BCHL Bulletin: Cents nab veteran forward from Blackfalds, Heinen, Bellerive, and Reilly become NHL free agents, and more!

Cents pick up Sacchetti in a three-way trade with AJHL clubs

The Merritt Centennials announced the acquisition of 2002-born forward Brandon Sacchetti and future considerations on Monday in a trade that also involves Blackfalds and Fort McMurray of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.

The complicated transaction saw the Bulldogs first send 2004-born defender Kaiden Ellertson to the Oil Barons for Sacchetti. Blackfalds then flipped Sacchetti and future considerations to the Centennials for 2003-born forward Bill Gourgon.

Sacchetti hails from Montreal, QC, and had 17 goals and 33 points in 48 games as a rookie with Fort McMurray in 2021-22.

Gourgon, a native of Carp, ON, finished this past season with a dozen goals and 37 points in 38 games with the Carleton Place Canadians of the Central Canada Hockey League. Merritt acquired him in a trade with Surrey on June 21.

Heinen, Reilly, and Bellerive don’t receive qualifying offers from Pittsburgh

The Pittsburgh Penguins didn’t extend qualifying offers to eight restricted free agents on Monday, including forwards Danton Heinen (29 goals, 35 assists in 59 games with Merritt and Surrey from 2012-14) and Jordy Bellerive (one goal, one assist in three games with Penticton in 2014-15), along with defender Will Reilly (nine goals, 23 assists in 52 games with Nanaimo in 2015-16).

All three are now unrestricted free agents who can sign with any NHL club as of this Wednesday.

Heinen, a 27-year-old from Langley, BC, had a solid season for the Penguins, tallying 18 goals and 33 points in 76 games. He also chipped in three goals in Pittsburgh’s first-round playoff loss to the New York Rangers.

Bellerive, a native of North Vancouver, BC, spent all of 2021-22 with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League. In 23 games, the 23-year-old had eight goals and 29 points as an alternate captain.

The 24-year-old Reilly played 40 games in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this past season and notched a goal and five points. The Torontonian also got into three ECHL games with the Wheeling Nailers, posting two goals and six points.

Lafontaine isn’t qualified by the Carolina Hurricanes

24-year-old goaltender Jack LaFontaine (30-13-3, 2.19 goals-against average, .923 save percentage, and three shutouts with Penticton in 2018-19) didn’t get a qualifying offer from the Carolina Hurricanes and is now an unrestricted free agent.

LaFontaine, from Mississauga, ON, split the 2021-22 season between the University of Minnesota, the Norfolk Admirals of the ECHL, Chicago of the AHL, and Carolina. He was 0-1 with a 7.20 goals-against average and a .780 save percentage in two National Hockey League appearances with the Hurricanes.

Kawaguchi becomes an NHL unrestricted free agent

Forward Jordan Kawaguchi (120 goals, 122 assists in 213 games for Chilliwack from 2013-17) is also an unrestricted free agent after not getting a qualifying offer from the Dallas Stars.

Kawaguchi, an Abbotsford, BC product, posted six goals and 23 points in 49 games this past season as a rookie for the AHL’s Texas Stars. The 25-year-old also appeared in two playoff games for the Stars but didn’t register any points.

Tufto cut loose by the Tampa Bay Lightning

Forward Odeen Tufto (25 goals, 40 assists in 57 games with Vernon in 2015-16) did not receive a qualifying offer from the Tampa Bay Lightning before Monday’s deadline and will become an unrestricted free agent on Monday.

The 25-year-old, who is from Chaska, MN, played four games in 2021-22 with the Syracuse Crunch, which is the Lightning’s AHL affiliate. He was a mainstay with the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears, scoring seven goals and totaling 31 points in 36 games.

Spruce Kings lose Karapita but bring in Lahti

The Prince George Spruce Kings announced the hiring of Karina Lahti as the team’s new athletic trainer on Monday.

Lahti is from Vancouver, BC. She heads to PG after completing her Master of Science in Athletic Training at Whitworth University in Spokane. During her schooling, she worked with Whitworth University Softball, Colorado University Football, and the Western Hockey League’s Spokane Chiefs.

With the Spruce Kings, she replaces Mitchell Karapita, who was hired by the Prince George Cougars of the WHL.

Chiefs hire Presnilla as athletic therapist

The Chilliwack Chiefs announced the hiring of Adrian Presnilla as the team’s new athletic therapist. Presnilla has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Bachelor of Kinesiology in Exercise Science from the University of the Fraser Valley and a post-grad Advanced Certificate in Athletic Therapy from Mount Royal University.

The Abbotsford, BC product is a former therapist for the Calgary Northstars U16 AAA club in addition to working with Hockey Alberta. He also spent two seasons with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League and was part of the 2018 Grey Cup-winning team.

Miska takes his game overseas for the first time in his career

Goaltender Hunter Miska (53-21-5, 2.03 goals-against average, .924 save percentage, seven shutouts in 80 games with Penticton from 2013-15) has signed with the Straubing Tigers of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga for 2022-23.

The 25-year-old from Stacy, MN was 10-5-0 with a 3.04 goals-against average, an .889 save percentage, and one shutout in 17 games with the Colorado Eagles of the AHL last season. He was also 1-1-0 with a 3.51 GAA and an .875 SV% in two games with Utah of the ECHL.

Thompson travels to Wales for 2022-23

Defender Blake Thompson (four goals, 22 assists in 47 games with Victoria in 2012-13) has signed with the Cardiff Devils of the U.K.’s Elite Ice Hockey League for the 2022-23 season.

Thompson, a 29-year-old from Listowel, ON, sniped five goals and tallied 25 points in 69 nice games as an alternate captain with Adirondack of the ECHL in 2021-22.

He also got into one AHL game on loan to the Hartford Wolf Pack for the first appearance of his career at that level but didn’t register any points.

Pietroniro re-signs in Italy for 2022-23

21-year-old defender Kris Pietroniro (two assists in 15 games with West Kelowna in 2019-20) has signed an extension with Fassa of the Alps Hockey League for 2022-23.

The Boise, ID product finished the 2021-22 season with five goals and 15 points in 30 games for Fassa, his first in Europe after two years of junior hockey in Canada and the U.S.

Smith moves to Regionalliga club for 2022-23

Forward Jeff Smith (28 goals, 25 assists in 56 games with Salmon Arm in 2007-08) has inked a deal with EHC Neuwied of Regionalliga, the fourth tier of German hockey.

The 33-year-old from Spokane, WA spent the last two seasons with EHF Passau Black Hawks of Oberliga, which is the third tier of hockey in Germany. In 34 games with the Black Hawks, he finished with 16 goals and 28 points.

Campbell turns pro with ERSC Amberg

Kelowna, BC product Tanner Campbell (44 goals, 65 assists in 168 games with Chilliwack, West Kelowna, Prince George, and Salmon Arm from 2014-18) has signed his first professional hockey contract with ERSC Amberg of Regionalliga.

The 25-year-old forward just wrapped up four seasons of U SPORTS hockey at the University of Regina. In 40 career games with the Cougars, he tallied five goals and 11 points.

Perron-Fontaine joins the Montcalm Batisseurs of the LNAH

Defender Alexandre Perron-Fontaine (six goals, 38 assists in 91 games with Chilliwack from 2011-13) has signed with the Montcalm Batisseurs of Ligue Nord-Américaine de Hockey, which is a pro league based in Quebec

The 29-year-old played most of the 2021-22 season with SC Riessersee of Germany’s Oberliga and put up four goals and 13 points in 27 games. He also had two assists in six ECHL games with Trois-Rivières.

Perron-Fontaine actually made his LNAH debut last season, scoring a goal in two games with Saint-Georges-de-Beauce COOL-FM.