Welcome to the Feb. 20, 2018 edition of BCHL Today, a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.
It’s going to be a shorter one because your friendly neighborhood sports writer is coughing up a lung.
We start in Victoria with a statistical nugget passed along yesterday by Victoria Grizzlies play-by-play man Scott Didmon, who notes that the Grizz have been a shorthanded menace of late.
Victoria collected six shorties in a recent three-game stretch, starting with a Feb. 10 game vs the Cowichan Caps. The Grizzlies won 7-2, torching Cowichan for three shorthanded goals, one apiece by Ryan Nolan, Cameron Thompson and Marty Westhaver.
|Victoria Grizzlies forward Marty Westhaver has been a shorthanded goal scoring force lately. Mark Brett photo|
Jamie Rome collected a shortie the next night in a big 4-3 home-win over the Wenatchee Wild.
Facing the Salmon Arm Silverbacks on Feb. 16, Marty Westhaver collected two shorthanded goals in the third period of a 3-0 win. Victoria leads the BCHL with 13 shorthanded goals, but individually it’s a Powell River King and a Merritt Centennial leading the way.
Powell River’s Ethan Kimball and Merritt’s Zach Zorn have five apiece.
Westhaver is one of five players with four shorties along with AJ Vanderbeck (Wenatchee), Owen Sillinger (Penticton), Henry Cleghorn (Merritt) and Jesse Lansdell (Vernon).
For a not-so-sexy stat that probably only I care about, do you know who leads the league in shorthanded assists? Cleghorn, Dayne Finnson (Victoria) and Liam Watson-Brawn (Prince George) have four apiece.
Side note: Watson-Brawn. Great name!
There is one game in the league tonight as the Trail Smoke Eaters visit the Merritt Centennials at the Nicola Valley Arena.
As I pointed out in yesterday’s BCHL Today, Trail is going nowhere in the standings. They are firmly locked into the fourth seed in the Interior division, but Merritt has something to play for. After beating Chilliwack and tying Victoria last weekend, the Centennials have climbed into a tie with Salmon Arm for sixth place in the Interior. Each team has 50 points. The Silverbacks have one game in hand, and will have two after tonight, making this a must-win for Merritt.
|The Trail Smoke Eaters finished off a tough road trip with a pair of losses to the Wenatchee Wild on the weekend. Wenatchee Wild photo.|
And why does it matter who finishes sixth or seventh? It probably doesn’t. In fact, it’s like choosing between death by hanging, death by firing squad or death by electric chair because the sixth place team will face one of the Penticton Vees, Vernon Vipers or Wenatchee Wild and probably get their butts booted out of the playoffs pretty quick.
But when you’re looking for motivation late in the season, you’ll take what you can get.
Congratulations to Powell River’s Derek Krall, named the BCHL Player of the Week.
I talked about Krall in previous columns, but if you missed them, here’s the story. Pressed into action because the Kings have an alarming shortage of healthy goaltenders, Krall won his last three starts in spectacular fashion.
On Feb. 12, the Crofton native was between the pipes for a home game vs Alberni Valley, making his first appearance since Dec. 10 and only his second career BCHL start. The 17 year old stopped 25 of 26 pucks in a 4-1 win.
Okay fine. That’s AV. Maybe not a big deal right?
Krall was back between the pipes last Friday, staring down an Interior division heavyweight, the Vernon Vipers. The kid showed no signs of being rattled as the Vipers peppered his net with pucks. They threw 25 at him in the second period alone and 47 overall.
Jimmy Lambert was the only Viper to beat him as Krall backstopped the Kings to a massive 2-1 win.
If there were still doubters, they were silenced on Sunday as Powell River pummeled the Chilliwack Chiefs 7-1 at the Hap Parker Arena. I would love to know how many times a team has been outshot 40-35 and won a game by that score.
Krall was outstanding, earning his second straight first-star selection.
This from an affiliate goalie who spent most of this season with the junior B Nanaimo Buccaneers, proving that you never know when you’ll get your shot, but be ready to shine when you do.
|Krall in action with the Bucs in a Michael Briones photo|
Honourable mentions for player of the week include Krall’s Power River teammate Ben Berard, Merritt’s Tyrell Buckley, Penticton’s Owen Sillinger, Wenatchee’s Zak Galambos (great name!), Langley’s Braedon Fleming and Nanaimo’s Lucas Vanroboys.
Adam Rockwood played for the Express from 2011-14. In his final season he collected 13 goals and 74 points in 57 games, good for fifth in league scoring that year. Rockwood collected another 18 points in 19 games, leading Coquitlam to a Fred Page Cup championship.
Here he is scoring a sweet penalty shot goal for the Express.
He went on to two seasons at the University of Wisconsin, where struggled to find ice-time and an offensive role.
In the offseason he transferred to North Michigan University, where he has blossomed into one of the top players in NCAA hockey. As of this morning, the Coquitlam native sits 10th in Div-1 scoring with 37 points in 34 games. He is tied with Northeastern U’s Dylan Sikura for the most assists in the nation with 29.
There’s some good nuggets in the article, but my favourite is right off the top. Sometimes you have to let the photo develop.
A couple small notes to finish off.
A nice move by Langley as the Rivermen do their part to fight bullying. Check out an article by Troy Landreville of the Langley Times.
And if you were wondering what happened to a Saturday night BCHL match between Merritt and Salmon Arm, it was kiboshed by bad weather. It will be made up Thursday night with a 7 p.m. start in Merritt.
Eric Welsh is the sports editor at the Chilliwack Progress and has been covering junior A hockey in B.C. and Alberta since 2003.