czech Republic on Dec. 19.

Victoria is co-hosting the tournament along with Vancouver (Rogers Arena), and two pre-tournament games will be played at the Save-On-Foods Centre as Canada faces Switzerland on Dec. 19 and Canada faces Slovakia on Dec. 21.

Get excited!

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Finishing today with three scholarship announcements, two of them involving the Wenatchee Wild.

Forward AJ Hodges has committed to the Union College Dutchmen for the 2020-21 season while teammate Lucas Sowder has signed his NLI (National Letter of Intent) with Minnesota State-Mankato Mavericks.

Penticton Vees center Ryan Sandelin has also signed an NLI with the Mavs, with both players expected to join the team 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 [email protected]

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