Tuesday, February 28, 2012

(AJHL) And they're off!

The Alberta Junior Hockey League playoffs have begun, and the race to the Enerflex Cup is underway! The first round is a Best of 5, while the advancing teams will move on to the Best of 7 second round, with the lowest seeded team facing off against the 1st place team in each conference, that got the first round bye. In 2012, those Bye's belong to the Spruce Grove Saints in the North, and the Brooks Bandits in the South. Here's a look at who's playing who!
Fort McMurray Oil Barons(2) Oil Barons lead series 2-0. Game 3 Tuesday @G. Prairie
Grande Prairie Storm(7)
Lloydminster Bobcats(3)
Drayton Valley Thunder(6) Thunder lead series 2-0. Game 3 Tuesday @Drayton Valley
Sherwood Park Crusaders (4)          Series Tied 1-1
Bonnyville Pontiacs(5)                      Game 3 Tuesday @ Bonnyville

Okotoks Oilers (2) Oilers win series 3-0
Drumheller Dragons (7)
Camrose Kodiaks (3)
Calgary Canucks (6) Canucks lead series 2-1. Game 4 Tuesday @Calgary
Calgary Mustangs (4)
Olds Grizzlys (5) Grizzlys lead series 2-1. Game 4 Tuesday @Olds

Right now, the second round of the Playoffs would see.....

In the North, Spruce Grove Saints vs Drayton Valley Thunder, and Fort McMurray Oil Barons vs Sherwood Park Crusaders/Bonnyville Pontiacs.

And in the South... Brooks Bandits vs Calgary Canucks, and Okotoks Oilers vs Olds Grizzlys

Good luck to all AJHL teams in their quest for the Enerplex Cup!

BCHL Playoff Schedule Released:

The BCHL released the schedule for the post season yesterday. Dates are subject to change depending on arena availabilities. If the Run to the Fred Page Cup began today, we'd see the following series':


Penticton Vees- 1st
Chilliwack Chiefs- 4th

Merritt Centennials- 2nd
Prince George Spruce Kings- 3rd


Surrey Eagles- 1st
Coquitlam Express- 4th

Powell River Kings- 2nd
Cowichan Capitals- 3rd

Round 1 will begin on March 16th, with Game 2 going March 17th. Teams will get 1 night off and return to the lower seeded teams home, for Games 3 and 4 on March 19th and 20th. If necessary, Game 5 will go back in the home rink of the higher seed, on March 22nd, with a game 6 going March 23rd which is a Friday. The grand finale, Game 7, would go on Saturday, March 24th.

Round 2 is set to begin on March 27th, and the BCHL Fred Page Cup Finals will begin on a Friday night, April 6th.

Click here for the official BCHL Release.



Saturday, February 25, 2012

One-one-One with Curtis Lazar...

Here it is! The first ever audio edition of One-on-One. This week, I chat with Curtis Lazar of the Edmonton Oil Kings. Hope ya like it!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

They're Almost Here!

BCHL Playoff Preview!
With under 10 games remaining for each BCHL squad, here's a look at the teams still in the hunt for a playoff spot!


The Kings look poised to make a run to their 4th consecutive Fred Page Cup final. 20 year old Cohen Adair has been a monster scoring 52 goals in under 100 BCHL regular season games, and 17 year old Evan Richardson continues to improve with 47 points in 41 games. Bringing on Teal Burns and J.P Villeneuve has solidifed the Kings with depth up front, while local boy Sean Maguire will continue to carry the load between the pipes. Check out the Kings blog, done by my buddy Alex Rawnsley!

Look out BCHL, the Eagles have won the Fred Page Cup in each of their 4 attempts(90,97,98,05) and they look ready to make a serious run to make it 5. With just 4 forwards with under 10 goals, the Eagles are a deep team that can light the lamp, but they can also rely on their netminder Andrew Hunt. He currently has the 3rd best Save % of starters in the league. A downfall the Eagles may need to improve upon is getting some offense from the point, as just 28 goals have been scored by Defencemen, and half of those have been scored by Steve Koshey. Check out the Eagles Nest Blog!

The Capitals have struggled in past seasons, but this season they have proved they are for real. Under Dale Purinton and Jim Ingram, the Capitals have surged with 2 ex-Salmon Arm Silverbacks leading the scoring, Devon Gannon and Brett Knowles, and both players bring first-class leadership to the program. With Matt Brown approaching 30 goals, Cowichan knows what it takes to be successful away from home, as only the Penticton Vees have a better road record. But with the 3rd least effective powerplay at home, the Capitals need to win on home ice, something they have struggled to do this season. Look for both netminders to pick their play up to an elite level here in the finals weekends of the regular season.

Wrapping up the 4 teams that will make the playoffs from the Coastal Conference with the Coquitlam Express. The Express have 7 games remaining and need just 4 wins to beat their franchise win total and to match their point total, that was set during the RBC Championship winning 2006 season. For a team that has a strong list of alumni, depth has continued to haunt the Express as just 7 players have broken the 25 point plateau. Alex Petan and Alex Kerfoot have been the teams go-to guys all season long and will play large roles in the post season, while Cole Huggins will continue to hold his team in games. Despite a 2.59 GAA, Huggins has a league leading .928 save percentage. Two ex-WHL veterans Connor Redmond and Zach Hodder provide experience that will assist them in the playoffs. Check out Coquitlam Expressions!


Do I need to even begin? Here, I'll give you a few reasons the Vees are number one in Canada: Connor Reilly, Wade Murphy, Joey Benik, Mario Lucia, Mike Reilly, Michael Garteig, Bryce Gervais, Travis St. Denis, Steven Fogarty AND Ryan Reilly. All those players are among the BCHL's best. That's a solid team. But, I am from Vernon; which means I grew up watching the Panthers/Vees, which in turn means I will be the last BCHL follower to jump the bandwagon. With 9 players sure to break the 30 goal mark, I look forward to watching their competition take the body every chance they get. That will be the only way to beat the Vees. Check out Fraser Rodger's Vees Blog!

I wish I could say this is the most exciting story in the Interior this season, but look at the 3 teams below and look at the team above and there is NO shortage of excitement this season. Merritt has won more then 30 games just once since 2001(back in 2006) which hurt the community support over the years, but this year the Cents are playing 'for real'. It all starts with Lino Chimienti and Tyler Steel in net, both goaltenders have helped the team solidify a playoff spot with wonderful seasons. Evan Stack and Chad Brears are the only players with more then 20 goals, but the Centennials have used every player in an important role this season, something that is very important if you want to have a long playoff run. Luke Pierce has built a hard to play against team that will give whoever they play in round one quite a bit of trouble. Check out Red, Black and White Blog!

I had the privilege of calling a couple Spruce King games back in November, and I must say; this team is good. If Penticton has a direct threat, the PGSK are it. They can play tough, they can play fast, and they can embarrass you. With rising star Paul De Jersey and youngstar Jujhar Khaira leading the rush, and Ben Woodley and Chase Golightly manning the point, this team will move the puck so quickly you'll be comparing their style to the Vancouver Canucks. Mix in Michael Colantone and the Fitzgerald triplets, and all the sudden this offense is among the leagues best. In net, Kirk Thompson is capable of stealing games by himself, and newly added Ty Swabb can do the same. Much like Merritt, last summer the Kings future was in limbo, but a strong 2011/2012 season has helped the Kings solidify their place in the BCHL's elite. Check out the Spruce Kings Crusader!

I haven't heard much about the reincarnation of the Chiefs, but I do know they are lead by some dangerous players, including the son of NHL-great Peter Bondra(David). Malcom Gould and Derek Huisman were brought over in the move from Quesnel and have excelled in their new home. Adding Kody Dhaliwal from Salmon Arm gave Chilliwack some more offensive depth, and most of them will be back next year. The Chiefs have struggled defensively and in net, and both of those positions will be very important if they hope to hold Vernon out of the post season. Ex-Viper Bryton Udy and Mitch Gillam both have GAA's of over 3 and Save Percentages just over 90.

The Vipers have won 3 consecutive BCHL titles and are temporarily on the outside looking in as they still have the prospective of missing the post season for the first time since 2001. Now led by Ex-Viper Jason Williamson, the Vipers have picked up their play as of late. Speaking of Williamson, the last time Vernon missed the playoffs, Jason was the Captain and top scorer. The Snakes are led by Mike Zalewski and Adam Tambellini, who are among the leagues top players. In goal, Kirby Halcrow is beginning to play the way the fans have expected him to, which will hugely help the Vipers if they hope to go deep. This team is very talented, and I expect them to make a very strong push for the post season thanks to veteren newcomers Colton Cyr, Ben Gamache and Sean Robertson. Check out vipersdiehardfan's Blog!

I would also like to congratulate Andrew Gladiuk of the Nanaimo Clippers for committing to the Bentley University Falcons for the 2012/2013 season!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Coming Soon, One-on-One with..... and more!

Curtis is from Vernon, BC and is currently a highly touted prospect for the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. He was taken 2nd Overall in the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft.

Currently this season, Curtis has 25 points through 51 games, and you can take a look at Curtis' stats here

OH, and, a side note; the Fort St John Huskies defeated the Sexsmith Vipers tonight in Sexsmith by a score of 4-3 to win the Best of 5 series 3-1. Now the NWJHL is down to four, Grande Prairie will battle Whitecourt(look out AJHL) and the Peace River Navigators will line up against the 'Pups in a series that is expected to begin Friday or Saturday in Grimshaw. Stay Tuned for more info and One-on-One with Curtis Lazar!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

'Pups Take Game 1:

Huskies 3   Lead Series 1-0
Vipers 2

Last night at the North Peace Arena, the Fort St John Huskies slipped by the Sexsmith Vipers 3-2 to take Game 1 of the Best of 5 NWJHL first round series. Cole Calliou and Dave Marshell each had a goal and an assist, while Blair Karasiuk picked up the other single as Travis Mclean played phenomenal in net, making 28 saves. On the other side, Lance Steinke and Jordon Chase responded for the Vipers, who got 33 stops from Nigel Heath of Weyburn, Sask.

Game 2 goes Friday night in Sexsmith, while Game 3 goes at 8:00 on Saturday at the North Peace Arena in Fort St John. Game 4, if necessary, will go Tuesday, with game 5 on Wednesday, but only if necessary.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Huskies Head To Playoffs

I have focused my blog mostly on region-wide Hockey leagues and teams, but today I am going to get the focus on the great white north! The Fort St John Huskies Junior B Hockey Club are heading in to the post season tonight with the first game of a Best of 5 series with the Sexsmith Vipers. The Huskies are heading in to the post season coming off a above .500 regular season, as they finished with a record of 18-17-0-1-0.

In the regular season, the team was led by local boy Robbie Sidhu, who finished 2nd in league scoring with 32 goals and 87 points in just 33 games. Also making a large impact in the teams success this season has been 21 year old Captain Cody Hildebrand(41 pts in 30 games) and Parksville, BC's Dave Marshell who had 48 points in 33 games. Providing important depth for the Huskies will be forwards Shawn Holliday of Vernon, Tyler Bestword of Chetwynd, and Cole Calliou of Moberly Lake. In net, the Huskies have a strong duo. Ty Gullickson and Travis Mclean both split duties this season, and unless one can carry the load alone, they are expected to do the same here in the Playoffs.Mclean's numbers finished a slight margin ahead of Gullickson's, as he posted a.874 save percentage, compared to Gullickson and his .865 S%.

Catch the Huskies in action at the North Peace Arena tonight at 8:00, in Sexsmith on Friday, and again back home on Saturday night for game 3 at 8:00. 

Around the NWJHL... The Peace River Navigators, led by ex-Powell River Kings Brenden and Bond Hawryluk, have a first round bye and will await the lowest seeded team to advance past the first round. The other first round matchups include Dawson Creek and Grande Prairie, as well as the Beaverlodge Blades taking on the Whitecourt Wolverines. Grande Prairie JDA King Nolan Trudeau won the Scoring race this season, picking up 90 points in just 36 games.

Good luck to all the teams, and Go Huskies Go!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Senior AAA heating up

Tonight(Monday Feb. 6/2012) the Fort St John Flyers will hit the ice to close out the regular season against a team from a small town on Highway 2 just west of Grande Prairie, Hythe. After that, the battle intensifies for the 2010 Allan Cup Champion Flyers.

After finishing the season with just 1 win in 6 meetings with the other AAA team in the North Peace Hockey League, the Horse Lake Chiefs; the Flyers will now play a best of 7 series with the Chiefs this month to get warmed up for the Savage Cup, which is the BC 'AAA' Provincial Championships. This year, the series will be hosted by the Powell River Regals, located about 4 hours north of Vancouver.

 April 16-21
This year, the Flyers lineup is looking pretty elite. With the scoring touch of ex-Victoria Salmon King Rick Cleaver(also an ex-Salmon Arm Silverback) and the sharp goaltending tandem of Troy Hunt and Andrew Pool, this Flyers team knows what they need to do to win. Mix in the newly acquired Misko Antisin(who played in 3 World Championships in early-90's for Switzerland), hard nosed defenseman Todd Alexander, and ex-Kelowna Rocket Jason Deleurme, and you've got quite the recipe for success.

Flyers-Regals Series begins March 22
Also playing a key role in this years Flyers team, short and speedy Dave Burke, who stands at just 5'8 on a skate, can bury the biscuit with ease. Rookie Payden Wongstedt is logging big minutes and getting involved offensively with nearly a point per game this season. The ex-Kamloops Storm blueliner is just 22 years old but can make plays that only a AAA veteran would normally be capable of making. To view the Flyers whole roster and to check out some of the other big names on this team, visit their website here!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

A new revolution....?

To all Hockey fans, I assume you've gone to Youtube in search of Hockey videos, and you've probably struggled to find the right one, or one that isn't the poorest of quality. Well, search endlessly no more! Check out HockeyTube, the best new site for Hockey videos, and it even has a blog, too!!!

Check it out, just click the image to go to the site!

Congratulations Vees

I would like to extend a huge congratulations to the Penticton Vees of the British Columbia Hockey League! On Friday night, the Vees defeated the Chilliwack Chiefs 5-1 to tie a 22 year old BCHL record of 29 games without a loss.

Also a big congratulations goes to Fred Harbinson, Travis St. Denis, and the City of Penticton for the accolades! I should also mention, to get a huge crowd like that in the SOEC, WONDERFUL!

With a win on Tuesday in Chilliwack, the Vees will re-write history. Good Luck & Congratulations, Vees!

One-on-One with Brooks Bandit RJ Reed

This weekend I had the chance to have a chat with a forward currently with one of the AJHL's top squad, the Brooks Bandits.

RJ Reed comes from Millet, Alberta, a small town of roughly 2000 a half hour south of Edmonton.

He has put up 103 points in 122 regular season games in the AJHL, along with 6 games played with the P.A Raiders of the WHL as well as the Vancouver Giants.

Check out RJ's stats here!

People say that the jump from Junior B to A can be a huge difference, but RJ, you were playing Midget House prior to jumping to the Brooks Bandits, obviously making that jump that much bigger; what would you say was the hardest aspect of Junior A hockey to adjust to in your rookie season?

The hardest adjustment for me in Junior A was definitely the size difference and the way the game was played all together. Coming in from house league I wasn't much of a player, my game basically consisted of slap shots and cherry picking. To sum it up, I had to learn that this was a totally different game and playing like that wasn't going to get me anywhere. It took getting yelled at many times by my coaches before I realized it. It obviously worked out for me, I'm doing alright now I would say!

Q2- Through your whole life you played a dominant role on every team you played for, is there a particular point in your career you highlight that made you realize Hockey is more than just a hobby?

Basically as soon as I got the nod from the coaches here in Brooks that I was making the team, my rookie season was when I came to realize it was more serious then just a hobby, playing in my hometown of Millet the year before; I thought my career was over and that I was just playing it for the fun of it. Getting told I made the Bandits made me realize that it was more then just a game and that maybe I could actually make something out of it and potentially make a career on it.

Q4- A question I like to ask everyone, goes back to the atmospheres of other teams in the league, other than Brooks, is there a town/arena in the AJHL that you maybe get an extra bit 'hyped' up to play in?

Well obviously to start this off, I have to say that the Bandit faithful have been no short of spectacular this year. There is a few rinks that get a lot of fans at games but overall here in Brooks we've got the best by far. To answer the question, I would say playing in Camrose is exciting. Over the past few seasons we've generated a little bit of a rivalry with the Kods. Camrose is also right close to my home town, so my mom and friends usually make it out to games. You always want to play good when you've got people there specifically to watch you.

Q5- The goal of every player in Jr. A is to win an RBC Cup, Spruce Grove is the 2-time defending AJHL Champion, what do you feel the Bandits need to continue to do if you want to hoist a championship trophy over your heads?

I believe we just have to keep playing the way we are. We have enough skill, so as long as we play smart, defensive hockey; the offense will come for us. Also the attitude has to be there, and for us it always is. Everyone comes to the rink to get better, hoping to get us one step closer to the RBC.

Q6- This ones for the youngsters out there, before every game, every individual prepares themselves a little bit differently, in what way do you mentally and physically prepare yourself for games?

For me there isn't much to it, I'm not much of a superstitious guy but for home games I do generally have the same routine. Stop by Timmies, get myself a large double double, get to the rink, tape my twigs, play a little sewer ball and by the time I do all that its pre-game meeting, then it's off to warm ups! Pretty casual for me.

Thank you to RJ for taking the time out to talk a little puck! Check back next week for another edition of One-on-One! This time, we'll go back to the BCHL!

Friday, February 3, 2012

AJHL Playoff Preview

Well here it is, AJHL Fans! If the playoffs were to begin today, here's who would play who.

The 2 teams with a first round bye will play the lowest seeded team in Round 2.

*Please note Canmore is in a close race with Drumheller for final playoff spot in South Divison.*

Coming soon, One-on-One with RJ Reed of the Brooks Bandits!