Around the BCHL – Salmon Arm Silverback commits to Minnesota State

Around the BCHL is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

Welcome to the September 13, 2018 edition of Around the BCHL, a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

The first NCAA scholarship commitment of the 2018-19 regular season goes to a Salmon Arm Silverback as Akito Hirose chooses Minnesota State University.

The Silverbacks made the announcement Tuesday.

Hirose is entering his third BCHL campaign, and started strong with one goal and one assist in Salmon Arm’s 4-2 win over Merritt last Friday.

Defenceman Akito Hirose chases the puck behind the Silverbacks net during a playoff game against Vernon last spring. JODI BRAK PHOTO

The 19 year old Calgary native collected five goals and 32 points in 59 regular season and playoff outings last season.

“The coaching staff and I are ecstatic with the news that Akito has accepted a full ride scholarship to Minnesota State University–Mankato,” said Salmon Arm head coach/general manager Scott Atkinson in a news release. “Akito is a highly skilled player with an exceptional hockey IQ and Mankato has an outstanding program, so I think it’s a great fit for both sides. I couldn’t be happier.”

Minnesota State-Mankato plays in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, a 10 team league that includes Alabama Huntsville, Alaska, Alaska-Anchorage, Bemidji State, Bowling Green, Ferris State, Lake Superior, Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan.

“I chose Mankato over other programs because of the coaching staff and the trust they built with me. I also know I can learn a lot from all the coaches, but especially coach (Mike) Hastings,” Hirose said. “I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to work with one of the best coaches in college hockey. The Mankato program has a strong winning culture that puts emphasis on building relationships. Once you become part of the program you’re a Maverick for life.”

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If you’re a fan of the Surrey Eagles, are you concerned that the team has started the season bleeding goals against?

Three games are in the books. Surrey is 0-3 with home ice losses to Coquitlam (4-2) and Wenatchee (6-3) and a road defeat Tuesday night in Merritt (7-6). It’s still very early days, but giving up an average of 5.66 goals per game is a bad trend.

The Eagles have given up an average of 35 shots per game so far, which will wear down any netminder.

Seth Eisele, who lost the No. 1 role to Austin Park in Wenatchee last season, seems to be Surrey’s top dog. Fifth year veteran Daniel Davidson is backing him up.

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Penticton netminders Jack Lafontaine and Derek Krall are going to be sporting some sharp-looking lids this season.

The Vees tweeted out pics of their helmets Wednesday.

Lafontaine is going with the stitches look made famous by National Hockey League Hall of Fame goaltender Gerry Cheevers, who had a stitch added to his mask every time he was hit in the face by a puck. It happened a lot.

Krall’s mask looks great too, but I’m always more fascinated by historical call-backs.

The Penticton masks were produced by Todd Miska, whose Miska Designs company has created eye-popping looks for NHL goalies like Ed Belfour, Josh Harding, Evgeni Nabokov, Niklas Backstrom and Manny Fernandez.

Wenatchee starter Austin Park also has a new look, created by Helmet Head Design.

I love their slogan. Eliminating white buckets since 2010. Brilliant.

Because I love talking about goalie masks even more than I like talking about jerseys, here’s a great photo gallery from NHL.com.

And, I learned something new today.

Being a huge fan of Spiderman, I discovered the former New York Rangers goalie Steve Valiquette had a web-slinger themed mask.

A couple versions actually.

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Sticking with goalies, the Vernon Vipers are pinning their hopes on a couple of 19 year olds this season.

Here’s a great article from Black Press Vernon Morning Star sports writer Kevin Mitchell.

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And sticking with goalies again, here’s my article from this week on Mathieu Caron, who is the unquestioned number one guy in Chilliwack this season.

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Back to Vernon where a new era began last weekend for the Vipers. The team was sold Sept. 7. The Wray family, who owned the team for 26 years, handed the Vipes off to John and Tom Glen.

This seemed inevitable after Duncan Wray passed away last January.

Vernon Morning Star’s Kevin Mitchell has an in-depth article on the new guys and what passing the torch might mean for one of the BCHL’s flagship franchises.

Eric Welsh is the sports editor at the Chilliwack Progress and has been covering junior A hockey in B.C. and Alberta since 2003.

Email eric.welsh@theprogress.com

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