Going into the holiday break, the Alberni Valley Bulldogs became one of the top teams in the BCHL, sitting second overall in the Coastal Conference behind the Langley Rivermen.
Part of that success is the strong play of Hobie Hedquist and Mirko Buttazzoni, two players who were selected for the BCHL Top Prospects Game before it was pushed to next year due to COVID-19 concerns.
Despite the success, Bulldogs general manager and head coach Joe Martin continues to adjust his roster. In fact, Alberni Valley recently completed a trade that sent a longtime player to another team with the Bulldogs moniker.
This article will spotlight those standout players. It will also talk about the recent trades the team has made. But before getting to that, I want to catch up with the junior B Port Alberni Bombers, who are owned by the same group as the Bulldogs.
Before the holiday break, the Bombers sat fifth place in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League’s North Division. Their overall record was 12-18-2-1, earning 27 points. Port Alberni is just five points back of the fourth-place Lake Cowichan Kraken.
Standout individual performances
As previously mentioned, two of the Bulldogs’ best players are new players. The Bulldogs recruited Hedquist before the regular season and he has become Alberni Valley’s starting goaltender since Luke Pearson left for Yale University.
Joining him is Buttazzoni, who’s a forward. He made his debut during the 2021 pre-season and before the holiday break, scored seven goals and seven assists in 22 games. However, Mirko isn’t the only Buttazzoni brother to make an impact.
His younger brother Diego is a reserve roster affiliate player for the Bulldogs.
In his regular season debut on Dec. 18, Diego scored his first BCHL goal against the Chilliwack Chiefs. He made his Bulldogs debut during the 2021 pre-season on Sept. 19 against the Victoria Grizzlies.
Three other Bulldogs have also made strong impressions this season. Defencemen Braden Blace and Emanuelson Charbonneau were named to the Prospects Game Coastal Conference roster along with forward Ethan Bono. The Bulldogs and Penticton Vees were the only teams to have five players named to the game.
Shuffling the crease
Before the holiday break, Martin made a pair of transactions. The first move sent longtime goaltender Jackson Glassford to the Blackfalds Bulldogs of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. In return, Alberni Valley got future considerations and the playing rights to 2003-born defenseman Wyatt Wilson, who is in the Western Hockey League with the Victoria Royals.
Alberni Valley made another transaction when it acquired 2002-born netminder Hayden Dunford from the junior B Caledonia Corvairs of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League. He made his Bulldogs debut on Dec. 4, making 23 saves in a 2-1 loss against the Powell River Kings.
As for Glassford, he was with Alberni Valley since the beginning of the 2019-20 season but didn’t play during the 2020-21 pod season. He is committed to Long Island University next season and his final game for Alberni Valley was Nov. 18, an 8-7 loss to Powell River.
In that game, Glassford was pulled after allowing three goals on eight shots and assessed a game misconduct after smashing his stick and throwing it, inadvertantly, into the crowd. He also received a two game suspension from the BCHL department of player safety.
Odds and ends
In January 2021, a proposal was made to upgrade the lighting inside the Multiplex and it was approved. The lighting in one rink had become obsolete. Meanwhile, the lighting where the Bulldogs play was upgraded in 2009. As for the arena video screen, there is no current update.