Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Fyffe Tabbed By League

Eagles forward Mitch Fyffe picked up an honourable mention for BCHL Player of the Week today after scoring two goals and three points this past weekend against Chilliwack.

It's a well-deserved honour for the three-year vet. His contributions on the ice go far beyond the points he has put up on the scoreboard, with steady commitment to defensive-zone coverage and skills in the faceoff circle among Fyffe's talents.

Congrats Fyffer, and keep up the good work.

The full release from the team follows:

The Surrey Eagles would like to congratulate forward Mitch Fyffe on being awarded an honourable mention for BCHL Player of the Week Tuesday.

Fyffe, a native of New Westminster, led all Eagles scorers with two goals and an assist in a pair of defeats this past weekend. In 36 appearances this season, the 19 year-old has compiled 7 goals and 11 points, with five of his goals this season coming away from home.

Fyffe also skated in his 150th BCHL regular-season game on December 28th, 115 of which were played from 2010-2013 with the Coquitlam Express.

This week's Player of the Week is Fyffe's former Express teammate Marc Biega.

The Eagles would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year. Surrey returns to the South Surrey Arena on Friday, January 3rd to host the Cowichan Valley Capitals. Game time is 7:00 pm.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Weekend Audio

If you missed it on either Saturday or Sunday's broadcasts, here is some tape for your listening pleasure.


I chatted with forward Mitch Fyffe before Saturday's home game against Chilliwack. That contest marked Fyffe's 150th BCHL regular-season appearance. To hear his thoughts on that and more, click here.

Fellow forward Joe Drapluk joined me Sunday. Hear that interview by clicking here.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Chiefs 5 Eagles 2

A trio of first-period goals spurred the Chilliwack Chiefs on to a 5-2 victory over the Eagles at Prospera Centre Sunday.

Ben Butcher scored a pair, and Chiefs netminder Spencer Tremblay turned in a 37-save performance to help Chilliwack to its second victory over Surrey in as many days.

Chilliwack started early, with Butcher cashing in on a close-range backhander at the 6:16 mark, but the Eagles found an equalizer less than two minutes later when Mitch Fyffe snapped home a shot from the left circle for his second goal in as many nights.

Butcher scored again moments later after a rebound fell onto his stick at the bottom of the left-wing circle. Less than two minutes after that, the Chiefs found a two-goal lead when Mathieu Tibbet strode down the right wing and snapped a low shot that snuck through Eagle netminder Bo Didur's pads.

The Eagles crept back to within a goal early in period two, however. Matt Dawson sizzled a shot goalward that was deflected through Tremblay's legs by fellow rookie Darius Davidson.

But less than a minute later, the Chiefs struck back. Veteran Tanner Cochrane worked his way out of a pileup behind the Surrey net and backhanded home his second goal in as many games from just outside the blue paint. Cooper Rush added a fifth late in the frame on a Chilliwack odd-man rush.

Devon Fordyce replaced Didur to start period three and stopped all nine shots he faced, but Tremblay endured a busier final frame, thwarting Surrey on all 17 shots they sent his way to record his fourth win of the season.

My Three Stars:
1. Spencer Tremblay, Chilliwack
2. Ben Butcher, Chilliwack
3. Tanner Cochrane, Chilliwack

Up Next: Surrey will ring in 2014 with a home date against the Cowichan Valley Capitals on Friday. Game time is 7:00 at South Surrey Arena.

Gameday: Eagles @ Chiefs

Who: Surrey Eagles @ Chilliwack Chiefs
When: December 29, 5:00 pm
Where: Prospera Centre

Pay-Per-View: FAST Hockey
Radio: Ustream

Surrey aims to bounce back in a Sunday evening rematch against the Chiefs in Chilliwack. After a flying start, Chilliwack found three second-period goals en route to a 5-3 win at South Surrey Arena last night, the Eagles' first home loss since Remembrance Day.

The Eagles have yet to win this season at Prospera Centre, dropping 3-2 and 6-4 decisions earlier this season. Peter Schaefer's squad will certainly shake off those earlier setbacks, though, with an interest on rejuvenating an away form that has netted only three victories since the end of September.

Up front, Nic Pierog rides a five-game goal-scoring streak after his first-period tally yesterday. Pierog leads the club with 24 goals, 16 of which have come on home ice.

Last Meeting: Chilliwack's victory last night means they now lead the season series 3-1. Yesterday's game was the first in the four previous meetings in which the visiting team won.

Our Opponent: The Chiefs go into tonight's game with a chance to collect their tenth victory of the season, and part of their success Saturday was certainly attributable to both goaltending and timely goals from more than the top line of Austin Plevy, Mathieu Tibbet and Tanner Cochrane. Netminder Spencer Tremblay was strong, especially in the first period where he made nine saves as the Eagles pressed early. Chilliwack's penalty-kill this season is eight percentage points higher away from home (83%) than at Prospera Centre (75%).

In the Press Box: Neither side has any listed injuries.

Chiefs 5 Eagles 3


Austin Plevy's power-play goal 2:53 into the third period stood up as the winner as the Chilliwack Chiefs defeated the Eagles 5-3 in Surrey Saturday.

Plevy banked a hard centring pass off an Eagle into the Surrey net to, at the time, give the Chiefs a 4-1 lead as Chilliwack withstood a late charge to earn their third win over Surrey in four tries.

Saturday's game could well have gone the other way, though. The Eagles were rampant in period one, scoring once through Nic Pierog and coming close on a number of other occasions to take a 1-0 lead into the intermission. Goaltender Devon Fordyce had to be strong, too, at the other end notably robbing Plevy on a one-time chance late in the frame.

But the Chiefs used the first intermission to their advantage and found a pair of timely goals early in the second period. First, Jaret Babych snuck a shot into the top corner from close range, then Kurt Black tapped home a rebound effort just over a minute later.

After both Pierog and Philippe Johansson hit posts, the Chiefs found a third goal from Blake Gober 1:44 before the end of period two, when the Chilliwack forward stole a puck inside the Surrey line and danced to the front of the net, beating Fordyce with a forehand effort.

Plevy's goal added to the Chiefs lead early in period three before Braeden Russell got the Eagles back on the board just shy of the ten-minute mark.

Chilliwack's Tanner Cochrane converted a Plevy feed with just under four minutes left to restore the Chiefs' 3-goal lead, until Surrey's Mitch Fyffe rounded out the scoring with a snapper over goaltender Spencer Tremblay's shoulder from close range.

The loss was Surrey's first at home since November 11th and snapped a three-game winning streak. Chilliwack earned their second successive victory, and Tremblay his first win in goal in over a month.

My Three Stars:
1. Austin Plevy, Chilliwack
2. Nic Pierog, Surrey
3. Tanner Cochrane, Chilliwack

Up Next: The two sides meet again Sunday evening in Chilliwack. Game time is 5:00 pm at Prospera Centre.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Gameday: Eagles vs. Chiefs

Who: Surrey Eagles vs. Chilliwack Chiefs
When: December 28, 7:00 pm
Where: South Surrey Arena

TICKETS: surreyeagles.ca
Pay-Per-View: FAST Hockey
Radio: Ustream

The second half of the 2013-14 Surrey Eagles season begins in earnest tonight with the first of six post-holiday meetings with the Chilliwack Chiefs. The Eagles went into the break in terrific home form with five straight wins here at South Surrey Arena, most recently a 5-3 triumph over Prince George that was accentuated by a two-goal effort from Braedan Russell.

The Eagles come into play fourteen points ahead of Chilliwack for the final playoff spot in the Mainland division, but will surely not take tonight's guests lightly. Two of the three meetings this season have been decided by a goal, with the home side winning on both occasions.

Surrey will also be mindful of the upcoming schedule and will certainly want to collect positive momentum from their final home game of 2013. The Eagles visit each of their Mainland rivals at least once between now and the end of January and will play seven of their next ten games away from South Surrey Arena.

Look for overager Nic Pierog to continue his recent string of success tonight against the Chiefs. The 20 year-old has scored in each of the last two clashes between Surrey and Chilliwack, and has goals in his last four games overall.

Last Meeting: The two sides haven't met since a high-scoring home-and-home series split in early November, Chilliwack winning the back end 6-4 on November 9th. The Chiefs lead the season series 2-1.

Our Opponent: Chilliwack went into the holiday break with an emphatic 13-5 home win over the Trail Smoke Eaters last Saturday night, with Mathieu Tibbet leading the way with 4 goals. Merrimack commit Austin Plevy leads the offense with 42 points, while 17 year-old Kamloops product Carter Cochrane leads all 1996-born BCHLers with 30 points and sits second in Chiefs scoring. Chilliwack, though, have allowed a league-high 174 goals this season.

In the Press Box: Neither side has any listed injuries.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Eagles 5 Spruce Kings 3


Nathan Renouf's third-period goal stood up as the game-winner as the Eagles won their fifth straight home game, 5-3 over Prince George Thursday.

Renouf accepted a left-wing feed from twin brother Jonah, unleashing a hard snapper into the top right corner for his seventh goal of the season, and third game-winner.

Surrey, playing its final game prior to the holiday break, endured a cagey, scoreless opening frame that was highlighted by a mid-period scrap between Braedan Russell and Marco Ballarin. Russell took offense to a hard hit on linemate Luke Sandler, and the pair wrestled before each combatant landed one late blow on their way to the ice.

Brett Mulcahy opened the scoring early in period two, redirecting a hard centring feed from Colton Mackie past Spruce Kings starter Jesse Jenks from just outside the crease. Russell doubled the Surrey lead later in the frame on a power-play, taking advantage of a Sandler drop pass in the high slot and wiring a wrist shot past Jenks' glove hand.

The Spruce Kings found the scoreboard 1:28 after Russell's goal through Jake LeBrun, who found a loose puck at the feet of Surrey netminder Bo Didur and poked the rebound past his outstretched left pad. The one-goal differential wouldn't last long, though, as Russell put home his second of the game on another hard wrist shot after cutting across the Prince George defensive zone.

The visitors would round out the scoring in a busy second period 1:18 from the break, again by capitalizing on a loose puck near the net. Jeremiah Luedtke swept in from the left circle and bashed home his ninth goal of the season to make the score 3-2 Surrey after fourty minutes.

The Eagles found their fourth tally through Renouf 2:17 into the third before Mitch Eden hammered a dump-in off a left-wing stanchion less than a minute later, causing the puck to carom wildly from the boards through the left-wing circle, and past a perplexed Didur.

But like Saturday's win against Nanaimo, the Eagles locked down their defensive zone in period three, thanks in part to nine saves from the 16 year-old goaltender, before Nic Pierog secured the two points with an empty-net goal in the dying seconds.

Surrey's penalty-kill was put to the test Thursday too, but passed with flying colours, holding Prince George off the scoresheet on six power-play opportunities.

Didur made 25 stops to record his second home-ice win in just his third start at South Surrey Arena, while Jenks was tagged with the loss. With the win, Surrey moves to within two points of the third-place Coquitlam Express, who are in action Friday.

My Three Stars
1. Braedan Russell, Surrey
2. Jeremiah Luedtke, Prince George
3. Nathan Renouf, Surrey

Up Next: The Eagles will break camp for a week, and return to action next Saturday, December 28th against the Chilliwack Chiefs. Game time is 7:00 pm at South Surrey Arena.

Thursday Audio: If you missed it on the show tonight, click here for a conversation with blueliner Kale Bennett.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Gameday: Eagles vs. Spruce Kings

Who: Surrey Eagles vs. Prince George Spruce Kings
When: December 19, 7:00 pm
Where: South Surrey Arena

TICKETS: surreyeagles.ca
Pay-Per-View: FAST Hockey
Radio: Ustream

Surrey goes in search of its fifth consecutive home win tonight in the pre-holiday finale against Prince George. The Eagles posted victories on home ice Saturday and Sunday, the latter a dramatic 5-4 overtime victory against Coquitlam that saw leading scorer Jonah Renouf snap a three-game pointless streak with a pretty extra-time winner.

Tonight, the Eagles will place great importance on focus: with a week-long layoff just a day away, Surrey will have to remain intent on securing two points against a speedy, physical Spruce Kings squad.

Watch for forward Danton Heinen to have an extra hop in his step tonight. The 18 year-old earned an honourable mention for BCHL Player of the Week Monday, and thanks to a terrific November and December, the Langley product now leads the Eagles in scoring at home with 11 goals and 21 points.

Last Meeting: Jonah Renouf's winner 1:08 from the end of the third period helped Surrey to a 2-1 win at the Coliseum November 16th. The season series is even through five meetings with each team holding a 2-2-1 record.

Our Opponent: The Spruce Kings return to the Lower Mainland on the heels of a two-game sweep against the Chilliwack Chiefs, their most recent game being an 8-5 win Monday night. Prince George could move back into a share of the Mainland division lead with wins tonight and tomorrow (at Chilliwack); you can bet Dave Dupas' squad will be itching to head out on their holiday break on a high note. Prince George likes to activate their blue line. Four Spruce Kings defensemen have 17 or more points, with 20 year-old Christian Weidauer leading the way with 31.

In the Press Box: Neither side has any listed injuries.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Heinen Snags Honourable Mention

The BCHL league office announced tonight that Eagles forward Danton Heinen has picked up an honourable mention in the Player of the Week awards.

Heinen has been on fire lately for Surrey, scoring the winner against Nanaimo Saturday and rifling a shot into the top corner of the net in yesterday's second period. With 8 goals in his last nine games, the 18 year-old now has 16 on the year, good for second among rookies in the BCHL.

The full release from the team follows:

Surrey Eagles forward Danton Heinen was awarded an honourable mention Monday for Gongshow Gear BCHL Player of the Week.

Heinen, 18, scored 2 goals, including a game-winner Saturday, and two assists in the Eagles' two home-ice victories this past weekend.

In his last 9 games, the Langley product has scored 8 times, totalling 14 points. He leads the Eagles in home-ice scoring with 21 points from 16 games played.

This week's Player of the Week is Landon Smith of Salmon Arm.

Heinen and the Eagles return to action Thursday, December 19th when they host the Prince George Spruce Kings at 7:00 pm at South Surrey Arena. For ticket information, call (604) 531-GOAL (4625) or purchase tickets online at www.surreyeagles.ca.

Sunday Audio


For your listening pleasure, here are a pair of interviews which ran during our broadcast of yesterday's 5-4 overtime win over the Coquitlam Express.

For my pre-game chat with assistant coach Danny Falso, click here.

For my first intermission feature with Nic Pierog, click here

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Eagles 5 Express 4 (OT)

Jonah Renouf's flashy 3-on-3 overtime winner lifted the Eagles to a 5-4 home-ice victory over the Coquitlam Express Sunday.

Renouf collected the puck in neutral ice, then on an odd-man rush from the left wing crossed across the offensive zone, outwaiting netminder Gordie Defiel before back-handing a shot into the open net to help Surrey to their fourth consecutive home win.

Sunday's game had flashes of the offensive explosions that typified the two sides' late November home-and-home set, but it took a while for both teams to find their firepower.

Surrey opened the scoring at the tail end of a two-man advantage when Joseph Drapluk lifted home a shot over Defiel's shoulder from the bottom of the right-wing circle. Coquitlamtied the game minutes later when blueliner Cameron Marks cut goalward and redirected a hard pass from Adam Rockwood behind Eagles goaltender Devon Fordyce.

The Eagles took advantage of a miscue early in the second period. A pass toward Brett Mulcahy glanced off his stick at the Express line, then rolled in towards Defiel, who mishandled the puck in his crease allowing the Eagles captain to poke home his second goal of the weekend. Danton Heinen snapped home a sharp wrister 1:17 later to give the Eagles a 3-1 lead, the largest lead either side enjoyed in the game.

Coquitlam clawed back to level the score at 3-3, first when Jackson Cressey tipped in a shot from just outside the crease, then later on a short-handed breakaway from Corey Mackin.

Mackin would add a second goal on a 2-on-1 before Nic Pierog backhanded a high shot into the top corner with time winding down in the period.

Neither side was able to find an advantage in the third period, despite the Eagles enjoying a 10-6 shot advantage, setting the stage for Renouf's extra-time heroics.

Fordyce stopped 29 shots to record his second straight win as the Eagles moved to within four points of the third-place Express.

My Three Stars:
1. Danton Heinen, Surrey
2. Corey Mackin, Coquitlam
3. Brian Drapluk, Surrey

Up Next: Surrey has one game remaining before the holiday break, Thursday at home against the Prince George Spruce Kings. Game time is 7:00 pm.

Gameday: Eagles vs. Express

Who: Surrey Eagles vs. Coquitlam Express
When: December 15, 4:00 pm
Where: South Surrey Arena

TICKETS: surreyeagles.ca
Pay-Per-View: FAST Hockey
Radio: Ustream

The Eagles could earn a four-point weekend with a victory against their division rivals from Coquitlam this afternoon at South Surrey Arena. The Eagles put together a strong team effort in Saturday's 3-1 victory over the Nanaimo Clippers, and got a late go-ahead goal from Danton Heinen and three-point effort from Nic Pierog to run their current home winning streak to three games.

Even more impressive was the Eagles defensive commitment Saturday. Devon Fordyce was strong in a 35-save effort but was the beneficiary of hard work in front of him. Many of Nanaimo's 36 shots were swallowed up by the 19 year-old Cochrane, Alberta product, who earned his sixth win as an Eagle Saturday.

I also thought Philippe Johansson in particular put together a stellar effort on Surrey's back end, standing up Clipper forwards and refusing to give up on the play if caught up-ice.

If past history is any indication, offense could be plentiful Sunday. The last two meetings alone saw Surrey and Coquitlam combine for 27 goals. Each team's strength lies with their respective forward group, and on the big ice at South Surrey Arena that could well result in a bevy of offensive opportunities.

Last Meeting: A wild encounter in Coquitlam saw the Express come away winners 9-6 on November 29th thanks in part to a hat-trick from Joey Santucci. Braedan Russell had a hat-trick of his own for the Eagles. Coquitlam leads the season series 4-2.

Our Opponent: Coquitlam is coming off a 6-3 home loss to the Nanaimo Clippers Friday night and will be eager to ward off the Eagles, who with a win today could climb back to within three points of the third-place Express. Second-year forward Adam Rockwood is the centrepiece on a flashy top six, though only 8 of his team-leading 41 points have been goals (he has 13 points against Surrey this season, leading all scorers in the series thus far). Barry Wolff's squad is the second highest-scoring team in the BCHL with 127 goals for; only the Penticton Vees have scored more. 20 year-old Gordie Defiel has been the goaltender of record in five of the six previous meetings, posting a 3-2 record.

In the Press Box: Neither side has any listed injuries.

Saturday Audio: If you missed it on last night's show, click here for a conversation with defenseman Brian Drapluk.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Eagles 3 Clippers 1

A terrific solo effort from Danton Heinen 2:49 from the end of regulation time helped the Eagles to a 3-1 home-ice victory over the Nanaimo Clippers Saturday in Surrey.

Heinen received a bank pass down the left wing, then cut around a Nanaimo defenseman before tucking a back-hander past Clippers goalie Jayson Argue for his fifteenth goal of the season, and third game-winner.

After a disappointing start to the weekend Friday, the Eagles flew out of the gate Saturday, peppering Argue with 16 shots. The Nanaimo netminder was strong, foiling the likes of Luke Sandler and Nathan Renouf from point-blank range in the opening frame.

Surrey found their breakthrough just past the midway mark of the second period, when on a power-play Nic Pierog rifled home a snapper past Argue's blocker.

The guests, though, found their legs in period two, outshooting Surrey 19-6 and finding an equalizer with 1:09 left in the frame when Edwin Hookenson's point shot caromed off two skates in the slot, catching Eagles starter Devon Fordyce by surprise.

Fordyce put in a strong effort Saturday, but was aided by a very workmanlike sixty minutes from the skaters in front of him, too. At the other end, Argue was unbeatable, until Heinen found the Eagles' go-ahead goal late in period three.

Pierog added an empty-netter in the dying moments.

Fordyce, making his first start in four games, stopped 35 of 36 Clipper shots to earn the victory.

My Three Stars:
1. Nic Pierog, Surrey
2. Jayson Argue, Nanaimo
3. Devon Fordyce, Surrey

Up Next: The Eagles wind down the weekend Sunday with a divisional matchup at home against the Coquitlam Express. Game time is 4:00 pm. Join the team for a Sunday Skate following the game!

Nathan Renouf on BCHL This Week

Eagles forward Nathan Renouf was featured in this week's episode of Subway BCHL This Week, a feature that airs every Saturday morning at 9:30 on TEAM 1410 radio in Vancouver.

If you watched or listened to last night's game in Langley, you may have heard our conversation in the first intermission. If you missed it, click here to hear it in its entirety.

Gameday: Eagles vs. Clippers

Who: Surrey Eagles vs. Nanaimo Clippers
When: December 14, 7:00 pm
Where: South Surrey Arena

TICKETS: surreyeagles.ca
Pay-Per-View: FAST Hockey
Radio: Ustream

After a letdown in Langley Friday, the Eagles return home Saturday to host the Nanaimo Clippers in their only visit to South Surrey Arena this regular season. Surrey surrendered three short-handed goals in last night's 5-2 setback at Langley Events Centre in a physical affair, but bring a home form into tonight's fixture that has seen the team lose just once at South Surrey Arena since November 1st.

Brett Mulcahy marked his return to the lineup with a power-play goal last night and became the first Eagle to reach 20 tallies this season. Fellow veteran Nic Pierog is close behind; his penalty-shot marker last night puts him at 19 on the campaign.

Mulcahy's return coincided with that of Colton Mackie, who missed the last eight games. The local product was unlucky not to have scored Friday on a pair of clear-cut chances early in the second period.

Last Meeting: Tonight marks the first meeting betwen Surrey and Nanaimo since the Western Canada Cup. The Eagles came away victors April 30th at Frank Crane Arena, winning 4-0 on the strength of two Drew Best goals and a 31-save shutout from Michael Santaguida.

Our Opponent: The Clippers started their Mainland road swing on the right foot Friday, winning 6-3 in Coquitlam. Nanaimo (17-16-0-1) is entrenched in third place in the Island division, twelve points behind second-place Victoria and 8 points up on the fourth-place Cowichan Valley Capitals. Nanaimo boasts five skaters with 10 or more goals; Devin Brosseau and Bo Brauer lead the charge with 13 each. 20 year-old Jayson Argue has played the majority of minutes in goal and last month earned himself a commitment to Bentley University.

In the Press Box
: Neither side has any listed injuries.

Rivermen 5 Eagles 2

 Three short-handed goals helped the Langley Rivermen earn a 5-2 victory over the Surrey Eagles Friday at Langley Events Centre.

The home side scored four times in the second period to pick up their fifth straight victory over the Eagles, and send Surrey along to their second consecutive away defeat.

The two sides battled through an edgy, yet scoreless first period, with both teams renewing the hostilities shown during the last meeting on Remembrance Day.

Langley would open the scoring just shy of the eight-minute mark of period two on a power-play, when Matt Ustaski unleashed a one-timer over the shoulder of Eagles netminder Bo Didur from the low slot for the first of his two tallies on the night.

Langley would add a second goal while short-handed three-and-a-half minutes later when Mitch McLain was sprung loose on a breakaway on a long pass from blueliner Zach Urban. McLain faked forehand, and lifted a backhand shot over Didur for his 15th goal of the season.

Gage Torrel tipped home a point shot just over a minute after McLain's marker, before the Eagles were involved in a potentially controversial play in front of Rivermen keeper Brock Crossthwaite.

Surrey's Luke Sandler thought he'd scored when depositing a rebound into the open cage at 14:58, but the goal was immediately waved off by referee Duncan Brow for what was initially termed goaltender interference. Upon further review, it was determined Crossthwaite was knocked over by a sliding back-checker and the Eagles were awarded a penalty shot. Nic Pierog then rifled home a snapper into the top left corner of the net on the free breakaway to put Surrey on the board.

The Rivermen would strike again before period's end, again while short-handed. On an odd-man rush, Ustaski finished off a cross-crease pass from McLain to put Langley up 4-1 after two periods.

Surrey would mount a late comeback after being awarded a five-minute power-play after Langley's Jakob Reichert was ejected for a high hit on Eagles veteran Braedan Russell. The visitors, who welcomed back captain Brett Mulcahy and fellow 20 year-old Colton Mackie after both had been sidelined with injuries, found a power-play marker when Mulcahy's shot from in tight snuck through Crossthwaite.

Langley would restore their three-goal lead later in the Eagles man-advantage when Austin Azurdia chipped past a Surrey defender and slid the puck into the empty net.

Surrey outshot Langley 28-26 on the night, but dropped their third straight decision at Langley Events Centre this season.

My Three Stars:
1. Matt Ustaski, Langley
2. Mitch McLain, Langley
3. Nic Pierog, Surrey

Up Next: The Eagles return home Saturday to face the Nanaimo Clippers at South Surrey Arena. Game time is 7:00 pm.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Gameday: Eagles @ Rivermen

Who: Surrey Eagles @ Langley Rivermen
When: December 13, 7:15 pm
Where: Langley Events Centre

Pay-Per-View: FAST Hockey
Radio: Ustream

The Eagles look to reap the rewards of a hard-working week of practice as they kick off a three-game weekend Friday in Langley. Surrey, idle since last Saturday's loss in Penticton, went through several up-tempo practices in advance of crucial divisional matchups against the Rivermen and Express this weekend, split with the lone visit of the Nanaimo Clippers Saturday.

Friday, Surrey faces the division leaders with an eye on recapturing their offensive flair. The Eagles have been limited to one goal in each of the last three meetings with Langley, despite being the second highest-scoring team in the Mainland division. Red-hot Danton Heinen, who scored three times last weekend, leads a voracious second line with points in each of his last six games and nine of the past ten overall.

At the other end of the ice, Surrey could well hand a start to Devon Fordyce between the pipes after rookie Bo Didur carried the load in the Interior last weekend. Fordyce and Didur have played only two of the five meetings between the Eagles and Rivermen this season.

Both sides will remember the last meeting's extracurricular activities, too, notably a late first-period set-to that netted suspensions and a heap of penalty minutes. The Mainland division boasts the top two teams in terms of times short-handed (Chilliwack and Langley, Surrey is twelfth). Don't be surprised to see both clubs' special-teams put to work Friday.

Last Meeting: The Rivermen took home a 2-1 victory through a Marcus Vela game-winner in a physical Remembrance Day matinee on November 11th. Langley has won the last four meetings between the two sides and leads the season series 4-1.

Our Opponent: The first-place Rivermen will surely be looking to increase the three-point gap between themselves and second-place Prince George before the holiday break. The first Mainland team to reach 20 wins, Langley is led offensively by captain Mitch McLain (14-18-32), while former Coquitlam set-up man Will Cook sits second in team scoring four points back (Cook, by the way, leads all scorers in the Surrey/Langley season series with 7 points). Head coach Bobby Henderson re-jigged his goaltending tandem recently, picking up former Chiefs and Smoke Eaters netminder Lyndon Stanwood at the December 1st deadline. Stanwood beat his former Trail mates in his Rivermen debut last Friday.

In the Press Box: Neither side has any listed injuries.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Vees 7 Eagles 1

The Penticton Vees got goals from six different players, and Olivier Mantha made 31 saves to backstop his side to a 7-1 victory over the Surrey Eagles Saturday.

The home side took advantage of bounces in the offensive zone, and locked things down defensively as the Eagles return home from the Okanagan with a weekend split.

Penticton opened the scoring 8 minutes into the game when Ben Dalpe put home a rebound from the right circle. Captain, and leading scorer Brad McClure put the hosts up 2-0 toward the end of the period, rifling a cross-zone one-timer on a Vees power-play.

Penticton added three goals in the second period, all from point shots that were redirected in front of Surrey starter Bo Didur. First, Blake Butzow scored his first goal in the league, before Didur's former major midget team-mate Anthony Conti and blueliner Brett Beauvais added middle-frame markers to put Penticton up 5-0 after 40 minutes.

Matthew Serratore put the Vees up 6-0 shortly after a Surrey penalty-kill early in period three, converting a cross-crease feed from linemate Jack Ramsey at the right post.

Surrey's Danton Heinen broke Mantha's shutout bid later in the period, tapping a rebound through the Penticton goaltender's legs after an inital save on Joseph Drapluk.

McClure rounded out the scoring in the dying minutes on a sharp wrist-shot from the slot, as the Vees won the first meeting between the two sides since the 2013 Fred Page Cup final.

My Three Stars:
1. Brad McClure, Penticton
2. Olivier Mantha, Penticton
3. Ben Dalpe, Penticton

Up Next
: Surrey is idle until Friday, December 13th when they pay a visit to the Langley Rivermen.

Saturday Audio: Click here to hear my conversation with defenseman Matt Dawson, which aired in tonight's first intermission.

Gameday: Eagles @ Vees

Who: Surrey Eagles @ Penticton Vees
When: December 7, 6:00 pm
Where: South Okanagan Events Centre

Pay-Per-View: FAST Hockey
Radio: Ustream

The Eagles and Vees meet tonight for the first time since Surrey claimed the Fred Page Cup in the South Okanagan this past April. Many of the contestants in that BCHL final series have moved on, but there's no question Saturday's matchup will bring back memories of Surrey's fifth league championship.

Both teams come in having won on the road Friday, Surrey doing so in dramatic fashion in West Kelowna. After trailing 3-1 in the third period, the Eagles' offense clicked three times inside five minutes to earn a 4-3 victory at Royal Lepage Place. Luke Sandler's rebound effort 4:28 from the end of regulation proved to be the difference as the Eagles won their third game in four outings.

The young Eagles will take real confidence in limiting a high-scoring West Kelowna club to three goals last night. Rookie Bo Didur's 32-save effort included stops that bordered on the impossible, and the likes of Brian Drapluk and Matt Dawson translated a hard-working effort in the defensive zone to a pair of points each at the other end of the ice. The Eagles' power-play was good, too; its 22.2% rating away from the South Surrey Arena is good for fourth in the BCHL.

Last Meeting: Adam Tambellini's overtime winner lifted Surrey to the top of the heap in the BCHL on April 21st. The Vees and Eagles won't conclude this year's season series until February 8th in Surrey.

Our Opponent: Fred Harbinson has again built a quality squad in Penticton, and the Vees come into tonight's game first in the Interior division with 41 points. Captain Brad McClure leads a veteran-laden offense that now includes former Smoke Eater Brendan Lamont and ex-Capital Steen Cooper. Only Powell River have conceded fewer goals than Penticton's 77, but the Vees blueline possesses some pop as well led by Brett Beauvais' 40 points. 20 year-old Olivier Mantha and 18 year-old Hunter Miska have shared duties between the pipes, and both have save percentages over 90%.

In the Press Box: Brett Mulcahy, Colton Mackie and Ryan Fraser-Lee miss out for the Eagles. Penticton forward Travis Blanleil sits out after incurring a suspension earlier in the week.

Friday Audio: If you missed it on last night's show, click here for a conversation with forward Braedan Russell.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Eagles 4 Warriors 3

Luke Sandler buried a rebound 4:28 from the end of the third period to help the Eagles to a 4-3, come-from-behind victory in West Kelowna Friday.

Surrey erased a two-goal deficit in the final ten minutes to pick up their third triumph in four games and start the two-game Interior swing off on a winning note.

The host Warriors came out of the gate flying, outshooting the Eagles 13-2 in the opening frame but were unable to beat Surrey starter Bo Didur. West Kelowna found their opener 7:45 into the second when Reid Simmonds jumped off the bench, snuck down the left side and beat Didur with a backhand shot.

Surrey's special teams were again strong Friday, and it was the power-play that found the equalizer when Jonah Renouf slotted a wrist shot home through traffic at 9:28. But the Eagles would find themselves trailing after fourty minutes when Seb Lloyd found the back of the net after a wild series of events in front of Didur that forced acrobatic saves both from him and defenseman Michael McEachern.

West Kelowna took advantage of a Surrey miscue off the opening faceoff in period three, when Tyson Dallman gobbled up a loose puck at the side of the net, feeding captain Matt Anholt in the slot just 11 seconds into the frame, giving the Warriors a 3-1 lead.

But Surrey remained tenacious in the defensive zone and on the penalty-kill, and saved their best for the final half of period three. The visitors cut the lead to 3-2 at 10:48 when Danton Heinen bashed home a puck that ricocheted to him off the glove of a Warrior defenseman.

Then, minutes later on a power-play, Heinen would strike again, re-directing Kale Bennett's blast from the left point over the shoulder of goaltender Andy Desautels for his second goal of the period, tying the game at 3-3.

26 seconds later, Sandler found a winner after crashing the net and scooping up the rebound off Brian Drapluk's slapper from mid-point.

Didur made 32 saves to record the win, while Desautels stopped 26 Surrey shots for the Warriors.

My Three Stars:
1. Jonah Renouf, Surrey
2. Matt Anholt, West Kelowna
3. Matt Dawson, Surrey

Up Next: The Eagles visit Penticton in a Fred Page Cup final rematch Saturday. Note the earlier-than-usual start time of 6:00 PM.

Gameday: Eagles @ Warriors

Who: Surrey Eagles @ West Kelowna Warriors
When: December 6, 7:00 pm
Where: Royal Lepage Place

Pay-Per-View: FAST Hockey
Radio: Ustream

A challenging, two-game Okanagan swing begins Friday in West Kelowna as the Eagles continue a stretch of four straight games away from South Surrey Arena.

Surrey has had a week to ponder an home and home series against Coquitlam that brought back memories of the 1980s, as the two teams combined for 27 goals in two games, the most recent of which being a 9-6 Express triumph last Friday night.

Nobody in Eagles silks has been hotter of late than Jonah and Nathan Renouf. The twins have put up points in each of their last five games, combining for 11 points in the home-and-home set with Coquitlam. Overager Braedan Russell has been the beneficiary of their playmaking abilities, as he looks to ride the momentum of a hat-trick from Surrey's last outing into tonight's matchup.

Watch for Surrey to try to kickstart its offensive production from the back end tonight. Aside from rookie Matthew Dawson, no Eagle defenseman has more than 7 points this season. A shot in the arm for this young blueline could also prove to be inspirational in the defensive zone, as Surrey will look to tighten things up in front of Devon Fordyce and Bo Didur.

Last Meeting: The Warriors scored three times in the third period, twice through Tyson Dallman, to nip Surrey 5-3 at South Surrey Arena October 27th. The season-series is tied 1-1 after the Eagles posted a 3-0 shutout over West Kelowna at the Bauer Showcase in September.

Our Opponent: Despite being 5 games over .500, the Warriors find themselves on the outside of the playoff picture entering play Friday in the vise-tight Interior Conference. Not only that, the Warriors have the fourth fewest goals against (87) in the BCHL, but find themselves locked in a battle for positioning with Salmon Arm and Merritt, both of whom have two points more than the Warriors' 33. Imports Jason Cotton and Carl Hesler lead a potent top-six with 31 points each, while former Prince Albert netminder Andy Desautels has earned the lion's share of minutes in goal. The Warriors have made changes to their blueline recently including the acquisition of former Eagle Zane Schartz from Brooks of the AJHL. Schartz scored a goal and an assist in Surrey's 3-0 over West Kelowna on September 6th.

In the Press Box: Neither team has any listed injuries.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Friday Audio

If you missed it during Friday's show, click here for a chat with rookie forward Danton Heinen. The 18 year-old put up four points in Surrey's 7-5 victory over the Express including a penalty shot goal late in the second period. This season, Heinen sits tied for fifth in rookie scoring with 27 points (11-16-27) after spending last season in the PJHL (and as an affiliate player with Merritt).

Friday, November 29, 2013

Express 9 Eagles 6

Coquitlam and Surrey combined for 15 goals, but it was the Express who came away victors in a wild 9-6 shootout Friday at Poirier Sports and Leisure Centre.

The Eagles battled back from an early four-goal hole, but Coquitlam's offense continued to click for 60 minutes as the Mainland division rivals split a midweek home-and-home set.

The Express were ahead 4-0 by the six-minute mark thanks in part to a hat-trick from Joey Santucci and a penalty shot goal from Canon Pieper, but Surrey clawed their way back through the remainder of the frame, scoring first on a power-play slot effort from Braeden Russell. Joseph Drapluk later converted a feed from Mitchell Fyffe, and Russell would add a second before the period wound out.

The Eagles tied things at 4-4 early in the second on Russell's third of the game, but the Express would regain the lead shortly thereafter on a terrific solo effort from Adam Rockwood, who cut across the crease and slid home his second goal in as many games. Marc Biega gave Coquitlam a two-goal lead before Ryan Rosenthal redirected a Biega point shot on an Express power-play to round out the second period scoring.

Surrey drew back to within two 1:40 into the third when Nathan Renouf flared home a shot from in tight, but the Express restored their three-goal lead minutes later on a rebound effort that caromed in off Jackson Cressey.

Pieper added an empty-netter on a late Surrey power-play before Nic Pierog closed proceedings for the Eagles with a snapper from the high slot in the final minute.

Gordie Defiel stopped 27 shots to record the win, while Devon Fordyce was tagged with the loss.

My Three Stars:
1. Joey Santucci, Coquitlam
2. Braeden Russell, Surrey
3. Marc Biega, Coquitlam

Up Next: The Eagles are idle until Friday, December 6th, when they begin a two-game Okanagan swing in West Kelowna.

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the Bell network.

Gameday: Eagles @ Express

Nic Pierog wore the "C" Wednesday in Brett Mulcahy's absence and will surely bring plenty of energy to Friday's tilt (Damon James photo)

Who: Surrey Eagles @ Coquitlam Express
When: November 29, 7:00 pm
Where: Poirier Sports & Leisure Centre

Pay-Per-View: FAST Hockey
Radio: Ustream

The Eagles go in search of the third seed in the BCHL's Mainland division at Coquitlam Friday. Surrey sits one point behind the Express after a wild 7-5 victory Wednesday that saw three Eagles factor in with multi-goal games.

Danton Heinen led the way with four points, while Nathan Renouf and Joseph Drapluk each added two goals as Surrey closed out its November home schedule with its fourth win in six tries. And with Friday's game being both the Eagles' only fixture this weekend and the final game of the month, no doubt Peter Schaefer's crew will try to continue on the success enjoyed two nights ago at South Surrey Arena.

A win this evening would lift the Eagles past the Express into third place in the Mainland division; Coquitlam enters play one point up on Surrey (26 vs. 25).

Last Meeting: Surrey matched its best offensive output of the campaign in Wednesday's 7-5 win, and recorded its first home-ice win against the Express this season. Coquitlam leads the season series 3-2.

Our Opponent: The Express will be eager to start the weekend off on a positive note and can take stock in a strong third-period comeback that nearly paid off Wednesday. Coquitlam visits the Island Saturday and Sunday and in doing so will burn two of their four games in hand on the Eagles by the end of the weekend. Playmaker Adam Rockwood leads all scorers in the season series with 11 points through five games; both he and captain Ryan Rosenthal put up a goal and an assist two nights ago.

In the Press Box: Veterans Brett Mulcahy and Colton Mackie both missed Wednesday's game; blueliner Ryan Fraser-Lee is out. Newcomer Luke Sandler is eligible to return following a two-game suspension.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Wednesday Audio

I had a chance to catch up with the newest Surrey Eagle, Luke Sandler, before Wednesday's 7-5 win over the Express. Sandler, from Chicago, put up 23 goals last season in the BCHL with Cowichan Valley and Trail before a stint with USHL Muskegon at the start of this season.

Sandler missed last night's game due to suspension, but so far has marked the start of his Eagles career with 2 goals in his first three games. He'll make his return to the lineup tomorrow in Coquitlam.

To listen to our conversation, click here.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Eagles 7 Express 5

Nathan Renouf, Joseph Drapluk and Danton Heinen each had multi-goal games to help the Eagles to their second straight win, 7-5 over the Coquitlam Express Wednesday at South Surrey Arena.

Surrey scored twice in the opening 32 seconds of the third period to break Wednesday's game open, then withstood an Express rally to move to within one point of third place in the Mainland division.

The Eagles opened the scoring 5:37 into the game when Renouf fired home his fourth goal of the season before Corey Mackin equalized things midway through the opening frame.

Surrey pounced on BCHL Player of the Week Gordie Defiel, scoring twice more in the final 3:01 of the period. First, Drapluk finished off a 2-on-1 after a nifty setup from Heinen, then Jonah Renouf put home a snapshot after a quick feed from behind the net from his brother.

The teams traded goals in the second period, Surrey's coming on a penalty shot after Heinen was hauled down while bearing down on Defiel after winning a race to a loose puck in the neutral zone. The rookie forward coolly slotted his tenth goal of the season blocker-side on Defiel to put the hosts up 4-2 after 40 minutes.

The Eagles were well on their way to victory after the rapid-fire goals to start the third, but Coquitlam chipped away at their deficit, first when a loose puck made its way to Daniel Lange just outside the crease of Surrey starter Devon Fordyce. Lange tucked his sixth of the season home with 8:53 gone in the period.

Captain Ryan Rosenthal cut the lead to 6-4 on a pretty solo rush 2:20 later, then veteran blueliner Zach Hodder brought the Express back to within a goal with six minutes left. Surrey didn't buckle, though, with Heinen eventually finding the empty net with 30 seconds left to seal the win.

Fordyce made 32 saves to collect the victory, while Defiel was tagged with the loss.

My Three Stars:
1. Danton Heinen, Surrey
2. Ryan Rosenthal, Coquitlam
3. Nathan Renouf, Surrey

Up Next: The two teams meet again Friday in Coquitlam. Game time is 7:00 pm.

Tidbits: The Eagles were missing four overage players to injury and suspension, and dressed three affiliate callup forwards. Jonah Renouf now has goals in four straight games. 9 of Heinen's 11 goals this season have been scored on home ice.

Gameday: Eagles vs. Express

Who: Surrey Eagles vs. Coquitlam Express
When: November 27, 7:00 pm
Where: South Surrey Arena

Pay-Per-View: FAST Hockey
Radio: Ustream

The Eagles close out the first half of the BCHL season tonight against Coquitlam, as Surrey goes in search of its second consecutive win on home ice. Jonah Renouf and Danton Heinen scored third-period goals, and Devon Fordyce made 21 saves Saturday to propel Surrey to a come-from-behind win against the Merritt Centennials. Renouf, whose goal sparked the Teddy Bear Toss Saturday night, has now scored in three straight games and has taken over the Eagles' team lead in points with 31.

The Eagles have yet to beat Coquitlam on home ice this season, but a win tonight would inch Surrey to within a point of the third-place Express. Tonight's game is the first in a home-and-home set as well, as the two sides will meet Friday in Coquitlam.

Last Meeting: Coquitlam scored three times in the opening period and withstood a furious Surrey rally to win 4-3 at Poirier Sports & Leisure Centre on November 6th. The Express lead the season series 3-1.

Our Opponent: The Express are sure to be confident after a weekend sweep of the Interior division-leading Penticton Vees. Coquitlam posted a 3-1 victory at home Friday and edged the Vees 2-1 in overtime Saturday, earning netminder Gordie Defiel a BCHL Player of the Week award. Forward Bo Pieper, who scored Saturday's winner, is riding a 9-game point streak while playmaker Adam Rockwood's 28 assists lead the BCHL. Only three teams (Salmon Arm, Powell River & Victoria) have scored more goals than the Express' 94 this season.

In the Press Box: Surrey remains without defenseman Ryan Fraser-Lee (IR), while newcomer Luke Sandler serves the second of a two-game suspension tonight. Coquitlam have no listed injuries.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Hambrook To Hamilton College

Graduating Smokies defenseman Bennett Hambrook is off to Hamilton College next fall. The 21 year-old will play NCAA Division III hockey for the next four years in upstate New York after a four-year junior career that included three seasons in the BCHL.

Hambrook, from Kimberley, joined the Smokies from Salmon Arm in mid-November (at the time, he was the SilverBacks' captain). Eleven of his eighteen career BCHL points came in the 29 games he played with Trail this season. The ex-Nelson Leaf actually began his BCHL career as a Smokie, making 2 appearances as a call-up in 2009-10.

The full release from the team is here.

Hamilton College, which recently placed #16 in the United States in a US News and World Report ranking of national liberal arts colleges, is getting a heck of a player and person. I've never seen the kind of outpouring of well-wishes from players, coaches and staff as I saw from the SilverBacks when the deal to bring Hambrook here was finalized last November; I think everyone within the Smoke Eaters organization understood why rather quickly. Hambrook's heart and determination on the ice, and professional attitude and leadership qualities off it, will continue to serve him well as he continues on to college this fall. I'd expect that he'll be just as good an ambassador for the Continentals as he was with the Smoke Eaters.

Congratulations and all the best "Hammy!"

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Smokies Kelowna Camp Info

After a two-day spring camp at the Cominco Arena over the holiday weekend, the Smokies are now looking ahead to a summer session that will be held June 28-30 in Kelowna.

I'm told the team is looking to fill four teams (80 or so players) to run a reasonable, manageable event for skaters and goaltenders alike to showcase their skills. The camp will be held at the Capital News Centre.

More information (including a registration form) is available on the Smoke Eaters website.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Smokies Add To Coaching Staff

The Smoke Eaters' 2013-14 coaching staff will have one new face, and one familiar face in an augmented role.

First, Barry Zanier has signed on as a full-time assistant after spending the past eleven years as a part-timer. Zanier, a former junior and senior Smoke Eater, has been balancing work with the hockey club along with work as a school-teacher in Rossland.

The Smokies have also hired Craig Clare as an assistant coach. Clare, who was co-Rookie of the Year in the BCHL's Interior Conference as a Smoke Eater in 1998, has been coaching locally within Greater Trail Minor Hockey, most recently at the bantam level.

The full release from the team is here.

At first blush, both hirings look to me like solid moves from the Smoke Eaters standpoint. Zanier already knows the team and the day-to-day operations of the club inside-out, and provides a calming, yet authoritative voice both on the bench and in the dressing room.

Clare, meanwhile, already has a great read on up-and-coming local talent through his work in minor hockey. His three-year BCHL career (two seasons with Trail, one with Victoria) will serve as valuable experience too.

Congrats Barry, and welcome aboard Craig!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Ex-Smokie DeKeyser Makes NHL Debut

Former Smoke Eaters defenseman Dan DeKeyser cracked an NHL lineup for the first time Friday, making his professional debut with the Detroit Red Wings in Denver against the Colorado Avalanche.

DeKeyser logged a total of 16:36 of ice-time (with 95 seconds on the PK) and was an even plus-minus in Detroit's 3-2 OT win over the Avalanche.

DeKeyser, from Detroit, spent the 2008-09 season in Trail scoring 7 power-play goals and 25 overall points in 58 games with the Smokies. He left for the USHL after one year and following a season with the Sioux City Muskateers developed into one of the top college free-agents during three seasons at Western Michigan University.

The full release from the team is available here.

Surely, DeKeyser's debut is cause for celebration for the Smokies. He becomes the seventh Junior "A" Smoke Eater (counting four seasons in the late, great RMJHL) to appear in an NHL game, and the first since Brett Skinner played 11 games with the New York Islanders in 2008-09. It's yet another example of how players CAN come to smaller BCHL markets like Trail and move on to the highest levels of hockey.

Congrats Danny, and here's to many more NHL memories!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Baltus To Michigan Tech

The Interior Conference MVP has changed his travel itinerary for September. Brent Baltus, who verbally committed to Alaska-Anchorage last November, has agreed to join their conference rival Michigan Tech Huskies after the Seawolves elected not to renew the contract of their head coach last week.

The official word from the team is available here.

At Michigan Tech, Baltus joins a very impressive list of recruits including Edmonton Oilers draftee Jujhar Khaira, former Smokies AP and current Merritt blueliner Dane Birks and Surrey's super sophomore Demico Hannoun. Huskies assistant coach Bill Muckalt (himself a former Centennial) has been a fixture at many BCHL rinks including Cominco Arena this past season and no doubt Baltus' play (especially an autumn that saw him challenge for the league scoring lead) caught the attention of several recruiters.

Best of luck south of the border Brent, and congrats!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Smokies Spring Camp A Go, OTW Hiatus

About 60 players from BC, Alberta and beyond will be at Cominco Arena this weekend for a two-day Smoke Eaters Spring Camp.

Fans are welcome to attend any of the on-ice sessions Saturday and Sunday (check at the Cominco Arena on Saturday morning for more details) as the Smokies staff check out prospects vying for places on the 2013-14 squad. Last year's spring camp proved to be a key testing ground for the likes of Mitch Foyle and Braeden Jones, don't be surprised to see similar standout performances this weekend.

As for any recap, in short, don't expect one I'm afraid. I'm off to spend the Easter weekend with family happily out of cellphone range. Next week marks the beginning of my work to prepare for the 2013-14 season. In fact, I'm hoping to completely re-tool the blog over the next weeks and months to provide a lot more content and a new look by the time training camp rolls along in August.

Thanks as always for reading, and hope you're enjoying the sunshine!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Ex-Smokie Dyck To Selkirk College

Former Smoke Eaters forward Darnell Dyck is coming back to the West Kootenay. BCIHL champions Selkirk College announced this morning the Chilliwack product has committed to the Saints for the 2013-14 season. Dyck, a four-year BCHL vet with Surrey, Trail and Langley, scored 14 goals and 29 points as a member of the 2009-10 Smokies in his 18 year-old season.

The full release from Selkirk College is available here.

Dyck, a 65-point man in 2011-12 with Langley, will complement a Saints offense very nicely next season and his signing with the Saints should only help augment the profile of the BCIHL as a whole. I can't say enough how good of a job Saints coach Jeff Dubois and his staff did to build hype, and bring success to the Saints this past season and I'm sure they'll be a strong side again this fall.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Smokies Extend Head Coach/GM

More off-ice news this morning, as the Smokies board of directors voted earlier this week to extend the contract of head coach and general manager Bill Birks.

Birks, in his second season as bench boss in Trail, led the Smokies to a 26-28-0-2 overall record, more than doubling the previous year's win total and nearly doubling the point total from 2011-12. Three Smoke Eaters players earned Division I scholarships over the course of the season, with Alaska-Anchorage commit Brent Baltus being named Interior Conference MVP yesterday.

The full release from the team is here.

I'm extremely happy for Bill and his family, who I know absolutely love the community and being a part of the Smoke Eaters family. During his time here, the Smoke Eaters have developed a reputation as one of the hardest-working teams in the BCHL and with all but four players eligible to return in 2013-14, I'd expect that to continue on next fall. I know I'm excited to continue working with him and watching this team continue to grow.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Baltus Named Interior MVP

Smoke Eaters forward Brent Baltus has been awarded the Vern Dye Memorial Trophy the 2013 BCHL Interior Conference MVP. This after a 24-goal, 52-point season that saw the Nanaimo product earn a Division I scholarship and establish himself as one of the most dangerous offensive threats in the BC Hockey League. It's an incredible feat for a player who arrived in Trail as a 19 year-old rookie and progressed from the Smokies' third line to top unit at breakneck speed.

The full release from the team is here.

Baltus is the first Smoke Eater to win a major BCHL award since Justin St. Louis was named Interior Rookie of the Year in 2004. He is the first Smokie to win this particular trophy too. Overall it's only the eighth time Trail's organization has been awarded a major honour since entering the league in 1995. It's been a memorable season, to say the least, and it's terrific to see Baltus and the Smoke Eaters earn some recognition at a league-wide level.

The full list of 2012-13 award winners was made public this morning and is available here.

Way to go "Baltsy," and keep up the good work in Alaska!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Smoke Eaters 4 Vees 2

Marley Keca scored twice as the Smokies closed the 2012-13 season with a 4-2 win over Penticton in front of 1,649 fans Sunday at Cominco Arena.

Keca opened the scoring on another crazy carom, then added a second on a one-timer bullet with 1.4 seconds left in period two to help the Smokies to a 26th victory of the season in the final BCHL game for 20 year-olds Brent Baltus, Garrett McMullen, Tyler Berkholtz and Bennett Hambrook.

The Vees, who scratched ten regulars and dressed only 14 skaters Sunday, held Trail off the scoresheet through the opening frame, but the hosts found their offensive touch with a 3-goal outburst in a 94-second span early in the second period. First, Keca fooled everyone with a left-wing dump-in that bounced off a stanchion and jerked toward a goal vacated by Vees netminder Nic Renyard. It was a goal eerily similar to one scored by Braeden Jones against this same Penticton club just two weekends ago.

Moments later, the Smokies went ahead 2-0 after Luke Sandler juked past a defenseman, then outwaited Renyard with a backhand effort to score his 23rd goal of the season. Jesse Knowler potted his 9th of the campaign on the next shift on a pretty centring feed from Shane Poulsen.

The Vees would score before the end of the middle frame thanks to Jordan Boultbee. The rookie forward was sent in alone on Trail netminder Lyndon Stanwood after a spin-o-rama pass from linemate Ryan Gropp found his stick in the left-wing circle.

Keca's second of the game added an exclamation mark to the Smokies' second-period outburst, though. The 19 year-old hammered a cross-zone pass from forward Riley McDougall into the top corner for his second goal of the game, and third of the season.

Trail took advantage of a tired Vees squad in the third period possession-wise and territorially, outshooting the visitors 18-6. It was Penticton, though, who scored the only goal of the final frame (in the final minute to boot) as AP callup Brett Harris tapped home his first in the BCHL to round out the scoring with 44 seconds left.

Stanwood made 27 saves for the Smokies to collect his 15th win of the season, while Renyard made 43 saves at the other end for the short-handed Vees.

Of the four twenty year-olds, only McMullen failed to record a point Sunday, though not for lack of effort. This Trail squad was motivated, aggressive and physical this afternoon, and were bent on ending a disappointing weekend with aplomb. Sunday's win also sealed the first season-series victory against Penticton since the 2004-05 season. It was a fitting send-off for the graduating Smoke Eaters too: each of them battled through injury and adversity this season and were incredible ambassadors for the Smoke Eater crest throughout their time here.

To "Hammy," "Baltsy," "Berky" and "Mully," all the best in wherever life takes you both on and off the ice, and thank you for keeping us all entertained during your time with the Orange & Black.

Thanks as well to the players & coaches for their commitment, as well as our legion of volunteers, billet families and YOU the fans and parents for being a part of the 18th season of BCHL Smoke Eaters hockey. With all but four skaters eligible to return next year, there's reason to be excited for 2013-14. I know I can't wait to see what happens next, and I hope to see you all back at the Cominco Arena come the second half of August.

Gameday: Smoke Eaters vs. Vees

Who: Trail Smoke Eaters vs. Penticton Vees
When: March 10, 3:00 PM
Where: Cominco Arena, Trail

Another season of Smoke Eaters hockey draws to a close this afternoon against Penticton. Trail was eliminated from playoff contention after the Salmon Arm SilverBacks clinched the fourth and final playoff berth, and so it will be the ‘Backs that will square off against today’s opponent, Penticton, in the first round of the BCHL playoffs beginning Friday.

This Smoke Eater club battled every night, bringing pride to the club crest and doubling its overall win total from last year. Three Smokies (Brent Baltus, Garrett McMullen and Luke Sandler) cracked the 20-goal mark after no Smoke Eater did so last season, and three members of this group have already secured NCAA Division I scholarships. Trail’s ten extra-time wins this season matches a club record set during the 1997-98 season, though unbelievably the Surrey Eagles’ 11 overtime wins is this season’s top mark.

Today, we bid farewell to four Smoke Eater leaders in Baltus, McMullen, Bennett Hambrook and Tyler Berkholtz as they graduate from the junior “A” ranks.  Baltus and McMullen both spent two seasons with the Orange & Black while Berkholtz and Hambrook both joined the team this year. Please join me in giving them a much-deserved round of applause as they, and your Smoke Eaters, play out the final game of their 2012-13 season this afternoon. I hope you’ve enjoyed the ride.

Last Meeting: Brad McClure broke a 4-4 tie here last Saturday with just under 6 minutes remaining to give Penticton a win. Both teams have won three times in the six previous meetings this season.

Our Opponent: The Vees will be the top seed in the Interior conference bracket after clinching the division here last weekend, but losses in four of the last five games mean Penticton will miss out on the overall regular-season crown. Fred Harbinson’s group will be motivated to end the regular season on a positive note after a last-minute loss in Vernon on Friday night. Captain Troy Stecher sealed his future with the University of North Dakota earlier this week, meaning all but six players on the Vees’ active roster are committed to college. Today also marks one last visit to Trail for former Smokie Sam Mellor, who sits on 54 points entering play today after back-to-back 60+ point seasons with the Smoke Eaters in 2009-10 and 2010-11.

In the Press Box: Trail’s Bryce Knapp is out for the remainder of the season. The Vees will see forward Cody DePourcq return from a suspension today, but have no listed injuries.

Broadcast Info: Join me for all the action from Cominco Arena on FastHockey pay-per-view or listen for free on Smokies Ustream. Pre-game coverage begins at 2:50 with the play-by-play set for 3:00.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Baltus Named To BCHL All-Star Team

A day after being named Smoke Eaters co-MVP, some more nice news for forward Brent Baltus. The 20 year-old was named to the BCHL's Interior Conference Second All-Star Team this morning. Baltus leads Trail in scoring with 51 points from 46 games, and is also top dog among the Smokies in goals (24) and short-handed markers (2). 80 of Baltus' 81 career BCHL points have come in a Smoke Eater uniform.

The full release from the team is here.

For a complete listing of this season's BCHL All-Stars, click here.

Great job Brent and congrats on a sensational season so far!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Smokies Hand Out Hardware

Co-MVPs Brent Baltus and Tyler Berkholtz flanked by the Smokies' coaching staff

More than 100 people took in Tuesday's Smoke Eaters awards banquet at the Riverbelle in Trail, an event that saw five multiple award winners as the Smokies recognized their players for the hard work they've put in so far this season.

Brent Baltus and Tyler Berkholtz were named co-winners of the Smokies' Most Valuable Player award, while Quinnipiac commit Scott Davidson earned Rookie of the Year honours. Braden Pears was named Top Defenseman while captain Garrett McMullen won the Ed Shelly Memorial award which recognizes hard work, dedication and pride to the Smoke Eater crest and to the community.

Trail's four overage players, Baltus, Berkholtz, McMullen and defenseman Bennett Hambrook were also presented with their white game jerseys from this past season as a keepsake.
Trail's four twenty year-olds receive their game jerseys Tuesday

Here's a list of the 2012-13 Smoke Eaters award winners:

Top Scorer: Brent Baltus
Scholastic Award: Scott Davidson
Unsung Hero: Luke Sandler
Most Improved Player: Mitch Foyle
Most Inspirational Player: Adam Wheeldon
Top Defenseman: Braden Pears
Most Dedicated Player: Bennett Hambrook
Rookie of the Year: Scott Davidson
Fan Favourite: Adam Wheeldon
Ed Shelly Memorial Award: Garrett McMullen
Most Valuable Player: Brent Baltus/Tyler Berkholtz
Randy Emery’s Warrior of the Year: Tyler Berkholtz

Congrats to each of the players for their hard work and dedication this season, it's been an awful lot of fun watching/traveling/following you guys as this season has progressed. Like every good novel though, it needs an ending, and here's to that ending being as prolonged as possible.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Vees 5 Smoke Eaters 4

Brad McClure's goal with 5:40 left in the third period broke a 4-4 tie, and gave the Vees a win in Trail for the first time this season after another wild third-period rally by the Smoke Eaters.

McClure tallied his team-leading 27th goal of the season after the Smokies scored twice in 66 seconds to complete a three-goal comeback in front of 1,200 fans Saturday at Cominco Arena.

The Smoke Eaters picked up where they left off Friday night in Penticton, scoring the opening goal just shy of the 12-minute mark on a power-play. Valik Chichkin wired home a one-timer from the right point that beat Vees starter Chad Katunar through heavy traffic.

Penticton's Jedd Soleway would reply just over three minutes later, putting the Vees on the board with a well-taken deflection in front of Smoke Eaters netminder Adam Todd. Soleway returned to Penticton's lineup Saturday after serving a two-game suspension.

The Vees would take the lead 2:20 later on a man-advantage situation of their own. Louie Nanne took a Sam Mellor cross-ice pass from left half-wall to right circle, one-timing a low shot that snuck between Todd's toes and the right post. Nanne now has seven goals in six games against the Smokies.

The Nanne goal gave the visitors plenty of momentum that carried over into period two. First, Cody DePourcq slotted home his thirteenth goal of the season 3:10 into the middle frame, then Michael Rebry put home his second in as many games six minutes later to give the Vees a 4-1 lead midway through regulation time.

That wasn't to say the game was at all one-sided, and Trail found some luck and some more power-play production 1:44 from the end of the period when Austin Adduono deflected home a Marley Keca point shot from just outside the crease. Adduono was decked in front of the goal, got up, and tipped the long wrister into the back of the net for his seventh goal of the season.

The Smokies leaned on their veterans to start the third period, and the veterans delivered. First, captain Garrett McMullen snuck home his third goal in as many games 7 minutes into the final frame to cut the deficit to one. Then just over a minute later, leading scorer Brent Baltus put home a second rebound to tie the game at 4-4, sending the home crowd into a frenzy. Baltus picked up the puck with a seemingly open net after Jesse Knowler shot from the right wing but was thwarted by Vees defenseman Bryan Sinz. Luckily for Baltus, the ricochet shot right back onto his stick and the second time he made no mistake, putting home his 24th goal of the season and first since February 5th.

The Baltus goal chased Katunar in favour of fellow Vancouver Island product Nic Renyard, and perhaps it was that move that jolted the Vees back into gear. The teams traded opportunities until McClure found himself wide open in front of the Smoke Eaters bench. After receiving a quick pass, he walked in down the right side, wristing a puck past Todd's right shoulder. The Smokies poured everything they had left at Renyard, but the rookie netminder stood tall, denying the home side a fifth straight victory.

It was another example of this Smoke Eaters club responding to early adversity. It would have been too easy to fold the tent tonight when the score was 4-1, but instead Bill Birks' club kept working, chipping away at the lead until it was gone. The McClure goal was one of precious few coverage gaffes committed by Trail all night, unfortunately tonight, it cost them dearly. McMullen took the team on his shoulders again, first scoring the third-period goal, then acting as a battering ram including a thunderous check on Penticton defenseman Thomas Nitsche in the Vees zone.

The power-play came to play again tonight too, and again its success was the result of pucks being directed on goal. Trail is, unbelievably, 8/21 in six encounters with Penticton including tonight, and both Chichkin and Adduono's goals were near-impossible for Katunar to stop.

The official attendance tonight on the BCHL boxscore was listed at 1,192, but in talking to people in the arena both during and after the game, I'd be shocked if there wasn't closer to 14 or 15-hundred people in the old barn tonight. Cominco Arena was rocking, with Baltus' equalizer generating the most noise I've heard in that rink since Travis St. Denis' playoff hat-trick against Westside two years ago. Kudos to you, the fans, for showing your support and staying supportive tonight when this team needed you the most.

Salmon Arm lost tonight too, meaning the Smokies and SilverBacks are still, for the time being, level on points with 52. The onus is solely on Salmon Arm now, as the SilverBacks will complete their regular-season schedule before the Smokies hit the ice next weekend against these same Vees. Salmon Arm visits Coquitlam Sunday afternoon before away games in Merritt and Prince George next weekend. It's scoreboard-watching at its basest, and you can bet there will be several orange and black eyes following every move the SilverBacks make from here on in.

My Three Stars:
1. Garrett McMullen, Trail
2. Jedd Soleway, Penticton
3. John Siemer, Penticton

Up Next: The Smokies will wait until Sunday, March 10th for their regular-season finale against Penticton. It's a matinee affair at Cominco Arena with the puck drop set for 3:00 PM. We could know by as early as Friday whether or not a playoff berth will be on the line.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Gameday: Smoke Eaters vs. Vees

Who: Trail Smoke Eaters vs. Penticton Vees
When: March 2, 7:30 PM
Where: Cominco Arena, Trail

The Smokies will go another round with the Penticton Vees tonight in search of their fourth win this season against the defending national champs. Valik Chichkin’s goal 1:52 into 3-on-3 overtime sealed a dramatic 3-2 Trail win in Penticton last night, and ensured the Smokies held serve for the final Interior playoff berth as their rivals from Salmon Arm overcame a two-goal third-period deficit to win in Powell River last night.

Trail will need to repeat back-to-back gutsy efforts against a Vees squad laden with offensive flair. To a man, the Smokies were committed to the cause yesterday, blocking shots, playing with a physical edge, and scoring timely goals including two power-play markers off the sticks of 20 year-olds Tyler Berkholtz and Garrett McMullen.

Adam Todd made 31 saves last night, notably a pair of ten-bellers in quick succession off Michael Rebry and John Siemer midway through the second period. The Smokies have also killed 17 of 20 power-plays against Penticton this season, including all four man-advantage opportunities the Vees were granted last night.

If the previous encounters between these two teams are any indication, we’re in for a treat this evening.

Last Meeting: Chichkin’s winner last night in Penticton sealed the third Trail victory in five games this season against the Vees, and their tenth OT triumph this year.

Our Opponent: The Vees are coming off back-to-back OT losses, and three straight defeats overall entering tonight’s game. Penticton’s woes on the scoreboard are not the result of a lack of chances, in both meetings against Trail over the last week the Vees have managed more than 30 shots on goal with no shortage of grade-A chances either. Both goals last night (from Wade Murphy and Rebry) came off quick releases; Murphy leads the team in scoring with 69 points while the ex-Express sniper Siemer has 64. After deferring to Nic Renyard in the meeting here last weekend, I thought goaltender Chad Katunar was strong in last night’s loss. He comes into this evening’s contest having won 25 games. The Vees could all but seal the #1 seed in the Interior with a win tonight, entering play with a five-point cushion on second-place Merritt. Penticton (73 points) also sits a point behind the Victoria Grizzlies for the overall points lead in the BCHL.

In the Press Box: Trail’s Bryce Knapp is out for the remainder of the season. The Vees will see forward Jedd Soleway return to the lineup tonight after serving a two-game suspension.

Broadcast Info: Join me for all the action from Penticton on FastHockey pay-per-view, with free audio available at Smokies Ustream. Pregame coverage begins at 7:20 with the play-by-play set for 7:30.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Smoke Eaters 3 Vees 2 (OT)

The cardiac Smokies struck again, silencing South Okanagan supporters with a 3-2 overtime triumph Friday in Penticton.

Valik Chichkin played OT hero for the third time this season, as Trail nipped the Vees for the second time in 6 days in front of almost 2,600 fans at the South Okanagan Events Centre.

It was another game that could have gone either way, but the Smokies again found their groove in 3-on-3 extra time, collecting their tenth overtime win of the season.

Penticton struck first on a nifty one-timer from Wade Murphy 7:20 into the first. Murphy shot from the slot, while being hit after a crisp Louie Nanne feed from the right-wing wall.

But the Smokies answered back minutes later on a power-play. Penticton native Tyler Berkholtz found a loose puck in front of the net and lifted a back-hand shot over the shoulder of Vees netminder Chad Katunar.

The two teams traded chances in the second period, perhaps none better than a pair of acrobatic saves from Adam Todd off Michael Rebry and John Siemer seconds apart from point-blank range. Trail's Brent Baltus was thwarted at the other end on no fewer than three odd-man rushes.

Trail found themselves with another power-play early in the third, and captain Garrett McMullen made it pay off. The 20 year-old roofed a puck past Katunar for his 20th goal of the season, giving the visitors a 2-1 lead.

But the Vees would answer back after persistent pressure in front of the Trail goal. This time, Rebry converted on a Siemer pass from behind the net, scoring from just outside the blue paint.

The Smokies needed to secure points, and managed to earn a single one through 60 minutes despite being outshot 11-6 in period three.

The Vees then were caught with too many men in 4-on-4 play, but Trail could not capitalize.

It came to 3-on-3 play, and the visitors found their groove yet again. Baltus and Luke Sandler criss-crossed in the high slot with the puck bouncing on to the trailing Chichkin, who wired home his sixth goal of the year sending the Smokies bench into a frenzy.

Trail briefly moved into sole possession of fourth place, but after completion of play Friday find themselves back on level terms with the SilverBacks after Salmon Arm rallied to win 6-5 in Powell River.

My Three Stars:
1. Adam Todd, Trail
2. Michael Rebry, Penticton
3. Tyler Berkholtz, Trail

Up Next: another round with the Vees goes Saturday at Cominco Arena. There's no reason for tomorrow's game not to have the biggest crowd of the season so far.

Sent wirelessly from my BlackBerry device on the Bell network.
Envoyé sans fil par mon terminal mobile BlackBerry sur le réseau de Bell.

Gameday: Smoke Eaters @ Vees

Who: Trail Smoke Eaters @ Penticton Vees
When: Mar. 1, 7:00 pm
Where: South Okanagan Events Centre, Penticton

The Smokies and Vees will get ever more acquainted with each other, with this weekend's home-and-home set to get underway tonight in Penticton. For Trail, it's rounds two and three of four consecutive meetings with the first-place Vees, and the Smokies enter tonight's game having won two of the previous three encounters.

To a man, the Smokies know exactly what remains at stake in terms of playoff positioning this weekend, but it's up to them to forget all about it come game time. Trail and Salmon Arm remain tied with 50 points each for the fourth and final Interior playoff berth, with the SilverBacks burning one of their two games in hand Sunday at the conclusion of a Coastal swing that begins tonight in Powell River.

The South Okanagan Events Centre is a tough place to win points, and the Smokies will be well-served tonight by playing the same style of game they're used to executing in the friendlier confines of the Cominco Arena. I'm sure head coach Bill Birks was thrilled with the physical tenacity shown by his club in last Saturday's 4-3 overtime win over Penticton, but the Smokies can't get lulled into a game of trading power-play opportunities back and forth tonight if they want to come away with any points. The defence will be tested again this evening, but for me they came away shining after Saturday's effort.

One of the keys to Trail's success last time 'round was the ability for depth players on the roster to chip in with timely goals. Jake Lucchini's opener had to have been a massive confidence boost, and third-period tallies from Braeden Jones and Marley Keca (Jones' goal coming off the carom of the century) only helped the team recover from adversity and set themselves up with a chance to win.

Garrett McMullen enters tonight's game with points in 10 of his last 12 outings. The captain has carried a lot of the load for Trail's new-look top-six, and watch for him to be extra-motivated this weekend with family in town from upstate New York. McMullen also leads the team with 5 game-winning goals, three of which have come in overtime.

And if you like offense, you've come to the right place. The two teams have combined for 37 goals in 4 games (with Penticton holding a 19-18 edge). Let's not forget the last trip to Penticton that saw the Smokies almost rally from a 7-2 deficit with less than ten minutes remaining in the third period, only to fall 7-6 after an offensive-zone penalty in the final minute.

Last Meeting: McMullen's overtime winner last Saturday sealed a 4-3 Smoke Eater triumph at Cominco Arena. The season series is tied 2-2 with the home team winning each game thus far.

Our Opponent: The Vees are sure to be a growly bunch tonight in their final regular-season home game. Penticton has lost three of four games and sits a point behind the Victoria Grizzlies for the overall points lead in the BCHL. Leading scorer Wade Murphy (22-46-68) also leads the Vees in scoring through the season series with 8 points, while Minnesota draftee Louie Nanne is top dog in goals with 6 in the four meetings this season (accented by a hat-trick October 6th). Penticton's blue line is one of the more offensively ambitious in the BCHL too, with 18 year-old Troy Stecher leading the way with 43 points from 49 games played. Both Vees goaltenders, Chad Katunar and Nic Renyard have goals-against averages under 2.25, which makes Trail's ability to score double that in the season series thus far all the more impressive.

In the Press Box: The Smokies are without Bryce Knapp, who is out for the season but working out after shoulder surgery. Penticton forward Jedd Soleway was suspended for last Saturday's encounter at Cominco Arena, but there has been no mention of how long he is out on the BCHL discipline page.

Broadcast Info: Join me for all the action from Penticton on FastHockey pay-per-view, with free audio available at Smokies Ustream. Pregame coverage begins at 6:50 with the play-by-play set for 7:00.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Todd Earns Honourable Mention

Some great news for Smokies netminder Adam Todd Monday, as he became the latest Trail player to earn an honourable mention for BCHL Player of the Week. The 18 year-old was the goaltender of record in the wins over the Centennials and Vees last week, and was named first star in Wednesday's 2-1 victory over Merritt this past Wednesday.

The full release from the team is here.

Todd has been the go-to-guy between the pipes for the better part of a month, as coach Bill Birks has (as he told me pre-game Saturday) been going with the hot hand. And why not. Todd is 8-1 at Cominco Arena, has knocked almost a full goal per game off his GAA in the past 7 weeks, and is a big reason for this club's tenacity in the Interior division playoff race.

From my vantage point too, it almost seems as if the Courtenay product has gotten better since a recent weekend callup to the WHL's Everett Silvertips. Todd didn't play in any of the three games he was dressed for, but surely the experience of getting back to that level (he was a Saskatoon Blade for a stretch of 2011-12) has to have done a lot for his confidence and self-assuredness. (Trail, by the way, is 3-1 since he returned from the Evergreen State).

Way to go "Todder," and keep it up!