New den members: Looking at more Victoria Grizzlies recruits

After my previous article examing new Grizzlies players, the list was updated, and the B.C. Hockey League website now shows three more players set to join the Grizzlies roster.

Heading the Grizzlies this season are Spencer Caines, Luke Chappelle, and Chase Pirtle. They are part of the 10 players listed on that BCHL page.

Looking at these recruits reveals several similarities to former Grizz players. For example, Caines is from Newfoundland, while alumni Reegan Hiscock and Alex Newhook both hail from the province as well.

Related: New den members: Examining new Grizzlies recruits for 2023-24

Chappelle comes from the Maine Nordiques U18 AAA hockey program. Former Grizzlies goaltender Ansel “Gus” Holt played for the same program before making the jump to junior hockey.

Both Chapelle and Pirtle are import players and so far, the only U.S. players the Grizzlies have recruited. The rest are Canadian-born. This article is about Caines and Chappelle’s paths to Victoria, but before that, I need to add an asterisk to Pirtle’s name.

According to Elite Prospects, Pirtle will attend Cornell University for the 2023-24 season. For this article, I’ll go off the information provided by the BCHL recruits page, which hasn’t always been accurate in previous years.

In past years, the page said Jack Brandt would join the Grizzlies for the 2022-23 season, but he ended up staying in the United States to play. It’s something I wrote about in a past article highlighting Victoria’s recruits for that season.

Caines’ path to Victoria

Caines’ hockey career of record began with the Ontario Hockey Academy Mavericks U15 AAA team. Caines was teammates with Powell River Kings forward Ryder Ringer on that OHA squad.

From 2018 to 2020, Caines played 60 games for the U15 AAA team and finished with seven goals and 24 points. In 2019-20, the Pasadena, Newfoundland product also played two games for the OHA Gold team.

He didn’t play any games during the 2020-21 season due to COVID-19 restrictions. For the following season, Caines joined the Western Kings U18 AAA team of the Newfoundland and Labrador U18 Major Hockey League. The Western Kings play in Corner Brook, Newfoundland.

Over the last two seasons, Caines played 62 games for the Western Kings U18 team, scoring 48 goals and 87 points.

Chappelle’s journey to Victoria

Chapelle’s hockey career of note began with the Belle Tire Youth Hockey program. From 2018-20, Chappelle, who makes Trenton, Michigan home, played for the 13U and 14U AAA teams respectively.

The following season, he joined the Compuware Youth Hockey program. During the COVID-19-impacted 2020-21 season, Chappelle played on Compuware’s 15U AAA team and posted a pair of assists in six games. In the 2021-22 season, he moved up to the Compuware 16U AAA team and broke out offensively, potting 16 goals and 59 points in 87 games.

This past season, Chappelle played for the Maine Nordiques Youth Hockey Club. He is now the second Grizzlies player recruited from the Nordiques 18U AAA after Holt. Across 67 games with the Nords, Chappelle scored 25 goals and added 40 assists. Also in 2022-23, Chappelle got into one game as an affiliate player with the North American Hockey League’s Johnstown Tomahawks.

Pirtle’s status and Skogstad’s arrival

As stated above, according to Elite Prospects and College Hockey News, Pirtle is committed to Cornell University for the 2023-24 season. Since he is a 2005-born player, Pirtle is eligible for three more seasons of junior hockey. If he ends up in Victoria, he’ll be the tenth player the Grizz has recruited to this point.

Last season, Pirtle played 56 games for the Mount St. Charles Academy U18 AAA team, posting 24 goals and 51 points. He was ranked 189th among North American skaters for this year’s National Hockey League Draft but ultimately wasn’t selected.

Before his time at Mount St. Charles, Pirtle was part of the Rockets Hockey Club 16U Premier team in 2021-22. He impressed with 32 goals and 98 points in 69 games. In the two previous seasons, the product of Far Hills, New Jersey attended Delbarton School in Morristown, New Jersey. He also made appearances with the North Jersey Avalanche 16U AAA club in 2020-21 and Philadelphia Hockey Club 14U AAA in 2019-20.

Pirtle also has junior hockey affiliate experience with the Youngstown Phantoms of the United States Hockey League. He played a single game for them as an affiliate player during the 2021-22 season. The Phantoms had selected him 16th overall in the second round of the 2021 USHL Futures Draft.

Meanwhile, on June 1, the Grizzlies completed a trade made in January. On Jan. 2, Victoria traded 2004-born defender Michael Adamek to the Prince George Spruce Kings for future considerations.

Those future considerations end up being 2005-born forward Brayden Skogstad. During the 2022-23 season, Skogstad played 31 games for the Spruce Kings, totaling one goal and two assists. Skogstad is a product of the Okanagan Rockets AAA U15 and U16 teams and in the season before being recruited by Prince George, he played in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League and RINK Hockey Academy in Kelowna, B.C.