Thursday, July 29, 2010

Wheeldon Audio

As mentioned below, I interviewed new Kootenay Ice major midget coach Simon Wheeldon yesterday for Mountain FM. You can listen to the full interview here.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wheeldon Named Major Midget Ice Coach

Former Nelson coach Simon Wheeldon wasn't away from the bench for long. He's accepted the job as head coach of the major midget Kootenay Ice for the upcoming season. Wheeldon spent 5 seasons with the Leafs, stepping down at the end of the 2009-10 season.

Wheeldon told me this afternoon he had to make a quick decision about whether to take the job because the team was within days of folding. He said it took a long time for a coach to finally be chosen, but stressed it wasn't due to a lack of qualified applicants, saying "it's a big commitment, they play 40 games a year and 20 of those games on the road, and the nearest road trip is to the Okanagan."

He takes over from Brent Petrick, who guided the club to a franchise-record 11 wins last season. Wheeldon's son Adam was a member of that squad as well, scoring 6 points (1-5) as a 15 year-old.

Stay tuned to Mountain FM's Overtime and this blog for the full interview.

Bits & Bites: Ridernews has the latest on a couple of trades involving the Fernie Ghostriders, including one involving Trail native Jamie Vlanich, who's been moved from Golden to the Elk Valley. Vlanich had 24 points (7-17) and represented the Rockets in the KIJHL All-Star Game last year. They also picked up forward Mason Spear from Kimberley to complete an earlier trade.

Friday, July 23, 2010

2010-11 Rebels Schedule Released

Here it is, the 2010-2011 Castlegar Rebels schedule, hot off the press. With the addition of an 18th team in Osoyoos, it makes for a balanced schedule. The Rebels play each Neil Murdoch Division team 8 times (4 home, 4 away), every Eddie Mountain team twice (home and away), and every Okanagan team once, which means fans in Castlegar won't see North Okanagan, Osoyoos, Sicamous or the defending KIJHL champion Revelstoke Grizzlies this season.

Sep. 10 vs. NELSON
Sep. 11 @ Nelson
Sep. 14 vs. GRAND FORKS
Sep. 18 vs. PENTICTON
Sep. 26 @ Spokane
Sep. 28 vs. GRAND FORKS

Oct. 01 @ Beaver Valley
Oct. 02 vs. SPOKANE
Oct. 08 @ Creston Valley
Oct. 15 vs. NELSON
Oct. 16 @ Grand Forks
Oct. 22 vs. SPOKANE
Oct. 23 vs. FERNIE
Oct. 29 @ Fernie

Nov. 06 vs. KIMBERLEY
Nov. 07 vs. GOLDEN
Nov. 12 @ Grand Forks
Nov. 19 vs. KAMLOOPS
Nov. 26 @ Osoyoos
Nov. 27 @ Nelson

Dec. 03 vs. SPOKANE
Dec. 04 @ Beaver Valley
Dec. 07 vs. GRAND FORKS
Dec. 10 @ North Okanagan
Dec. 11 @ Sicamous
Dec. 12 @ Revelstoke
Dec. 17 vs. SPOKANE
Dec. 18 @ Spokane
Dec. 29 vs. NELSON

Jan. 02 @ Beaver Valley
Jan. 04 @ Grand Forks
Jan. 07 @ Golden
Jan. 08 @ Columbia Valley
Jan. 15 All-Star Game @ Fernie
Jan. 18 vs. GRAND FORKS
Jan. 21 @ Spokane
Jan. 22 vs. KELOWNA
Jan. 25 @ Nelson
Jan. 28 @ Kimberley
Jan. 29 vs. PRINCETON
Jan. 30 @ Spokane

Feb. 04 @ Nelson
Feb. 05 vs. NELSON
Feb. 09 @ Grand Forks
Feb. 12 @ Beaver Valley

Bits & Bites: The league will hold 5 neutral-site games this season, highlighted by the Nelson Leafs and Creston Valley Thunder Cats wrapping up the campaign in Whitehorse (Creston and Fernie played there last year, and Thunder Cats coach Joe Martin is from the Yukon). I spoke with Castlegar's recreation manager Jim Crockett this week. He says the proposal for the Complex upgrades include improvements to the seating area and acoustics in the existing rink, in addition to the construction of a second sheet of ice. More on this story in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

New Arena in Castlegar's Future?

At a council meeting last night, the City of Castlegar directed the Regional District of Central Kootenay to draft a bylaw asking for a loan of up to $25 million to fund upgrades to the Recreation Complex. Part of the upgrades would involve a new sheet of ice being placed adjacent to the existing rink, in effect replacing Pioneer Arena which council believes has run its course.

The bylaw will be presented at the RDCK meeting on July 29th in Nelson, at which point it will be decided if a referendum will be held, meaning Castlegar and area residents will decide whether or not they think an expensive upgrade to the facility (which also includes changes to the aquatic centre, seniors' centre and meeting rooms) is worth it. Early indications are a referendum could come as soon as November, with completion of the multi-million dollar project a few years down the road.

I had a chance to chat with city councillor Kirk Duff following the meeting last night, you can hear that interview here.

Stay tuned to Mountain FM and this blog for more perspective on the issue, including what it could mean for the Rebels.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Schedule Out Soon? + Fernie/Creston Trade

With opening night of the 2010-11 KIJHL season less than 2 months away, one might wonder when the league will release its schedule. I'm told it will happen in the next week or two, but the Kelowna Chiefs have decided to jump the gun by posting their sked on their website on Friday (for the record, they play the Rebels once, January 22nd in Castlegar).

The Rebels will open the new season with a home and home against the Nelson Leafs on September 10th and 11th, and once everything else is finalized, I will post the entire schedule here (plus news of a possible quirk to this year's Leafs schedule as well).

Bits & Bites: I had a brief chat with Darren Tarasoff over the weekend, he says he's planning on returning to Castlegar for his overage season. Our friends at Ridernews have the details on a trade this past weekend that sees Fernie pick up 1992 forward Sean Maktaak from Creston Valley. The move is considered the future considerations Fernie was promised in the Steven Casselman trade last season.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Coaching Shuffle in Kamloops

The Kamloops Storm became the 8th KIJHL team to make an off-season coaching change when they announced today that Greg Hawgood will not be back behind the bench next season. This, according to the release on the KIJHL website, is so he can spend more time with his family.

Hawgood's co-coach from 2009-10, Tyler Liebel, an Osoyoos native, will be the main bench boss. As a player, Liebel was a co-winner of the BCHL Coastal Conference Rookie of the Year with the Burnaby Bulldogs in 1999 (an award he shared with, trivia fans, Ryan Hollweg).

The Storm join the Rebels, Leafs, Dynamiters, Rockets, Lakers, Chiefs and Grizzlies as all having made changes behind the bench since the 2009-10 season ended.

Bits & Bites: A bit late, but 2 deals to report. Grand Forks traded forward Chris Vinette (13-16-29 in 50 games as a 17 year-old in 2009-10) to the PIJHL's Abbotsford Pilots. The Bruins receive future considerations in return. Vinette, for my money, was one of a number of young players with the Border Bruins last year who should improve by leaps and bounds this winter. Creston Valley has found themselves a potential replacement for graduating goalie Sunny Gill. They acquired 19 year-old Lukas Simpson from the VIJHL's Peninsula Panthers in a deal that completes the earlier Joe Densmore trade. Simpson had a 1.92 GAA and .933 save percentage in 19 games with the Panthers last season.

Monday, July 5, 2010

NCAA Scholly for Former Rebel

Castlegar's Ryan Renz, who spent the first half of last season on the Rebels' blueline, has committed to Northeastern University for the 2011-12 season. The news caps off an impressive 16 year-old season for Renz, who was referred to as "possibly the hardest hitter in the KIJHL, even as a 16 year-old" by Rebel president Jim Craig last year.

Renz spent the last half of the 2009-10 season with the BCHL's Alberni Valley Bulldogs, with whom he'll suit up again for the upcoming season. Local hockey fans will only get one look at Renz next season, the Bulldogs visit the Trail Smoke Eaters on October 20th.

Congrats to Renz and his family!