BCHL Today: Langley road woes continue and Express fly off the rails

BCHL Today: Langley road woes continue and Express fly off the rails

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

Welcome to the Feb. 15, 2018 edition of BCHL Today, a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

There were four games in the league last night and we start in Merritt where the visiting Langley Rivermen continued their nosedive.

The reeling Rivermen had lost four of their last five, including lopsided results against Trail (8-1), Wenatchee (7-2) and Vernon (5-1).

The Centennials dealt them another gut punch Wednesday with a 4-1 win at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena. A Tyrell Buckley power play goal had Merritt up by one after 20 minutes, and the Cents added to their lead with a three-goal middle frame. Henry Cleghorn and Christian Sabin lit the lamp 35 seconds apart and a Zach Court snipe made it 4-0 through 40 minutes.

Merritt play-by-play man Jared Thomas says Court has been on a tear since being put on a line with Zach Risteau and Brendan Schneider. The trio came together six games ago and since then they’ve generated 22 points.

Jayden Lee scored Langley’s lone goal early in the final frame.

Coming off a shutout of the Cowichan Caps Sunday, Merritt goalie Austin Roden was solid again, stopping 25 of 26 pucks.

Meanwhile, Langley netminders Braedon Fleming and Chad Cromar are struggling. Over this stretch of misery, they’ve combined to give up 33 goals (average of 5.5 per game) and Cromar had to leave the Merritt game with a potential injury after making a sprawling toe save. Of course, not all of Langley’s struggles can be pinned on the guys between the pipes, but they’re not part of the solution either.

The good news for the Rivermen is that all of this has happened on the road. They’ll play four of their final five in the friendly confines of the George Preston Arena, where they sport an overall record of 16-6-2-1. They need to pick it up now or they’ll be the Mainland team traveling to Prince George to face the Spruce Kings in round one of the playoffs.

Side note: Katie Couture from the Cents passed along a note to say forward Zach Zorn played his 150th game last night, all of them in a Merritt uniform.

———————————————————————————————————

On to Penticton where the Vees whalloped the Coquitlam Express 7-1 at the South Okanagan Events Centre.

Penticton captain Owen Sillinger led the onslaught with a four point night (two goals, two assists). Ryan Sandelin also scored twice with Taylor Ward, Wyatt Sloboshan and Kenny Johnson netting singles as the Vees exploded for five goals in the third period.

Penticton outshot the Express 42-21 with Jack MacNab scored Coquitlam’s only goal.

You can read more in the Penticton Western News game review.

Sadly, this game could be a preview of a first round playoff series if the Express cross-over to face the Interior division leader.

That’d be the Vees if the postseason started today and boy, who wouldn’t want that to happen?

Penticton (36-11-2-3) holds a two point edge on the second place Vernon Vipers, and they have a game in hand. If the Vees can secure their seventh straight division title, they’ll see Coquitlam (14-36-1-3) in a series that could be absolutely absurd.

But in a league where all but one team makes the postseason, that’s what you get.

A note about Coquitlam before moving on. Until recently, the team appeared to be making significant strides under new bench boss Jason Fortier. What they lacked in talent they were making up through systems and work ethic, but they’ve now lost six straight in ugly fashion, getting outscored 30-14.

———————————————————————————————————

On to the Island Savings Centre where the Nanaimo Clippers pulled out a 4-2 road win over the Cowichan Caps.

Jake Harris, Tristan Crozier, Lucas Vanroboys and Jeremy Gervais scored for the Clips with Azzaro (great name!) Tinling and Caleb Franklin replying for the Caps.

Cowichan kept it close. They played shorthanded, dressing just 11 forwards (one an affiliated player) and four defenceman. One of the blueliners was an AP and another was a converted forward. If ever a team was set up to be bombed, this was it, so kudos to the Caps for gutting it out.

They were within a goal into the final minute of the game with the goalie pulled when Harris iced it into the empty net.

As tough as this season has been for the Capitals, it’s got to be encouraging to see they are still putting up a fight.

Meanwhile, Nanaimo is keeping itself in the hunt for the Island division title. The Clippers have won seven straight games and haven’t suffered a defeat since Jan. 21. They’ve moved into a tie with Powell River for second place, one point back of Victoria.

Nanaimo would still be a long shot though, with the Kings and Grizzlies both holding two games in hand.

Side note: On the topic of their winning streak, Clippers play-by-play man Dan Marshall pointed out that it comes on the heels of a seven game losing streak as the team adjusted to life under new head coach Darren Naylor. Between Jan. 6 and Jan. 21 Nanaimo lost to West Kelowna (4-3), Victoria (6-3), Powell River (5-3), Salmon Arm (5-4), Coquitlam (6-3), Wenatchee (10-3) and Surrey (1-0).

They ended the slide (sort of) with a 3-3 tie vs Victoria on Jan. 26 before embarking on the run they’re on now.

———————————————————————————————————

Finally, onto Prince George for a relatively meaningless game between the Spruce Kings and Trail Smoke Eaters.

PG doesn’t officially have the Mainland division title wrapped up, but after beating the Smokies 3-1 at the Rolling Mix Concrete Arena (bad name!), the Sprucies’ magic number is one. And now that I think of it, they may have the division title right now on tie-breakers. At any rate, just one point for them in their final five games sews it up without the need for any mental gymnastics.

The Chilliwack Chiefs are the only team that could catch them in points, if Chilliwack won out and and PG lost… out.

But Chilliwack hasn’t won a single head-to-head meeting with Prince George, so you’d have to think the Spruce Kings are safe.

Blake Hayward, Ben Brar and Jarod Hodve scored for PG in Wednesday’s win with Tyler Ghirardosi replying for Trail.

Evan DeBrouwer stopped 29 pucks for the win in goal and has earned himself an apology from this writer.

Last week I wrote that Vernon’s Ty Taylor and Penticton’s Adam Scheel are the only contenders for the BCHL’s top netminder, and it’s not even close. But DeBrouwer has been really, really good lately. He’s lowered his goals-against average to 2.20 and raised his save percentage to .921 while logging more minutes (2,593) than anyone else in the league.

The Ontario native is doing this with a lesser surrounding cast than Scheel and Taylor, and he deserves to be in the conversation.

Here’s a fun video from last year when DeBrouwer was a member of the Nanaimo Clippers.

Side note: PG’s Kyle Anderson sent a note that the Spruce Kings won their 22nd game on home ice Wednesday, tying a team mark that dates back to 2003-04.

———————————————————————————————————

Finally, the National Collegiate Hockey Conference recognized academic excellence for 111 players Wednesday. There are a boatload of BCHL grads making the NCHC Academic All-Conference Team.

According to the press release, student-athletes must ‘compile a 3.0 cumulative grade-point average or better while having completed at least one academic year at his current institution.’

Five NCHC schools placed at least 14 student-athletes on the list, led by Omaha with 20. Colorado College has 17 honorees. Western Michigan (16), North Dakota (15) and Miami (14) round out the top five.

Thirty eight of the 111 players went a step further, earning Distinguished Scholar-Athlete status by posting a GPA of 3.5 or better.

Omaha is again the smartest school, collecting 10 Distinguished Scholar-Athlete nods. North Dakota had eight and Western Michigan had seven.

You can check out the full list here.

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

Just Posted

Abbotsford’s Ying Chun Chen recently won a $1-million prize with Lotto 6/49. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Ying Chun Chen recently won the $1-million prize in a Lotto 6/49 draw. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Ying Chun Chen wins Lotto 6/49 $1-million prize

Ticket was purchased at Abbotsford’s FreshCo for the March 6, 2021 draw

Coquihalla elementary Grade 1 teacher Jenny Mossey hands out saplings to students at Rotary Park for them to plant themselves, on April 13, 2021. (Jessica Peters/ Hope Standard)
Coquihalla students pitch in with Rotary Park re-planting efforts

Popular Hope park trail improved after trees with root rot removed

Kao Macaulay has been charged in relation to a home break-in on March 30 in Abbotsford in which five kittens were stolen. (Facebook photo)
Former Chilliwack man charged with theft of 5 newborn kittens in Abbotsford

Prolific offender Kao Macaulay, 23, accused of breaking into home on March 30

About 80 demonstrators walked through Hope with signs in support of saving the Station House on March 23, 2021. (Photo/Christian Ward)
Public hearing now planned for Hope’s Station House decision

Council has now taken steps to remove heritage status from historic building

The City of Chilliwack website now has a panel full of customization options for people with disabilities, including an ADHD Friendly Profile. (chilliwack.com)
VIDEO: City of Chilliwack website offers new options for people with disabilities

The website now has a panel allowing users to adjust just about everything to suit individual needs

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 indoor dining, drinking ban extending into May

Restaurant association says patio rules to be clarified

In a 2019 photograph, Yin Yin Din held a picture of her brother Kyaw Naing Din, 54, and her late father Hla Din who passed away in 2014, during a trip to Victoria. (The News files)
Family of B.C. man killed by cop appeals to Attorney General for help

The Din family want B.C. Attorney General David Eby to forward their case to Crown

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
Tougher COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., including travel, still ‘on the table’: Horgan

John Horgan says travel restrictions will be discussed Wednesday by the provincial cabinet

Protesters occupied a road leading to Fairy Creek Watershed near Port Renfrew. (Submitted photo)
B.C. First Nation says logging activist interference not welcome at Fairy Creek

Vancouver Island’s Pacheedaht concerned about increasing polarization over forestry activities

Flow Academy is not accepting membership applications from anybody who has received a dose of the vaccine, according to a password-protected membership application form. (Submitted image)
B.C. martial arts gym refusing patrons who have been vaccinated, wear masks

Interior Health has already issued a ticket to Flow Academy for non-compliance with public health orders

Maple Ridge's Doug Ubell caught some photographs recently that he was anxious to share, one taken while on the Trans-Canada Trail looking southwest towards the Pitt River Bridge, and another from on Golden Ears Bridge. (Special to The News)
Traffic on Golden Ears Bridge returning to pre-pandemic levels

Commuters from Greater Vancouver still driving more, taking transit less

Sheila Malcolmson, B.C.’s minister of mental health and addictions (Screen shot)
Minister of mental health tells Surrey audience COVID-19 ‘has made everything worse’

More than 23,000 people in B.C. are receiving medication to treat opioid addiction

Facebook screenshot of the sea lion on Holberg Road. (Greg Clarke Facebook video)
VIDEO: Sea lion randomly spotted on remote B.C. logging road

Greg Clarke was driving home on the Holberg Road April 12, when he saw a large sea lion.

Defence counsel for the accused entered two not guilty pleas by phone to Grand Forks Provincial Court Tuesday, Jan. 12. File photo
B.C. seafood company owner fined $25K for eating receipt, obstructing DFO inspection

Richmond company Tenshi Seafood is facing $75,000 in fines as decided March 4 by a provincial court judge

Most Read