BCHL Bulletin: Three BCHLers selected on day two of NHL Draft, Vipers and Rivermen make a big deal, and more!

Suniev selected by the Flames

Penticton Vees forward Aydar Suniev was the first B.C. Hockey League player off the board on day two of the National Hockey League draft when the Calgary Flames selected him in the third round, 80th overall.

The 2004-born Suniev, who’s committed to the University of Massachusetts for this September, was third in scoring in the BCHL this past season, torching teams to the tune of 45 goals and 90 points in 50 games. The Kazan, Russia product added nine goals and 23 points in 15 playoff games as the Vees won the Fred Page Cup.

Stanley goes to the Senators

2005-born defender Hoyt Stanley of the Victoria Grizzlies was selected in the fourth round, 108th overall, by the Ottawa Senators during Thursday’s proceedings.

The native of West Vancouver, B.C. led all under-18 blueliners in scoring during the 2022-23 BCHL season, tallying four goals and 38 points in 53 games. Stanley, who’s committed to Cornell University for this fall, chipped in one assist in four playoff games for the Grizz.

Beckner goes from Salmon Arm to the Sens

Salmon Arm Silverbacks forward Owen Beckner was the last player chosen directly from the BCHL during this year’s NHL Draft when he went to Ottawa in the seventh round, 204th overall.

Beckner, a 2005-born centre from Victoria, was second only to Penticton’s Bradly Nadeau in BCHL scoring among 18-year-olds this past season with 17 goals and 50 points in 53 games. The Colorado College commit also posted two goals and 10 points in 14 playoff games. He is returning to Salmon Arm for 2023-24.

Vees recruit Keenan is Motown-bound

Incoming Penticton Vees defender Larry Keenan was the first new BCHL recruit to be chosen in the NHL Draft. He went to the Detroit Red Wings in the fourth round, 117th overall.

Keenan is from Midhurst, Ont. and spent the 2022-23 season playing prep school hockey at Culver Military Academy, posting 11 goals and 37 points in 49 games. The 2005-born blueliner is committed to the University of Massachusetts and is set to start his NCAA career in September 2024.

Warriors alum Legault picked by Carolina

2003-born defender Charles-Alexis Legault (six goals, 12 assists in 36 games for West Kelowna in 2021-22) was taken by the Carolina Hurricanes in the fifth round, 139th overall, at the NHL Draft.

Legault, a Laval, Que product, just wrapped up his first NCAA season at Quinnipiac University. In addition to winning a national championship with the Bobcats, Legault notched two goals and nine points in 40 games as a rookie college player.

Incoming Vees forward MacPherson joins the Flyers

2005-born Penticton Vees recruit Ryan MacPherson went in the sixth round of the NHL Draft to the Philadelphia Flyers. The Windsor, Ont. product was the 172nd overall selection in the draft and is committed to the University of New Hampshire for September 2024.

MacPherson played in 49 regular season games for the Greater Ontario Hockey League’s Leamington Flyers in 2022-23, earning 25 goals and 61 points. He then scored 14 more goals and 38 points in 24 GOJHL playoff contests.

Sens select Chiefs recruit Nikitin

The last player with BCHL ties selected in this year’s NHL Draft was 2005-born goaltender Vladimir Nikitin, who was taken by the Ottawa Senators in the seventh round, 207th overall.

Nikitin, who’s from Kazakhstan, will join the Chilliwack Chiefs for the 2023-24 BCHL season. He spent most of this past season with Barys Astana U20 in the Kazakhstan U20 league.

In 24 games with Barys Astana, Nikitin was 18-6-0 with a 2.07 goals-against average, a .921 save percentage, and three shutouts. He also played two pro games with Snezhnye Barsy Nur-Sultan in the Kazakhstan Hockey Championship.

Vipers and Rivermen connect on a big trade

The Langley Rivermen and Vernon Vipers struck a big trade on Thursday involving three forwards and one defender.

The deal sees 2004-born forward Owen Kim and 2005-born forward Walker Gelbard go from Langley to Vernon, while 2005-born defender Luke Ashton and 2003-born forward Copeland Fricker join the Rivermen from the Vipers.

Kim, a native of North Vancouver, B.C., was fourth in scoring on the Rivermen last season with 15 goals and 29 points in 54 games. According to College Hockey News, he is committed to College of the Holy Cross to play NCAA hockey this fall.

Also from North Vancouver, B.C., Gelbard put up two goals and eight points in 48 games with Langley in 2022-23. He leveled up with four points in six BCHL playoff games. It was his third season in the league.

Ashton also hails from North Vancouver, B.C., and in his second BCHL season, he tallied two goals and two assists in 42 games from the Vipers blueline. He chipped in with a goal and three assists in 10 playoff games in Vernon.

Fricker, a product of Midland, Texas, spent this past season with the Lone Star Brahmas of the North American Hockey League, finishing with two goals and an assist in 10 games. He played 23 games in Vernon in 2021-22 and put up a goal and two assists.

Cents sign Stepanek for 2023-24

The Merritt Centennials have added their second European recruit for the 2023-24 season with the announcement that 2004-born forward Alex Štěpánek will move to the Nicola Valley.

The native of Praha, Czechia played in Finland this past season, spending most of his time with KOOVEE U20 in the U20 SM-sarja before jumping to HPK U20 in the same league. In 34 combined games with KOOVEE and HPK, he compiled six goals and 17 points.

Štěpánek also played one game on loan to KOOVEE’s team in Mestis, which is the second tier of Finnish professional hockey.

MacDonald joins Langley for the upcoming season

The Langley Rivermen announced the commitment of 2006-born forward Noah MacDonald for the upcoming BCHL season. MacDonald is from New Westminster, B.C., and played with the Delta Hockey Academy U18 Prep team in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League this past season. In 24 games, he had six goals and six assists.

He also got into three games as an affiliate player for the Chilliwack Chiefs but didn’t register any points. MacDonald’s dad Doug played 147 games in the BCHL with Langley and Delta from 1985 to 1988.

Bergeron leaves Coquitlam for the QMJHL

The Coquitlam Express is looking for a new athletic therapist and equipment manager after announcing that Gaëlle Bergeron has taken a job in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The Express didn’t announce which team Bergeron was going to or what her role will be.

Bergeron, a native of Rouyn-Noranda, Que., was the athletic therapist and equipment manager for the Nanaimo Clippers from 2018 to 2021. She has a Bachelor of Exercise Science with a specialization in athletic therapy from Concordia University.

Hans commits to Marian University

2002-born forward Deepkaran Hans (one goal in five games with Powell River in 2018-19) has committed to playing NCAA Division III hockey at Marian University, which is located in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Hans, a product of Surrey, B.C., posted 13 goals and 25 points in 41 games for the Dauphin Kings of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League this past season. He tallied three goals and six points in six MJHL playoff games.

McGowan inks an extension with Gherdëina

Forward Brad McGowan (48 goals, 87 assists in 117 games with Surrey from 2009-11) signed a contract extension for 2023-24 with Gherdëina of the Alps Hockey League, which is based in Central Europe.

McGowan, a 33-year-old from Vancouver, BC, had 22 goals and 49 points in 33 games with Gherdëina this past season. 2023-24 will be his fifth season with the northern Italy-based club. He also had seven goals and 14 points in 10 games with Starbulls Rosenheim in Germany’s Oberliga, which is the third tier of pro hockey in that country.