2023-24 connections between the BCHL and the Philadelphia Rebels

For the 2023-24 season, British Columbia Hockey League teams recruited players from several teams across North America and three from a single North American Hockey League team.

The Philadelphia Rebels saw three former players join BCHL teams for this past regular season. The Rebels also welcomed a former BCHL goaltender to their team.

Recently, I wrote two articles about these new players. The first detailed the new players who joined the Powell River Kings and the second profiled Victoria Grizzlies goaltender Jack Fialfoff.

This article is about these players and the Rebels team they came from. I’ll start with a history lesson on the Rebels themselves.

Suburban Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Rebels came to their current home of Hollydell Ice Arena in 2022. Hollydell Ice Arena is in Washington Township, New Jersey. The arena is located 32 kilometres south of Philadelphia proper.

From 2018 to 2022, the Rebels played in Jamestown, New York as the Jamestown Rebels. From 2015 through 2017, the Rebels played in Aston, Pennsylvania as the Aston Rebels.

The Rebels’ first season in Washington Township saw them not qualify for the playoffs and they used four goaltenders, 11 defenders, and 19 forwards. Four additional goaltenders appeared on the roster but didn’t play any games.

Among those goaltenders who didn’t dress for the Rebels in 2022-23 was Vladislav Bryzgalov, who signed with the Alberni Valley Bulldogs on Feb. 7. He never played for the Rebels and doesn’t officially count as a former player, so it’s another Philadelphia alumnus playing in the BCHL.

Samitis and deVries

Kristians Samitis and Luke De Vries were teammates in Philadelphia and they were once again in Powell River this season. Samitis joined Powell River in late January and De Vries signed with the Kings in early February.

Samitis scored 21 goals and 17 assists in 92 games in Philadelphia over the last two seasons. As for De Vries, he scored 11 goals and 49 assists in 148 games with the Rebels, including one season when the franchise was still located in Jamestown. As 2003-born players, both completed their final junior hockey seasons in 2023-24.

Before coming to North America in 2022, Samitis played two years of junior hockey in Norway. As for DeVries, he was with the Stratford Whalers of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League of the second half of the 2019-20 season before signing with the Rebels in 2021.

Fialkoff and Bryzgalov

For Fialkoff, I covered his time with the Rebels in this article. Between 2022-23 and 2023-24, Fialkoff played 37 games in Philly.

Meanwhile, Bryzgalov was playing for the Bishop Kearney School Selects hockey program when the Rebels brought him in as an affiliate. As mentioned earlier, he didn’t see any game time with Philadelphia. Before the 2023-24 season, Bryzgalov joined the National Collegiate Development Conference’s Ogden Mustangs. After 23 games in Utah with the Mustangs, he jumped to the BCHL with Alberni Valley.

He is the son of former National Hockey League goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, who played a dozen seasons split between Anaheim, Arizona, Philadelphia, Edmonton, and Minnesota. Vladislav was born in Haddonfield, New Jersey, which is another suburb of Philadelphia.

What’s next?

After the 2023-24 season, both Samitis and De Vries won’t return to Powell River as they have aged out. As for the goaltenders, Fialkoff has one more season of eligibility and Bryzgalov is eligible to play two more seasons of junior. It’s very possible that they each could return to their respective teams in 2024-25.

As for the Rebels, they’ve got one player from the BCHL on their roster this season. Goaltender Owen Crudale left Powell River for Philadelphia in early February. He played 24 games in Powell River before joining the Rebels.

I can’t recall seeing so many new BCHL players come from a single team and it’s tough to say if it will happen again. Historically, BCHL teams usually recruit players from several different sources across the globe.

The Rebels are still establishing themselves in Washington Township and we will likely end up seeing more of their former players on BCHL teams. Likewise, some BCHL players will probably leave the league to play for the Rebels at some point in the future as well.