Welcome to the Feb. 3, 2018 edition of BCHL Today, a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.
There were seven games on the BCHL schedule, and we start in Trail, where the Langley Rivermen were whomped 8-1 at the Cominco Arena.
Rarely do you see a score like this where at least one player didn’t have a multi-goal game, but the Smoke Eaters spread the scoring around with eight different players putting pucks in the net. Braedon Fleming go the start in the Langley cage, but lasted just 12:44 before getting the hook, after Trail scored twice on nine shots.
Kale Howarth and Tyler Ghirardosi did the damage.
Nic Tallarico took over in the Rivermen net and Trail took just four seconds to beat him on a Jeremy Lucchini snipe. The snowball rolled straight downhill from there. Spencer McLean and Andre Ghantous scored second period goals. A Levi Glasman goal chased Tallarico out of the net 11:40 into period three, with Fleming coming back in.
Fleming surrendered two goals on seven shots in the final 8:20, with Trail’s Connor Welsh (great name!) and Braedon Tuck pulling the trigger.
Connor Marshall scored the lone goal for Langley, a team that seems to be heading south at the wrong time of year. Since coming back from the Christmas break the Rivermen have four wins against eight losses and are in danger of starting the playoffs on the road.
On the topic of disappointing teams, next up is the Chilliwack Chiefs, who fell 3-2 in Prince George Friday night.
The Spruce Kings generated just 11 shots on the Chilliwack net in this one, but were able to sneak three pucks past Chiefs stopper Mathieu Caron. Patrick Cozzi and Ben Brar had PG up 2-0 through 20 minutes. Liam Watson-Brawn had them up by three late in the second period before Corey Andonovski finally got Chilliwack on the board.
Harrison Blaisdell scored the second Chiefs goal with just 42 seconds left in the game.
I haven’t talked about Chilliwack’s on-ice performance much because, frankly, it’s been depressing. I was hoping for so much more from a team that will host the Royal Bank Cup in just over three months. They will be playing for a national championship, and based on winning percentage they’re only the 11th best team in their own league. Has there been an RBC Cup host that has turned in a weaker regular season?
Look at the Chiefs roster and it shouldn’t be so. Or should it? I wonder, if head coach/general manager Jason Tatarnic could go back and construct this roster all over again, would he still entrust the net to a pair of 17 year olds? The tandem of Mathieu Caron and Daniel Chenard has been far from the only issue with this team, but they also haven’t been part of any solution. Caron can be lights-out one night and shaky the next, and Chenard has been dogged by a lower body injury all season. When he’s played, he’s shown flashes of brilliance, but like Caron it’s been an up-and-down adventure.
Having a 19 or 20 year old goalie to insulate one of the youngsters may have been a better path.
But like I said, Caron and Chenard aren’t the only problem. The lineup has depth but no gamebreakers. The forward and defensive ranks are dotted with Major Junior talents (Adam Berg/Ryan Bowen/Marcus Teskink/Kyle Yewchuk/Bryan Allbee) who’ve underwhelmed.
Tatarnic acquired the AJHL’s scoring leader, PJ Marrocco, earlier this season, and he’s produced a good-but-not-great seven goals and 14 points in 17 games.
Some nights the team puts it all together and looks like the team they were supposed to be, and maybe they’ll flip the switch and be that team in the playoffs. More likely, they’ll be what they are now, a middling fourth-place team heading for an early exit.
Brock Sawyer is now 0-2 as interim head coach of the Powell River Kings after his team fell 4-3 in overtime to the Alberni Valley Bulldogs Friday night.
The firing of long-time bench boss Kent Lewis seems to have thrown this team for a loop at the worst possible time, and you really have to question the timing of Lewis’ dismissal by the Powell River board. The Kings loss to AV combined with Nanaimo’s 8-5 win over Cowichan Valley has the Clippers even with Powell River in the Island division standings.
There’s a real danger that the team could start the playoffs on the road.
Paul Selleck scored the OT winner for the Bulldogs in Friday’s win, which wouldn’t have gotten to extra time if Powell River’s Andy Stevens hadn’t come through with a game-tying goal with 1:56 left in the third period.
Darren Rizzolo, Keaton Mastrodonato and Bradley Ong also scored for the Dawgs with Carter Turnbull and Josh Coblenz replying for the Kings.
We bounce over to that Nanaimo/Cowichan game because the score-sheet is so much fun.
Richmond native Joshua Bourne had four goals in 14 games coming into this one, where his hat-trick powered the Clips to victory. Nanaimo actually led 7-2 through two periods on Bourne’s three and singles by Lucas Vanroboys, Jordan Wharrie, Brad Belisle and Preston Brodziak.
The Caps came roaring back, sort of, in the third period.
Cowichan managed eight shots on net in the final frame, and scored on three of them, with David Laroche netting a pair and Troy MacTavish adding a single.
But Nanaimo’s David Melaragni countered with a power play goal at 18:22 to put any Capital comeback hopes to rest.
Finally, to Salmon Arm where all the Silverbacks do these days is win.
Trevor Adams scored the game winner midway through period three as the BCHL’s hottest team won its seventh straight game. Salmon Arm has 10 wins and a tie in 14 post-Christmas outings. They’re on the verge of leap-frogging West Kelowna for fifth place in the Interior division standings, where they sit just two points back with seven games to play.
I don’t know that Penticton or Vernon or Wenatchee is dreading the idea of facing the Silverbacks in the first round of the playoffs, but Salmon Arm looks like they’ll be a very tough out.
Hudson Schandor had a pair of goals in Friday’s win with Rhett Kingston and Brandon Whistle also scoring. R.J. Murphy had a pair of first period tallies for West K, with Parm Dhaliwal and Chase Stevenson also hitting the score-sheet.
The other two scores from Friday night saw Wenatchee take down the Coquitlam Express by a 7-3 count while the Penticton Vees squeaked out a 3-2 road win in Merritt.
BCHL Today takes Sundays off and returns Monday morning with a look at the rest of the weekend action.
Eric Welsh is the sports editor at the Chilliwack Progress and has been covering junior A hockey in B.C. and Alberta since 2003.