Kaicee Trott / K*Photography

New Bulldogs recruits: Brady McIsaac and Callum Tung

Before the end of their post-season run, like many other BC Hockey League clubs, the Alberni Valley Bulldogs started preparing for the 2022-23 season, and a handful of new recruits were posted on the league’s website.

Defender Tristan Taylor is coming from the Vancouver NE Chiefs U18 AAA program in the BC Elite Hockey League. Meanwhile, forward Matt Kursonis has committed from St. George’s School of the Canadian Sport School Hockey League.

Additionally, forward Brady McIsaac and goaltender Callum Tung are joining the Bulldogs next season. Both players were teammates on the junior B Port Alberni Bombers of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League.

It’s the latest connection between the teams. The Bulldogs and Bombers share the Alberni Valley Multiplex as a home venue as well as have the same owners. Now, the teams are sharing players.

For this article, I’ll profile both McIsaac and Tung, including how both players came to Port Alberni. Before that, I’ll look at how the Bulldogs and Bombers faired last season.

The Alberni Valley Bulldogs finished the 2021-22 season in first place in the BCHL’s Coastal Conference. Their final record was 35-15-3-1. During the first round of the post-season, Alberni Valley swept the Cowichan Valley Capitals in four games, but in the second round, the Bulldogs were eliminated by the Langley Rivermen in six.

Meanwhile, the Port Alberni Bombers finished fourth place in the VIJHL’s North Division. Their final record was 19-28-2-1 and they were eliminated by the Campbell River Storm in seven games in the first round of the playoffs.

Coming to Port Alberni

Before coming to Port Alberni, McIsaac played for the Cariboo Cougars. He spent the 2019-20 season on the U16 team and was signed with the U18 AAA team for the 2020-21 season, but didn’t play any games because COVID-19 pandemic restrictions caused the BCEHL to cancel their season.

Before the 2021 pod season, McIsaac actually signed with the Bulldogs and played 17 games, scoring one goal and one assist.

Meanwhile, Tung came to Port Alberni after three seasons with a BCEHL program – the Vancouver NE Chiefs.

During the 2018-19 season, Tung played 18 games for the U16 team before getting into 23 games for the U18 squad. He didn’t play any games during the 2020-21 season due to the pandemic.

Tung joined the Bombers in October 2021 and won his first game on Oct. 20 against the Lake Cowichan Kraken.

As for McIsaac, he wanted more playing time than the Bulldogs could offer, so he decided to remain in Port Alberni and play for the Bombers.

Bulldogs general manager and head coach Joe Martin serves as the Bombers’ director of hockey operations and had high praise for McIsaac after his time on the Bombers.

“Brady put himself in a position to play a ton of minutes and be in a leadership role. We think he can be a very good player for us and his time with the Bombers helped in that development,” said Martin in a news release announcing McIsaac’s commitment to the Bulldogs.

Moving up a level

In 29 games with the Bombers this past season, Tung finished with a record of 10-17-0. During the playoffs, he helped backstop the club to a game seven in the first round.

As for McIsaac, he played 26 games for the Bombers during their inaugural season, tallying 23 goals and 21 assists. Both players will fill needs for the Bulldogs organization in 2022-23.

Alberni Valley goaltender Hobie Hedquist is committed to the University of North Dakota for this September and isn’t expected back with the Bulldogs, which means Tung will form part of their new goaltending tandem. Meanwhile, several other players are departing for NCAA commitments.

Stephen Castagna and Ryan Nause are leaving for Bentley University. Meanwhile, forward Josh Zary is off to Long Island University. Zary scored 55 points in 51 games and Castagna notched 51 points in 53 games.

Castagna and Zary were critical to the Bulldogs offense last season and McIsaac’s offensive production will greatly help this coming season.

In the future, there will probably be more future Bulldogs recruited from the Bombers. It’s not much of a stretch to suggest so, given the direct ties between the BCHL team and the VIJHL squad.