Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Shaw, Walton Audio and More

Some audio reaction to the Andrew Walton trade between the Ghostriders and Leafs from last week.

For Leafs coach/GM Chris Shaw, click here.

For Walton, click here.

In Shaw's interview, he also makes mention of a separate deal that sees defenseman Branden Redschlag join the Leafs from the Kelowna Chiefs for future considerations. Redschlag is yet another former Penticton Laker (with whom Shaw was an assistant coach before taking the reins in Nelson).

Smokies Alumni: If you're in the Trail area next weekend, why not attend a terrific event in the Smoke Eaters alumni ALS dinner at the Riverbelle July 8th. Featured guests include Steve and Jeff Tambellini as well as Tom Renney, and the Smokies' annual golf tournament goes the next day at Birchbank. Visit Re/Max All Pro Realty in Trail for tickets or check out Trail's website.

Bits & Bites: The expansion Chase Heat have signed their first player. He is 16 year-old Revelstoke product Aiden Hooker. A pair of former NHLers have also joined the KIJHL coaching ranks this week: Robert Dirk in Penticton (release here), and Geoff Smith in Kamloops (release here).

Gone Fishing: Ok well not really, but I am taking the next few weeks off to tinker with the blog and more importantly, explore the Cariboo with my girlfriend and our rambunctious German Shepherd. Barring earth-shattering news, see you all in mid-July!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Former Rebels Goaltender Walton to Nelson

The Nelson Leafs have found their ace between the pipes.

Nelson has acquired Castlegar product, and longtime Rebel Andrew Walton from the Fernie Ghostriders for defenseman Braeden Hikichi and future considerations.

In Walton, Nelson gets a proven #1 goaltender: the 20 year-old showed time and time again during his 3 and a half years with the Rebels that he could steal a game if necessary. He's a 2-time divisional goaltender of the year (2009-10 in the Neil Murdoch division, 2010-11 in the Eddie Mountain), and of course was traded by the Rebels last December in the deal that saw Mike Wiest and Jamie Vlanich come to Castlegar.

In Hikichi, the Ghostriders get a power-play quarterback who can also log a ton of minutes on the back end. Nelson relied heavily on the 19 year-old last season when their blueline was decimated by injury.

As you might expect, Mountain FM and our Nelson sister station 103.5 the Bridge will have audio reaction tomorrow: Leafs head coach Chris Shaw has been out of town but was kind enough to inform me of the trade by phone this afternoon. As always, any and all audio will be posted here once it's aired on our stations.

Our friends in the Elk Valley at RiderNews have more on the deal here.

Bits & Bites: Fernie has acquired the man they feel could take over for Walton between the pipes, snagging 19 year-old Chris Solecki from the North Okanagan Knights. The Burns Lake product has a career 4.19 GAA in 55 appearance in Armstrong over the past two seasons. Revelstoke has named their new coach: he is Randy Quakenbush, who was an assistant with the Grizzlies last season. Former Castlegar coach Rylan Ferster stepped down as bench boss and GM last week. Stay tuned to Mountain FM/103.5 the Bridge as I've heard from multiple sources on another trade involving Nelson, though nothing has been confirmed by me with anybody yet.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Junker On KIJHL Rule Changes

The KIJHL will adopt a pair of new rules next season that have been a mainstay in the NHL since the lockout ended in 2005. Of note, players will be assessed a 2-minute delay of game penalty for shooting the puck out of play in the defensive zone, and teams will no longer be allowed to make line changes after icing the puck.

I chatted with Rebels head coach/GM Steve Junker this morning on the new regulations, take a listen here.

I've never been a big fan of the delay of game rule personally, and would love to see statistics on how many times an opposing team scored on a power-play resulting from a delay of game penalty in the NHL last season. Adding to that, a number of rinks in the KIJHL (I think of Beaver Valley specifically) have very low glass, which could result in an adverse number of penalties being called in some barns as opposed to Osoyoos' Sun Bowl Arena which has very high glass along the seated side. It'll be interesting to see how that plays out as the season progresses.

Our friends in Fernie have an interesting take on the Hockey Canada head-shot rule set to be implemented as well, read that here.

Bits & Bites: A pair of former KIJHLers are listed in the final NHL Central Scouting rankings ahead of the annual draft which begins Friday. Former Rebel Ryan Renz (BCHL Vernon) and former Nitehawk Joey Baker (BCHL Trail) will no doubt be watching their phones as the weekend progresses. With the addition of 2 new clubs in Chase and Summerland, it appears as though the KIJHL will play a 52-game regular season schedule, up from 50 in 2010-11. 32 of those games will be within the division.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Koshey, Adams Audio

As promised, some audio from the past week.

For Steve Koshey's thoughts on heading to Alabama-Huntsville, click here.

For former Canuck (and Nelson minor hockey grad) Greg Adams' take on Game 7 and Vancouver's Stanley Cup Playoff run, click here.

Bits & Bites: Former Rebels head coach Rylan Ferster has tendered his resignation in Revelstoke after one season. The Grizzlies reached the Okanagan Conference finals in 2010-11, and are expected to announce a new bench boss/GM soon. Former Beaver Valley Nitehawk Adam Deadmarsh has been promoted to assistant coach with the Colorado Avalanche. Deadmarsh's #12 hangs from the rafters of the Beaver Valley Arena, and of course he was a member of Colorado's 1996 Stanley Cup championship squad.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

(BCHL) Koshey to Alabama-Huntsville

Former Smoke Eater and Trail product Steve Koshey is on his way south, having accepted a scholarship to NCAA Div. I Alabama-Huntsville. Koshey spent 2 1/2 of his three BCHL seasons in Trail before being traded to the Surrey Eagles midway through last season.

The BCHL has a release here.

A couple of interesting sidenotes, though: UAH are set to host the 2012 Frozen Four tournament (albeit at a neutral site in Tampa, Florida), and Koshey's former Smokie teammate Graeme Strukoff will also don Charger colours next season.

As always, any and all audio reaction will be posted in short order.

Congrats Steve!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Heaven to Creston Valley

Former Rebels bench boss Brent Heaven has landed back in the KIJHL with the Creston Valley Thunder Cats. Heaven will assume the role of head coach and general manager after Joe Martin moved on to an assistant coaching gig with the BCHL's Merritt Centennials. The Thunder Cats have posted a release here.

Heaven posted an enviable 99-51-2-10 record during his three seasons at the helm in Castlegar, but his contract was not renewed following the club's first-round exit in 2010 at the hands of the Spokane Braves. He spent last season alongside former Leafs coach Simon Wheeldon with the major midget Kootenay Ice.

Heaven is now the second former Rebels coach to assume a similar role in the Eddie Mountain division, joining Fernie's Will Verner.

I hope to have some audio on Mountain FM and on this blog over the next day or so.

Best of luck in Creston Brent, hope to see you patrolling our local KIJHL rinks this winter.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

(BCHL) Birks, St. Denis, Wong Audio

As promised, some tape from some of the big players in yesterday's BCHL trade that sees Travis St. Denis head to Cowichan Valley for Chase Kaiser, Clayton Chessa and Nick Wong.

I chatted with Trail's head coach and GM Bill Birks early yesterday afternoon, have a listen here.

For St. Denis, click here.

For Wong, click here.

Of note to me, the partnership of Wong and Rajan Sidhu (himself a former Capital) could be one to watch on Trail's back end next season, and St. Denis' comment that he might head south in search of a championship in a different league. For that I guess we'll have to wait and see, but the local sniper would be the go-to guy for the Capitals if that's indeed where he ends up in September.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

(BCHL) St. Denis to Cowichan Valley

A blockbuster in the BCHL: Trail has shipped forward Travis St. Denis to the Cowichan Valley Capitals for forwards Chase Kaiser and Clayton Chessa as well as defenseman Nick Wong.

St. Denis scored 137 points during his three seasons in Trail, and already has an NCAA Div. I scholarship (Quinnipiac) in his back pocket. But according to head coach/GM Bill Birks, a change in scenery was something St. Denis asked for, and Birks seemed confident in my interview with him that he'd done well for his club by picking up three roster players rather than futures.

In Chessa, Wong, and Kaiser, the Smokies get themselves three veteran players capable of providing leadership. Wong alone has played 157 games in the BCHL with Cowichan Valley. Kaiser has played over 100 games with his hometown Caps while Chessa has also spent time with Surrey and Quesnel.

Mountain FM will have more on this deal as part of their sports coverage tomorrow, and I will post interviews with Birks, St. Denis and Wong at the earliest possible convenience.

Best of luck to Travis next season, and to Chase, Clayton and Nick, welcome to the West Kootenay.

*Author's Note: You might be wondering why a Rebels blog is discussing the Trail Smoke Eaters. Well, in short, it's because my role at Mountain FM has changed to the point where I'm able to provide a lot more of the sports content at the station, so watch for further changes to Off the Wahl as it develops more of a regional scope.

Sture Talks NAHL Draft, Wheeldon Talks Winnipeg

Two Neil Murdoch division players were taken in last week's NAHL draft, Beaver Valley defenseman Austin Sture by the Kenai River Brown Bears and Spokane forward Rance Hughes by the St. Louis Bandits.

I caught up with Sture over the weekend, have a listen to his thoughts on playing in his home state here. Of note, Trail defenseman Ben Matthews was also selected by the Brown Bears.

And amidst the euphoria emanating from Manitoba's capital yesterday, I chatted with former Nelson Leafs head coach Simon Wheeldon, who spent one season with the Winnipeg Jets and their AHL affiliate in Moncton, about his impression of Winnipeg hockey fans and his thoughts on the return of NHL hockey there. Listen here.

Bits & Bites: Merritt's blog has an interview up with Joe Martin, the Cents new assistant coach (and late of the Creston Valley Thunder Cats). Fernie's blogger tweeted this morning that head coach Will Verner (who was the subject of a nice piece in The Province over the weekend) will make a player announcement Friday. Beaver Valley d-man Taylor Love has committed to Coquitlam (BCHL) for next season.