BCHL Bulletin: BCHL to become an independent league, Spruce Kings extend management, and more!

BCHL to become an independent league

It was officially announced on Monday that the British Columbia Hockey League will operate outside of Hockey Canada’s systems as of June 1.

The BCHL explains that challenges with the current system within Hockey Canada as well as what can be expected in the new era of the league in a news release here.

Included in the release is a reorganization of the league office. Chris Hebb moves into the role of Chief Executive Officer, while Steven Cocker takes on the role of Commissioner. Hebb had been the commissioner of the BCHL since June 2018.

Cocker did a Q&A with BCHLNetwork owner and editor-in-chief Brian Wiebe about the move to leave Hockey Canada here. Hebb chatted with Wiebe for a Q&A here.

Spruce Kings lock down leadership

The Prince George Spruce Kings announced they extended the contracts of general manager Mike Hawes (28 goals, 41 assists in 47 games with New Westminster and Ladner from 1989-90) and head coach Alex Evin (79-87-0, 3.27 goals-against average, .901 save percentage, and 10 shutouts in 187 games with Powell River, Williams Lake, and Penticton from 2003-08).

Hawes was hired as general manager a dozen years ago, following three and a half seasons as assistant general manager and director of player personnel. The 53-year-old from Prince George, B.C. has been with the organization since 2005-06.

For Evin, 2023-24 is the fifth season as head coach of the Spruce Kings. The 36-year-old Castlegar, B.C. native led the team to a 27-20-6-1 record this past season but suffered a first-round playoff exit at the hands of the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.

Smoke Eaters sign defender Reilly

The Trail Smoke Eaters announced the signing of defender Patrick Reilly for the 2023-24 season. He is committed to Princeton University to play NCAA Division I hockey.

Reilly, who is from Avon, N.J., scored eight goals and 29 points in 40 games with the New Jersey Rockets 18U AAA. He also skated in 12 games with the United States Hockey League’s Sioux City Musketeers but didn’t register any points.

Liu commits to SUNY Canton

2002-born defender Cory Liu (one goal, two assists in 16 games with Cowichan Valley in 2020-21) has committed to SUNY-Canton, which is an NCAA Division III school.

Liu, who hails from Markham, Ont., joined the Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Milton Menace for the 2022-23 season, where he earned 14 assists in 53 regular season games. He was scoreless in six OJHL playoff matches.