Around the BCHL: West Kelowna Warriors lose defenceman to NCAA

Around the BCHL is a look at what’s happening in the league and throughout the junior A world.

Welcome to the December 13, 2018 edition of Around the BCHL.

This will be the last one for two weeks while the league (and this writer) enjoys a well-deserved Christmas break.

Happy holidays!

The West Kelowna Warriors took a hit earlier this week with defenceman Kyle Koopman leaving to join the NCAA Providence Friars.

You don’t often see this. Personally, in all my years covering the Chilliwack Chiefs and the Penticton Vees, I can’t recall a player leaving midseason to go play college hockey. It’s almost as rare to see a player go the other way, though I’ve seen a couple instances where players left the NCAA ranks to join a BCHL team (usually because of an academic issue that made them ineligible to play at their previous level).

But Koopman’s gone, leaving the Warriors with a void to fill.

The 20 year old wasn’t with West K long. He played just 18 games and recorded just eight assists.

“The loss of Kyle will not only be felt on the ice but in the dressing room as well,” said Warriors head coach and general manager Geoff Grimwood in a team news release. “It hurts our team right now but this league is about progressing these men on to the next level. We believe Kyle is more than ready for college hockey right now and we want to wish him the best of luck in Providence.”

The Warriors (20-14-0-1) are fourth in the Interior division and seem a solid bet to make the playoffs. With Koopman gone the team is running with four 20 year olds, forwards Chase Dubois, Bennett Norlin and Calvin Tilsley and defenceman Anthony Bishop.

It will be interesting to see if Grimwood goes shopping for another veteran before the trade deadline.

——————————————————————————————————————————-

The Victoria Grizzlies had a scholarship announcement Wednesday, with forward Ryan Nolan committing to Merrimack College.

Victoria Grizzlies forward Ryan Nolan puts up points and plays a heavy physical game. (Lindsey Horsting/News Gazette staff)

The 20 year old is in his second season with the Grizzlies, collecting 13 goals, 28 points and 63 penalty minutes in 32 games.

I’ve always thought of the Merrimack program as a friend to the BCHL and I’m surprised to learn there are only two BCHL grads on this year’s roster. Wenatchee’s August Von Ungern-Sternberg and Alberni Valley’s Christian Simeone are freshman forwards, with the bulk of the team hailing from the NAHL and USHL ranks.

Hopefully there’s a trend starting where Merrimack coach Scott Borek starts looking north of the border for talent.

——————————————————————————————————————————-

The Vernon Vipers got a King Kong sized monkey off their back Wednesday night with a big road victory over the Trail Smoke Eaters.

Defenceman Mitch Andres scored his first of the season 1:04 into overtime, giving the Vipers their first OT win of the season. That’s notable because they’ve lost nine games in extra time this year, six in OT and three in the shootout.

Vernon was due to have some bad-luck regression to the mean and who knows, maybe this gives them the psychological boost they need to go on some sort of run. For all their woes this season the Vipers are still a .500 club at 12-12-6-3.

One more bit of hope for Vernon, new goaltender Bradley Cooper has played three games for the Vipers, stopping 85 of 90 shots.

Looks like an excellent pickup at a very important position.

Meanwhile, the Smoke Eaters are on a downward spiral, losing eight of their last 10 games.

I saw them live last Sunday as they were manhandled 7-2 by the Chilliwack Chiefs. It was their third road game in two-and-a-half days, so I cut them a little slack, but they were a lifeless team in that game.

It’s worth noting though that they’re only two points behind Vernon and four behind Salmon Arm in the Interior division. One good stretch could change the picture significantly, but the team I saw last weekend doesn’t look like it’s primed for any kind of turnaround.

——————————————————————————————————————————-

The answer to the Shaw Centre upgrade mystery (which really wasn’t much of a mystery).

——————————————————————————————————————————-

It’s still teddy bear toss season in the BCHL, and Wenatchee has put together a nice video reminiscing about years gone by.

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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

MP asks Minister of Transport for review of safe crew levels on new ferries

The new ferries were approved to run with smaller crew sizes, raising safety concerns

$8,179,919 in grant funding announced for North Island communities

This local funding is part of over $228 million in grants going to B.C. communities.

Port Hardy earns Bear Smart certification

Community committed to living safely alongside bears

Funding police would be ‘most expensive single budget item we would have’ says Port Hardy councillor

‘we’re not panicking — I can’t see our population numbers jumping up that high that quick’

Small physically distant running event with big heart held in Port Hardy

Indigenous Run/Walk program went ahead this year, with some downsizing due to COVID-19

13 new B.C. COVID-19 cases, Langley Lodge outbreak ends

Health care outbreaks down to four, 162 cases active

Two injured hikers airlifted from North Vancouver Island Park

Campbell River and Comox Search and Rescue hoist team rescued the injured from Cape Scott Provincial Park

Alberta health minister orders review into response after noose found in hospital in 2016

A piece of rope tied into a noose was found taped to the door of an operating room at the Grande Prairie Hospital in 2016

B.C.’s major rivers surge, sparking flood warnings

A persistent low pressure system over Alberta has led to several days of heavy rain

B.C.’s Indigenous rights law faces 2020 implementation deadline

Pipeline projects carry on as B.C. works on UN goals

‘Mind boggling’: B.C. man $1 million richer after winning Lotto 6/49 a second time

David O’Brien hopes to use his winnings to travel and of course keep playing the lottery

B.C. teacher loses licence after sexual relationships with two recently-graduated students

The teacher won’t be allowed to apply for a teaching certificate until 2035

Lower Mainland teacher facing child pornography charges

Elazar Reshef, 52, has worked in the Delta School District

Most Read