Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Cunningham, MacLeod, Walker and Jones audio

Over the past few days, I've had a chance to catch up with all 4 West Kootenay players drafted by NHL teams over the weekend.

Vancouver Giants forward Craig Cunningham (Trail).

Penticton Vees defenceman Isaac MacLeod (Nelson).

Portland Winterhawks forward Luke Walker (Castlegar).

Vernon Vipers forward Kellen Jones (Montrose).

Saturday, June 26, 2010

4 West Kootenay Products Drafted

Congrats to Trail's Craig Cunningham, Nelson's Isaac MacLeod, and Castlegar's Luke Walker and Montrose's Kellen Jones on being selected in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft today.

Cunningham, a former Beaver Valley Nitehawk, went in the 4th round, 97th overall to the Boston Bruins. The Vancouver Giants winger notched 97 points (37-60) as a 19 year-old last season.

MacLeod, a former Nelson Leaf, was taken 136th overall by San Jose. He had 23 points (all assists) with the BCHL's Penticton Vees and will skate next season at Boston College.

Walker went 3 spots later to the Colorado Avalanche. The Portland Winterhawk forward made Team USA at last year's World Juniors in Saskatchewan. He scored 27 goals and 57 points in Portland and tallied a further 10 points in the playoffs before his team bowed out to Cunningham's Giants.

Jones, another former Nitehawk and Vernon Viper, was picked in the 7th round by Edmonton. He and brother Connor won back to back Royal Bank Cups with the Vipers in 2009 and 2010, and will attend Quinnipiac University in the fall.

I hope to have audio interviews up soon with all four players, and will be sure to chat to them on Mountain FM's Overtime, which I'm hosting for three days next week as my colleague Shawn Mullin heads away on a much-deserved vacation.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Ferster to the Grizzlies

Former Rebel head coach Rylan Ferster is the new bench boss of the defending KIJHL champion Revelstoke Grizzlies. He resigned from his post with the BCHL's Salmon Arm Silverbacks earlier this week. The official release on the Grizzlies website is available here. He takes over for Troy Mick, who stepped down to take a position with Kelowna's Pursuit of Excellence academy.

Bits & Bites: Shawn's blog has news of the passing of the coach of the 1961 Trail Smoke Eaters, as well as details on a blockbuster trade by the current incarnation of the club. Congratulations to Rebels anthem singer Mariah Morris for being named this year's Miss Castlegar. Castlegar's Scott Jago and Golden forward Travis Herlein committed to Castlegar's Selkirk College for next season. No doubt new assistant coach and recruiter Jamie Friess, who recently joined the Saints from Beaver Valley, helped the school snag both players. Of note, Friess' new boss Kim Verigin is also a former Nitehawk.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Rebels Retain Assistant Coaching Staff

News is out this morning the Rebels have reached an agreement with 3 assistant coaches for the upcoming season. Topher Plonka will stay on board for his fourth season behind the bench. Also staying on with the club is another former Rebel, Darcy Martini. They'll be joined by Bruno Tassone, who last year coached Castlegar's bantam rep team to a provincial title on home ice. I'm sure we'll hear more about their specific duties as the season approaches, but having chatted with Plonka prior to the announcement I'm sure he's thrilled to be back with the team. My colleague Shawn Mullin interviewed both him and head coach Steve Junker, expect to have the audio available on the web at some point soon for those who miss it on Overtime.

Bits & Bites: Fernie made a trade last week, acquiring goaltender Matthew Johnson from the PIJHL's Squamish Wolf Pack. Johnson had a record of 4-3 with a 5.62 GAA in 10 games with the 'Pack last season, but went 15-5 the year before with the Abbotsford Pilots. Revelstoke is expected to name Troy Mick's successor in the coming days. One wonders whether Rylan Ferster is in the mix, he stepped down as coach/GM of the BCHL's Salmon Arm Silverbacks yesterday. Discussions abound over possible changes to the way the KIJHL runs their webcasts. I should have more on this following next week's league AGM. Stay tuned for some Selkirk College tidbits as well.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Kelowna Good To Go/Fernie Trades Fridella

A day after their future was made uncertain, the Kelowna Chiefs are set to play out of the Rutland Arena. Reports swirled yesterday after word surfaced that Kelowna Rockets GM Bruce Hamilton hadn't officially given the team permission to play within city limits. That's all been put to bed now, according to Rockets play-by-play man Regan Bartel. Read more here, and note the caveat that gives Hamilton the power to gas the franchise on January 1st of each year if he's not satisfied with the way it's being run.

Fernie has re-worked a trade with the VIJHL's Kerry Park Islanders we first heard about at the end of April. They've sent Zach Fridella (26-13-39 in 49 games last season) to the VIJHL's Kerry Park Islanders. The original trade would have seen Kerry Park's Cole Peterson come to Fernie, but he has instead been sent to the VIJHL champion Peninsula Panthers, who then shipped 19 year-old Tyrell Turgeon to the Ghostriders in what now ends up being a three-team deal. Turgeon finished 7th in the VIJHL in scoring last season with 54 points (24-30). As always, our friends in the Elk Valley have more here.

An update on Troy Mick's departure from Revelstoke. I'd heard unconfirmed reports yesterday he was headed to Kelowna's Pursuit of Excellence academy, that's now been made official. He will serve as their Director of Hockey Operations.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Grizzlies Look To Replace Mick

As per the team's website, the Revelstoke Grizzlies are looking for a new coach and general manager. The defending KIJHL, Cyclone Taylor and Keystone Cup champs were coached by Troy Mick last season. Interesting to see who ends up in Revy, especially considering their application window is only until June 10th. More info available here.

Kelowna (nee Chase) has named their head coach, it's new part-owner Ken Andrusiak. He's a former assistant with the WHL's Prince Albert Raiders. Gregg Drinnan from Kamloops has more here, including the name of the newly-relocated franchise, which was reported in a Kelowna online news site Friday. Of note, Andrusiak's son Landon skates with the Nelson Leafs.

Not to devote myself to the newly-relocated club, but a story broke out of Kelowna last night claiming the Rockets still hadn't given the team permission to play next season within city limits. Read more here. Rockets president Bruce Hamilton was given veto power about the placement of any sports franchise in the city when the WHL club moved to the Okanagan from Tacoma. The earlier post by Gregg Drinnan I linked to also states the Rockets were given the right to place two 16 year-olds on the KIJHL team's roster as a condition of the move.

I also spoke to one of the people involved in a potential expansion team in Chase for 2011-12 over the weekend. He tells me the plan is for a community-owned team, with 11 members on a society to oversee things. The KIJHL has granted them opportunity to make a presentation on June 19th when the league holds its AGM at Talking Rock. The team, if granted, would have an entirely new identity (ie, wouldn't be called the Chiefs), and to keep interest up in the community, the group plans to host WHL and BCHL exhibition games at the Art Holding Arena next season. Barry Dewar, the owner of the Kamloops Storm, has also offered to play 4 or 5 home games in Chase next season if the expansion franchise is granted.