Chiasson Creative

Examining four new Alberni Valley Bulldogs players

The Alberni Valley Bulldogs experienced another deep playoff run this season. To start, the Bulldogs knocked off the Coquitlam Express in seven games in the Coastal Conference quarterfinals.

The team matched up against the Chilliwack Chiefs in the Coastal Conference semifinals and Alberni Valley swept them in four games. The Bulldogs fell in the Coastal Conference final despite pushing the league-leading Surrey Eagles to seven games.

During their deep playoff run, the Bulldogs recruited four players for the 2024-25 roster. Three players are forwards and one is a defender.

This article is about examining these four players. Before that, I will look at the Bulldogs recent playoff history, specifically the years under General Manager and Head Coach Joe Martin.

Martin’s tenure

Martin has served as the Bulldogs Head Coach and GM since 2019. During the 2020 playoffs, the Bulldogs were swept by the Nanaimo Clippers. Because of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, there were no playoffs in 2021. Instead, the Bulldogs competed in the Island Pod and finished second behind the Victoria Grizzlies.

During the 2022 playoffs, Alberni Valley met the Cowichan Valley Capitals in the Coastal Conference quarterfinals. After sweeping the Capitals, the Bulldogs faced the Langley Rivermen in the Coastal Conference semifinals. The Rivermen defeated the Bulldogs in six games.

Last year, the Bulldogs made it to the Fred Page Cup Final for the first time. Alberni Valley swept the Grizzlies in four games in the Coastal Conference quarterfinals and knocked out the Eagles in seven games during the Coastal Conference semifinals. The Bulldogs swept Chilliwack aside in four games in the Conference finals before being taken out in four games by Penticton in the BCHL championship series.

Earlier this spring, the Bulldogs playoff run ended when they lost the Coastal Conference final series against Surrey in seven games.

New recruits

Coming from the Salisbury School in Connecticut is American-born forward Jesse Allecia. Allecia is also a product of the Yale Jr. Bulldogs hockey program where he’s played since the 2021-22 season.

Last season, Allecia played 64 games between the Jr. Bulldogs and Salisbury School, notching 30 goals and 20 assists for 50 points. He is committed to the University of New Hampshire for the 2025-26 season.

The next recruit comes from the Berkshire School. Canadian-born forward Antoine Gauthier has Junior A experience with the Ottawa Jr. Senators of the Central Canada Hockey League. He played for the Jr. Sens in 2022-23.

Aside from attending Berkshire this past season, Gauthier played seven games for the Springfield Thunderbirds 18U AAA team and potted three goals. In 29 U.S. high school prep games, Gauthier posted 21 goals and 29 assists for 50 points. He is off to Dartmouth College in September 2025.

The next recruit played at the RINK Hockey Academy Kelowna in 2023-24. Canadian-born forward McCarthy Richardson has played for several B.C.-based hockey programs over the last five years.

Richardson played at both the Yale and Delta Hockey Academies in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League. While playing for the Valley West Giants 18U AAA team in the B.C, Elite Hockey League in 2023-24, Richardson got into two affiliate games for the Langley Rivermen.

The fourth recruit comes from Lake Forest Academy in Illinois. American-born defender Evan Stastny has spent most of the last four seasons playing at Lake Forest. In 2023-24, he finished with 12 goals and 27 assists for 39 points in 49 games. Stastny has committed to Lake Superior State University for 2026-27.

More players coming

These four recruits are the first batch coming to Port Alberni. There will be more players coming in the next several months and I’d expect that among these recruits will be goaltenders.

Callum Tung is committed to the University of Connecticut for 2024-25 and will attend development camps in the NHL for the Florida Panthers and Calgary Flames. The Bulldogs will need another goaltender next season for sure. Hlib Artsatbanov should have the inside track if he returns next season.

The Bulldogs will also need a new team captain for next season as forward Nicholas Beneteau will attend St. Lawrence University this September to begin his NCAA career.