BCHL Today: League gives return-to-play update, June 1 brings a flurry of moves, and more


BCHL outlines return to play efforts

The BC Hockey League released details of its return-to-play plan on Monday.

Included in the update are details on the creation of a return-to-play task force, the opening of the Hockey Canada Registry, and discussions with the provincial government regarding financial support.

The league’s release is available here.

BCHL commissioner Chris Hebb appears on Global TV

BCHL commissioner Chris Hebb made an appearance on the Global BC Weekend Morning News on Sunday and outlined the details in the return-to-play plan.

In the interview with Global sports reporter Jay Janower (nine goals, 11 assists in 30 games with Abbotsford in 1987-88), Hebb mentioned the league is ineligible for any federal government funding and might go to a full face shield for players if the provincial sport governing bodies recommend it as protection against spreading COVID-19.

In the tweet above, Janower details that the league is looking at a mid-September start with a full 54 game schedule. According to Janower, the league is also looking at approved physical distancing of 25 percent capacity for fans attending games.

Hebb also reiterated to Janower what he mentioned during a Q&A with the BCHLNetwork in April that the league has a number of contingency plans when it comes to playing a reduced schedule in 2020-21.

Hockey Canada confirms Centennial Cup locations

After COVID-19 canceled the Centennial Cup national junior A championship this spring, Hockey Canada announced on Monday the schedule of host teams for the next two years.

As previously announced, Penticton is the host city for the 2020-21 season, meaning the Vees have a guaranteed berth in the tournament, and Estevan, Saskatchewan will host in 2021-22.

Portage La Prairie, Manitoba was supposed to host this year’s Centennial Cup and now only has the potential for it to go there in 2022-23.

June 1 means BCHL teams are open for business

In the junior hockey world, June 1 traditionally marks the official beginning of the off-season because as of that date, in any other year, all games would have been completed with the crowning of the national junior A champion a week or two ago.

Of course, COVID-19 threw a wrench into that, but Monday felt as normal as ever with teams being allowed to officially sign players in the Hockey Canada Registry as well as announce trades. Many of the transactions were negotiated over the last few months, and even into the 2019-20 season, but on Monday, the details came to light with no fewer than a dozen moves made by BCHL teams.

Cents swing three-way deal with Clippers and Express

The Merritt Centennials were part of a three-way trade with the Coquitlam Express and Nanaimo Clippers. The deal first saw the Cents received 2001-born forward Tyler Schleppe from the Express as the future considerations from the January 4 trade that sent 1999-born defenseman Joey Berkopec from Merritt to Coquitlam.

The Centennials then flipped Schleppe to Nanaimo for 2001-born forward Brandon Dent and 2000-born forward Zack Dallazanna, along with future considerations, which is likely cash.

Schleppe, who’s from Vancouver, had 13 goals and 19 assists in 56 games with the Express last season. He was pointless in Coquitlam’s first round playoff sweep against Langley.

Dent is from Prince George and he notched 13 goals and 13 assists in 49 games split between the Clippers and West Kelowna Warriors in 2019-20.

Dallazanna, a Port Moody, BC, product posted a goal and six assists in 46 games with Nanaimo this past season. Both he and Dent are entering their third BCHL season.

Spruce Kings nab Buono from Merritt

The Prince George Spruce Kings traded for 2000-born forward Christian Buono. The Burnaby product is a veteran of 128 BCHL games since first appearing as an affiliate of the Coquitlam Express in 2016-17.

He had 11 goals and 27 assists in 58 games split between Powell River and the Centennials during the 2019-20 season.

Warriors pick up Brooks from Cowichan

The West Kelowna Warriors acquired 2001-born forward Zach Brooks from Cowichan Valley as the future considerations from a January 10 trade deadline deal. The trade also saw the Warriors send 2000-born defenseman Austin Chorney to the Capitals for 2000-born defenseman Maxime Dumas.

Brooks, a native of Bromont, Quebec, had 12 goals and 15 assists in 57 games for the Caps in 2019-20. He posted a goal and three assists in Cowichan Valley’s first round playoff win over Powell River.

Kings swing a deal with PG

The BCHL’s two royal teams got together on a trade that sees 2001-born forward Rowan Miller go from the Powell River Kings to the Prince George Spruce Kings. Miller going to PG is part of the future considerations from a trade last October that saw 2002-forward Brett Pfoh join Powell River.

Miller is a two-year veteran from Scottsdale, Arizona who scored eight goals and seven assists in 47 games this past season for the Kings.

Clippers sent Bennett to West Kelowna

On November 28 last year, the Nanaimo Clippers acquired 2001-forward Brandon Dent from West Kelowna for future considerations.

On Monday, it was announced that the futures heading to the Warriors are the rights to 2000-born goaltender Zach Bennett. The Winnipeg product had a 6-8-2 record with a 2.49 goals-against-average, a .927 save percentage, and three shutouts for the Clippers last season.

He is a veteran of 69 junior a games, having played in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League from 2017-19 before heading to Nanaimo in a trade last summer.

Smoke Eaters move two players out

The Trail Smoke Eaters on Monday announced the completion of the future considerations portion of two trades from last season.

One deal sees 2002-born forward Walker Erickson go to Merritt to complete the January 7 trade that saw 2000-forward Matt Osadick join the Smoke Eaters. Erickson, who is from Surrey, had seven goals and two assists in 31 games as a rookie in Trail last season.

The other deal has 2002-born defenseman Jackson Murphy-Johnson off to Prince George to complete a trade from September 26 that had 1999-born defenseman Jameson Murray go to Trail. Murphy-Johnson, a Burnaby product, put up a goal and four assists in 38 games on the Smokies blueline in 2019-20.

He wasn’t Spruce Kings property for long though, as Murphy-Johnson wound up being flipped to the Grande Prairie Storm of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. He went to the Storm as the future considerations on the January 10 deal that sent 1999-born blueliner Jarin Sutton to PG.

Chiefs solve crease logjam and send Thornton to Lloydminster

The Chilliwack Chiefs made room in their crease by sending 2001-born goaltender Kolby Thornton to the Lloydminster Bobcats for future considerations.

Thornton had an 8-7-0 record with a 3.13 GAA and a .893 SV% in 16 games with his hometown Chiefs in 2019-20. He also got into one playoff game against the Surrey Eagles and didn’t allow a goal in 15 minutes of action.

Warriors get Trotman from Coquitlam

I’ve already addressed two acquisitions the West Kelowna Warriors announced on Monday in getting 2001-born forward Zach Brooks from Cowichan Valley and 2000-born goaltender Zach Bennett from Nanaimo.

One other future considerations deal announced by the Warriors was receiving the rights to 2000-born forward Adam Trotman from Coquitlam to complete a trade from January 9. The original trade had the Express receive 1999-born defenseman Wyatt Head from West-K for 2000-born defenseman Addison Macey and futures, which ended up being Trotman.

Trotman had 16 goals and 28 assists in 58 games with Coquitlam in 2019-20. The Concord, Ontario product has is accepted to Queen’s University for this fall. In their news release, the Warriors say they are leaving the door open for Trotman to play in West Kelowna if he doesn’t head to Queen’s in person in September.

Eagles move Akl and Hendry to Fort Mac

The Surrey Eagles have sent 2001-born forward Hassan Akl and 2002-born defenseman Jordan Hendry to the Fort McMurray Oil Barons of the AJHL as the future considerations from a January 9 trade.

The original trade last winter had the Eagles acquire 1999-born Reece Klassen from the Oil Barons for futures, which turn out to be Akl and Hendry.

Akl, from Chestermere, Alberta, had two goals and three assists in 28 games with the Eagles. He also played 17 games in the AJHL with Calgary and Drumheller, posting five goals and 10 assists between the two.

Hendry, who is from Surrey, played 34 games in 2019-20 and posted three assists. He started the season playing 16 games with Trail, eight in Powell River and finished the season with 10 games in Surrey.

Silverbacks send Semchuk and the rights to Little to Bonnyville

The Salmon Arm Silverbacks owed future considerations to the Bonnyville Pontiacs of the AJHL from a January 9 trade that saw 1999-born defenseman Jeremy Gervais join the Gorillas. On Monday, the futures were revealed as 2002-forward Jarrod Semchuck and 2002-forward John Little.

Semchuck is from Kamloops and had three assists in 31 games for the Silverbacks in 2019-20. Little spent this past season in the Western Hockey League, putting up a goal and four assists in 52 games split between the Vancouver Giants and the Tri-City Americans.

Capitals sign goaltender Shull

The Cowichan Valley Capitals added 2002-born goaltender Jayden Shull for the 2020-21 season. Shull played the last three seasons with the Vancouver North West Hawks of the BC Major Midget League.

He finished the 2019-20 season with a 13-6-1 record to go along with a 2.43 GAA in 20 games.

Vipers ink defenseman Barr

The Vernon Vipers inked 2002-born defenseman Griffen Barr for the upcoming season.

Barr, from Nanaimo, had five goals and 37 assists in 36 games with the Shawnigan Lake School Midget Prep team of the Canadian Sport School Hockey League this past season.

He played two games with the Nanaimo Clippers as an affiliate as well as three games with the junior B Campbell River Storm.

Spruce Kings sign goaltender Trotter

The Prince George Spruce Kings added a goaltender for 2020-21 in 2001-born Aaron Trotter from the Shawnigan Lake School Midget Prep team.

Trotter, who’s from Victoria, had an 11-7-1 record with a 2.57 GAA and a .905 SV% in 19 CSSHL games this past season.

Manderson joins Leafs as return-to-play consultant

Denver Manderson (69 goals, 152 assists in 115 games with Penticton from 2007-10) has joined the Toronto Maple Leafs as a return-to-play consultant as the NHL plans to come back during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Manderson spent 2019-20 as a skills coach with the Ontario Hockey League’s Guelph Storm. He was also a consultant with the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies from 2017-19.

Anhorn wins Union hockey award

Defenseman Dylan Anhorn (10 goals, 42 assists in 111 games with Prince George from 2017-19) was named the winner of the Union College athletics Freshman Athletic Prize on Sunday.

Anhorn, 21, had six goals and 10 assists in 37 games with Union College this past season.