Sunday, January 29, 2012

If They Started Today... BCHL edition

Here's the BCHL Playoffs if they were to start today. Wow, look at the teams on the outside looking in; Salmon Arm, Vernon, Nanaimo, Victoria, Westside.... That's 5 communities that have come to expect the playoffs year after year that could be disappointed come March 11.

That being said, not all of these teams will miss the post season, the teams on the left are the higher ranked teams, and honestly, those 4 are the only teams I would call a lock in the post-season. The rest, well, let the battle begin.

Coming soon, AJHL and WHL editions!

One-on-One with Jordon Cooke(Kelowna Rockets)

I had the pleasure of chatting with one of the WHL's elite secondary goaltenders, Jordon Cooke of the Kelowna Rockets. Cooke has appeared in 15 games this season and has a 5-5-2-2 record with an impressive .916 save percentage. Watch for Jordon next season as he battles to be one of the premier starters in the league!

View his stats by clicking this link!

To follow Jordon and the Rockets, check out Regan Bartel's awesome Rockets blog, Regan's Rant!

Jordon, you come to Kelowna from Leduc, Alberta, a city of about 22,000 just outside of Edmonton. Now, coming from a smaller town you've obviously seen some of the old barns around Alberta, which are always fun to play in; but is there a certain WHL barn that you always get pumped up to play in? and why?

It’s a given that our rink in Kelowna is one of the rinks I always get pumped up to play in but being on the road visiting the states and the prairies, my favorite rink that always gets me pumped up to play must be Everett. They have some great fans and create a great atmosphere to play in.

Now in your second season as a Rocket, having Adam Brown as an older mentor has obviously helped, is there any veterans on the team that have also played a large role in making your adjustment to the next level that much easier?

Adam has done lots for me, as my rookie year came to an end he was extremely helpful, but while doing so Tyson Barrie also taught me lots; just by the way he prepared and how he would move on from a mistake or a bad game, if ever having one. He showed great leadership and was so easy to learn from the things he did around the room or on the ice to play his best.

As your sophomore season winds down, over this upcoming off season, Brown will be graduating from the Rockets program, is there anything you plan on working extra hard on over the summer so you can ensure you'll come to camp ready to compete for a starter position?

As an athlete I’m always trying to get better so of course I’ll do all I can to be the most prepared for next season. I’ll spend more time working with my goalie coach John Stevenson back home and train off ice even harder.

Over the last couple of seasons you have strongly established yourself as a talented backup to Adam Brown, do you have any advice to keep younger goalies composed and confident through those times they may be on the bench more than on the ice?

The most important advice I can give to goalies battling times on the bench is not to give up even when times are rough. Work hard every chance you get and your time will come. When it does, you’ll be prepared and play well.

As a rookie last season, you played in some huge games, is there any that really stand out as a night you will never forget? And how about this season?

In my rookie year I will never forget my first ever start in a WHL game. We were in Everett and came back from a 3-0 deficit and 4-3 in a shootout and I was given first star honors with 36 saves. This year I think my most stand out game would of been again in Everett where we won 3-2 in a shootout and I finished with 39 saves and first star honors.

I hope there are many more memorable games to come in your future, thank you for doing this Jordon and best of luck with the rest of the season and keep up the hard work.

Thank you very much for this opportunity!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

BCHL makes changes:

Well the BCHL governors got together and decided it was time to make some more changes. A few big issues they plan on addressing for next season are the 21-man rosters, the Prince George situation, and the lack of a showcase weekend. Here is the statement released by the league:

To allow more fans to attend games, governors voted to lower the number of regular season games from 60 to 56. This will decrease the number of mid-week games when fans are less able to attend. Now, a greater percentage of home dates can be held on the prime nights of Friday and Saturday.

Also, a showcase event will be held Sept. 7 to 9 at a site yet to be determined. The showcase is similar to events held in the Alberta and Saskatchewan Junior Hockey leagues where college and professional scouts are invited. Showcase results will count in the regular season standings. Each BCHL team will play two games at the event meaning all teams, except the host of the showcase, will then have 27 home dates in the 2012-13 season. Any revenues from the showcase will be split up amongst the league’s 16 clubs. Teams are being asked to submit by Feb. 1 their bids to host the event.

Another motion that passed was the decision to move the start of the regular season to Sept. 14, 2012. This will mark the date that the standard BCHL regular-season format shall commence though by that point, two regular season games will have been played at the showcase event by each team.

The season will end March 10, 2013 which means the coming season is two weeks longer than normal. This also will allow more games to be scheduled on prime nights rather than mid week.

With respect to the alignment of the conferences, there will be now be 10 teams in the Coastal Conference and it will be split into two groups called the Island Division and Mainland Division. The Island Division will include Victoria, Cowichan Valley, Nanaimo, Alberni Valley and Powell River. The Mainland Division will include Coquitlam, Surrey, Langley, Chilliwack and Prince George.

Prince George will be given the option to return to the Interior Conference after the conclusion of the 2013 playoffs. With Prince George and Chilliwack set to join the Coastal Conference, the new Interior Conference will include the remaining teams: Merritt, Trail, Penticton, Vernon, Salmon Arm and Westside.

“These decisions were not made in haste and came only after lengthy debate by our governors,” said BCHL commissioner John Grisdale. “The BCHL considers itself an innovator and model for Junior A hockey in Canada and these decisions, not all of them unanimous, have been made with the intention of ensuring the long-term viability of our league.”

Friday, January 20, 2012

Devon Hascarl One-on-One

Here it is, the first edition of One-on-One! Today, my special guest is Westside Warrior forward Devon Hascarl. Devon is an 18 year old from Vernon who came to the Warriors from Revelstoke of the KIJHL. Here's the interview! 

View Devon's stats here: Click Here!

Well Devon, thanks for taking the time out of your Friday to join me. The first question has to do with your advancement to the BCHL earlier this season, you were previously with the KIJHL's Revelstoke Grizzlies before signing with Westside, what would you say was the hardest part of making the jump to Junior A?

Well of course jumping from Junior B to A is always a big jump, not only in speed but in overall skill. So far I have found the BCHL to be not as difficult as a player would think it to be. Yes you're playing against better players but you often forget to take into count that you're also playing with better players therefor you get passes, support and plays that you wouldn't usually get in the KIJHL. This makes the game a bit easier and more simple. also Junior B plays the majority of their games in smaller rinks which gives the players less room and less time to make better plays. So for me, the hardest part of making a jump to Junior A was simply taking my time out there and not panicing and taking a look to make a smart play.

Going in to the final stretch of your rookie season, the Warriors currently sit 10 points out of the playoffs, what do you think the team needs to do if you want to not just make it to the post season, but make it deep?
Well our team has undergone many changes in the last month, but the players we have now our here to stay. We were just on a three game winning streak and lost against Merritt in a 2-1 game with roughly twelve penalties. The point is our team has been playing excellent lately and to make playoffs we just have to buy into the systems and play our game; that's where we have our success. To make playoffs our team will need to win almost all of the rest of our games. Therefore our team will just keep improving each game as we have been. To go deep in playoffs we will just have to play Warriors hockey and play hard and play to win.

As a 16 year old you cracked the lineup of the Chase Chiefs KIJHL squad, before being reassigned to Midget AAA in Vernon a few weeks in to the season, last season, you were a late cut by the Powell River Kings. This season you were a late cut by the Warriors before getting signed 22 games back. Do you have anything to pass on to youngsters who may also experience speedbumps along the way, that could help them better themselves on and off the ice?

Well as a 16 year old trying out for the Chase Chiefs i walked in as a nobody. Neither of the coaches or the scouts had ever heard of me and they already had players in mind to fill the one open spot they had for a 16 year old. As the players were trimmed down more and more, I was finally signed as the 2nd sixteen year old for the Chiefs. In Powell River it was almost the same thing. Having only stayed a few weeks for both teams I did see a positive,  I was still young. So I went out and made a Junior B team, then the next year(this season) made a Junior A team. Although I didn't stick I felt I had the talent to play both of the years. Westside was the first team I had ever tried out for that actually knew me, liked me, and was interested in me. I think that was the reason I didn't make Westside at the start of the year. I didn't train as if I was a nobody, I didn't have the mentality that if there was one open spot on the team, that the spot was mine. When I got back to Revelstoke, I quickly realized I had to practice and train so hard, and that's exactly what I did; and a few months later I was signed as a Warrior. All I have to say to any of the young players is if you're trying out for a team, have the best cardio in camp, it will help to stand out. And never think you can't make a team. Hockey is a business; be better than the next guy and the spot is yours.

As the team has a bitter rivalry with the Penticton Vees, you obviously have bitter feelings towards them. The Vees have been the monster in the BCHL this season, but the Warriors have come close several times, including a 3-2 OT loss back in December that still stands as the Vees only non-regulation win on their current winning streak. What do you think the Warriors should do differently if you want to come out on the right side of the scoreboard tonight in Penicton?

Well the Vees are obviously a skilled team, but that doesn't mean they're unbeatable. The key to beating Penticton is to not let them make skilled plays. This means defense comes first, stay on your man and stay out of the box. Little to no penalties tonight is a big factor for us if we wish to be successful. We're a hard working team and our plan is to simply outwork them and win the special teams game tonight.

Well Devon, thanks again for joining us. Best of luck in Penticton tonight! We'll wrap things up on a little more personal note here, before the games, do you have anything special you like to do to both mentally and physically prepare yourself on game days? 

Well I guess I'm a bit of a weird guy on my pre-game routine. Before I head to the rink, I'll just relax, watch TV or even play some video games. I have a pre-game meal 2 hours before I head to the rink. At the rink I do the same thing every time, get changed, tape my stick, in which I usually leave it off to the side away from everyone else' and the blade can't be touching the ground.

Check back next week for another edition of One-on-One! Again, thanks to Devon for taking the time out to do this. Next week, I'll chat with a player who has been around the league for a few years, and just got his first change of scenery back at the deadline. 

One-on-One with....

Our first edition of One-on-One features 18 year old Westside Warrior, Devon Hascarl. Hascarl is in his first season with the Warriors, having appeared in 22 games to date, with 4 goals and 7 assists to show for it. Hascarl began the season in the KIJHL with the Revelstoke Grizzlies.

View his stats here(click for link)

 Stay tuned for the interview coming today! 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

It's been awhile....

My view in the Wesbild Center in Vernon

Well, here I am. Nearly 3 months later, I will be returning to posting to my blog as I miss keeping my readers up to date, plus it's fun getting to write down your feelings and relate them to the game you love. Speaking of the game I love, the playoffs are nearing for Junior hockey teams!

Over the holidays, I was privileged to be on another BCHL broadcast, this time with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks as they visited my hometown, Vernon. I did color for Scott Campbell and it was alot of fun, I look forward to working with and/or against Scott in the future. Check out his 'Backs blog here: Click me!

 In BC, the BCHL is 2/3 done the regular season and a surprising season would be an understatement if you were asked to describe 2011-2012. If the playoffs were to start today, not only would Cowichan Valley be the top seeded team in the Coastal Conference, but the Vernon Vipers would miss the playoffs for the first time in 11 years. To shed some more light, the Merritt Centennials are currently 2nd in the Interior, while Prince George is also in a playoff spot; meaning Vernon, Salmon Arm, Westside, and Trail would miss out on the post season. Oh, I forgot someone? Penticton? Ah yes, I forgot them because I was sure they were in a league of their own. 40 games played, 3 regulation losses, 5 in total. That is, without a doubt, a number that will keep improving as this season winds down. Plus, they have won 17 of 18 home games, the only loss coming in OT back in December.

Jumping back to the island now, Powell River is currently in 2nd, right around where they'd like to be, just 2 points back of Cowichan, and one point up on Surrey. The Capitals have been near the bottom for the past 2 seasons, so this hockey club is enjoying the season. With just 3 regulation losses on the road, Cowichan will have tight competition come playoff time, as just 8 points seperate the first seed and the fourth seed. Langley has only finished 5th or worse once in the previous 6 seasons, but this season, with a brand new name (Rivermen) they have won just 13 games in 41 contests. Alberni Valley is also struggling, as they are tied with Langley for the basement spot in the Coastal Conference. Nanaimo and Victoria sit 5th and 6th, and trail the playoff spots by 7 and 12 points respectively.

Moving forward, here are some random Hockey tidbits that might send you in the weekend with some things to tell your friends!

  • January 19, 1996- the day the NHL announced that the Winnipeg Jets would be moving to Phoenix.  
  • Vernon Vipers- last missed the season in 2000-2001. The top scorer, with 50 points, their present head coach, Jason Williamson.
  •  Nanaimo has been chosen to host the inaugural Western Canadian Junior A Championships. Beginning in 2013, the Clippers will welcome the champions of the 4 western leagues, with the top 2 teams advancing to the Royal Bank Cup. 
  • Now a Columbus Blue Jacket, Ryan Johansen was once a member of the Penticton Vees, in 08-09. Ryan was also committed to Northeastern University prior to moving up to the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL.
  • Colton Cyr(NAN), Sean Robertson(VIC), Izaak Berglund(WST), Brett Knowles(SA), Brendan MacDonald(COW) all Captains on the teams mentioned, all traded on or prior to the Jan. 10th deadline. Interesting that teams were willing to move leaders of that caliber.