The birth (and short life) of the BCHL affiliate player draft


(This article was originally posted on Aug. 15, 2020.)

Back in 2011, BCHL governors voted to hold a 15-year-old affiliate player draft in October of that year. The draft consisted of two rounds, with each team eligible to select two players.

According to the league, the idea behind the draft was that teams would be able “to select 15-year-old players for the purpose of affiliating them for the season and introduce them to their team culture and to junior A hockey.”

As affiliate players, the teams didn’t maintain the player’s junior A rights after the season either. 15-year-old players weren’t eligible to be signed as a regular roster player in the BCHL, a rule that is still in effect today.

Teams were able to select a player in each of the two rounds but didn’t have to because the draft was optional. As a result, the Powell River Kings didn’t choose a player in either round while the Cowichan Valley Capitals passed on their second-round pick. Teams selected based on reverse order of finish in the 2010-11 standings.

With almost nine years passing since the draft, I thought it would be interesting to have a look back at the selections, check how their junior hockey careers played out, and see where they are now.

Of the 29 players selected, 21 played at least one game in the BCHL and 13 played at least one game with the team that drafted them.

At 236 games played, defenceman Mitch Meek played the most BCHL games among all drafted players while forward Brett Mennear played the most with the original team that drafted him, skating in 156 games with the West Kelowna Warriors.

First round

1. Prince George Spruce Kings – Kenny Nordstrom, D, Cariboo Cougars (BCMML)

The first player ever selected in the only BCHL affiliate draft in history didn’t play a game in the league. Nordstrom was playing in the Spruce Kings’ own backyard with the major midget Cougars during the season in which they drafted him. The Terrace, BC product put up two goals and seven assists as a 15-year-old.

Nordstrom played one more year in the BC Major Midget League before making the jump to junior B hockey as a 17-year-old with the 100 Mile House Wranglers of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. It is the highest level of junior hockey he would wind up playing as he scored 23 points as a rookie.

Nordstrom has spent the last five seasons with his hometown Terrace River Kings in the Central Interior Hockey League, which is an adult men’s league in Northern BC.

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2. Chilliwack Chiefs – Matt Revel, F, Fraser Valley Bruins (BCMML)

Revel was lighting it up as a 15-year-old in his lone BCMML season when the Chiefs nabbed him second overall. The Abbotsford, BC native finished with 25 goals and 26 assists that year and played two games with Chilliwack as an affiliate. Revel played four games with the Chiefs in 2012-13 but was signed by the Western Hockey League’s Saskatoon Blades as a 16-year-old.

He ended up skating for five seasons in the WHL, mostly with the Kamloops Blazers. He also spent time in his 20-year-old year with the Portland Winterhawks. In total, Revel played 314 career WHL games, scoring 71 goals and 101 assists.

He’s spent the last two seasons playing U SPORTS hockey with the University of British Columbia men’s team. Revel has 13 goals and 14 assists during his time at UBC.

3. Cowichan Valley Capitals – Mitch Meek, D, South Island Thunderbirds (BCMML)

Meek played just one season in the BCMML for the South Island Thunderbirds. In 2011-12 after being chosen by the Capitals, he played the first games of what would become a storied BCHL career. He didn’t have any points in three games with Cowichan Valley as an affiliate player that season.

The following year, he was recruited by his hometown Victoria Grizzlies as a 16-year-old and ended up playing just over two seasons with them. Meek was traded to Vernon early in the 2014-15 season and then to Cowichan Valley in time for the 2015-16 season.

He was on the move again for 2016-17 to Penticton for his 20-year-old year and won a BCHL championship with the Vees. From 2017-20, Meek played NCAA Div. I hockey for Michigan Tech before transferring to Long Island University for 2020-21.

4. Merritt Centennials – Rhett Willcox, F, Valley West Hawks (BCMML)

Willcox’s brother Reece was on the Centennials when his younger sibling was selected by Merritt in the affiliate draft. Rhett played the first of two seasons with the Valley West Hawks in 2011-12 before making his full-time BCHL debut as a 17-year-old in 2013-14.

He played two seasons in Merritt before being traded to Trail during the 2015 off-season. Willcox bounced from the Smoke Eaters to Cowichan Valley, Alberni Valley, and finally Drayton Valley of the Alberta Junior Hockey League for his 20-year-old season.

Since then, Willcox has played three seasons of U SPORTS hockey with Royal Military College, putting up 19 goals and 37 assists in 75 games.

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5. Coquitlam Express – Viktor Dombrovskiy, D, Vancouver NE Chiefs (BCMML)

Dombrovskiy is one of a handful of players selected in the affiliate draft who wound up recruited by other BCHL teams. The Coquitlam product never played for the Express and suited up for the rival Langley Rivermen as a 16-year-old in 2012-13.

After two seasons in Langley, the defenseman was traded to Trail and then on to Prince George as an 18-year-old, finishing his BCHL career with a respectable eight goals and 50 assists in 128 games. Dombrovskiy got an Ivy League education at Harvard from 2015-19 and played 56 career NCAA games for the Crimson, racking up five goals and seven assists.

6. Alberni Valley Bulldogs – Chase Lang, F, North Island Silvertips (BCMML)

Lang played five games for the Bulldogs as an affiliate in 2011-12 and didn’t score any points but they ended up being the only BCHL games he played. After a 61 point season with the major midget Silvertips, he joined the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL as a 16-year-old in 2012-13.

He played four total seasons in the Dub and signed an amateur tryout with the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League in March 2016. Lang split the next two seasons between the AHL and ECHL.

In 2019-20, the Nanaimo product wrapped up his second straight full season in the ECHL, setting career highs as a pro with 19 goals and 29 assists in 57 games as a member of the Jacksonville IceMen.

7. Nanaimo Clippers – Nicolais Gomerich, F, North Island Silvertips (BCMML)

Gomerich was in the Clippers backyard playing with the North Island Silvertips when he was chosen by Nanaimo. This came after he was selected by the Saskatoon Blades in the sixth round of the WHL Bantam Draft earlier that year.

He wound up with a goal and 10 assists in 40 games with the Tips in 2011-12 and played another 34 games with them in 2012-13. The Nanaimo native also got into four games with the Blades as a 16-year-old that season. Gomerich was a full-time WHLer in 2013-14 and put up a goal and four assists in 44 games with Saskatoon.

Gomerich started 2014-15 in the BCHL with Powell River. After 21 games with the Kings, he was released and signed with the Wellington Dukes of the Ontario Junior Hockey League. He spent his 19-year-old season playing junior B with his hometown Nanaimo Buccaneers before joining the Victoria Cougars of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League for 2016-17.

8. Trail Smoke Eaters – Mitchell Foyle, F, Kootenay Ice (BCMML)

Foyle was in the midst of a decent 15-year-old season with the Kootenay Ice major midget team when his name was called by the Smoke Eaters. The Fruitvale, BC product ended 2011-12 with 26 points in 38 games with the Ice. He also played seven games in Trail as an affiliate and notched one assist.

As a 16-year-old in 2012-13, Foyle played 52 games with the Smokies and posted 13 points. He started the following season in Trail but was released after two games and joined his hometown Beaver Valley Nitehawks of the KIJHL.

After two seasons with Beaver Valley, Foyle was recruited by the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s Melville Millionaires for 2015-16. He was traded by the Mills to Flin Flon midway through the season and returned to the Nitehawks as a 20-year-old in 2016-17.

9. Victoria Grizzlies – Ryan Kelm, F, South Island Thunderbirds (BCMML)

The Victoria native was playing for the South Island Thunderbirds when he was selected by his hometown Grizzlies. As a 15-year-old in the BCMML, Kelm notched 11 points in 36 games. He also played two games as an affiliate with the Peninsula Panthers of the VIJHL.

Kelm spent the 2012-13 season with South Island once again and tallied two more points than 2011-12, in 15 fewer games. He signed with the VIJHL’s Westshore Wolves midway through 2012-13 and had six points in 13 junior B games.

He relocated to the North Okanagan Knights of the KIJHL as a 17-year-old and played his final junior season, scoring 13 goals and eight assists in 36 games.

10. Langley Rivermen – Ryan Simpson, F, Fraser Valley Bruins (BCMML)

Simpson had three goals and eight assists in 26 games with Fraser Valley during the season the Rivermen drafted him. As a 16-year-old, he was recruited by the Salmon Arm Silverbacks and played 16 games as a rookie in 2012-13.

He was released by the Silverbacks midseason and signed to play junior B with the Aldergrove Kodiaks of the Pacific Junior Hockey League. Simpson wrapped up 2012-13 with 14 points in 16 games with the Kodiaks.

The Abbotsford native played three games with Aldergrove as a 17-year-old in 2013-14. He also got into two games with the Surrey Eagles and one with the Rivermen to round out his junior hockey career.

11. Westside Warriors – Brett Mennear, F, Okanagan Rockets (BCMML)

Mennear is one of the Warriors’ more memorable players during their history in West Kelowna. He scored 34 points in 40 games with the Okanagan Rockets in 2011-12 before returning the following season and finishing 10th in league scoring as a 16-year-old.

He also played seven games with the Warriors as an affiliate in 2012-13 before embarking on a three-year career in West Kelowna that included winning the Fred Page Cup and RBC Cup in 2016. That summer he was traded to Prince George and finished fourth in BCHL scoring in 2016-17 with 79 points.

The Kelowna native played 10 NCAA games with Bentley University in 2017-18 before joining the Windsor Aces of the unsanctioned Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League as a 21-year-old. He had 22 points in 11 games with the Aces. Mennear spent 2019-20 playing senior men’s hockey with the Bethune Bulldogs of the Highway Hockey League in Saskatchewan.

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12. Surrey Eagles – Ryan Gropp, F, Okanagan Hockey Academy Midget (OMAHA)

Despite being chosen by the Eagles, Gropp ended up playing two games with the Penticton Vees as a 15-year-old affiliate in 2011-12 and scored his first career BCHL goal. He spent 2012-13 with the Vees as a 16-year-old and scored 31 points in 50 games to win Interior Conference rookie of the year.

The Kamloops product started the 2012-13 season in Penticton before jumping to the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds after 10 games. Gropp played four seasons in Seattle and was a second round pick of the New York Rangers in 2015.

Gropp is a veteran of 156 AHL games over the last three seasons with the Hartford Wolf Pack, scoring 29 goals and 29 assists. He’s also played in 18 ECHL games between 2018-20 with eight goals and seven assists.

13. Salmon Arm Silverbacks – Spencer Hewson, F, Pursuit of Excellence Prep (CSSHL)

Hewson scored three goals and 10 assists in 25 games with POE in 2011-12 and also made his BCHL debut with the Silverbacks, playing one game. In 2012-13, the Vernon native played with the Okanagan Rockets and got into four more games with Salmon Arm.

In 2013, he was recruited by the Nanaimo Clippers as a 17-year-old and played 40 games with them that season. Hewson skated in 203 total games with the Clippers, scoring 29 goals and 57 assists. He also served as Nanaimo’s captain as a 20-year-old in 2016-17.

He has spent the last three seasons playing NCAA Div. III hockey with Colby College in Waterville, Massachusettes. Over that time, he’s totaled 11 goals and 28 assists in 64 games.

14. Penticton Vees – Riley Stadel, D, Okanagan Hockey Academy (Midget)

Stadel is another pick in the BCHL affiliate draft who went on to have a storied WHL career. He played one game with Penticton in 2011-12 as a 15-year-old in addition to two games with the Kelowna Rockets.

The defenseman played 49 games as a 16-year-old for Kelowna in 2012-13 and then 3.5 more seasons with the Rockets. Stadel was then traded to the Edmonton Oil Kings during his 20-year-old year of 2016-17.

He played in the Elite Ice Hockey League in the UK from 2017-19 and started this past season with RoKi in Mestis, which is the second highest league in Finland. Stadel finished the 2019-20 season in Poland with Podhale Nowy Targ.

15. Vernon Vipers – Steven Alldridge, F, Pursuit of Excellence Prep (CSSHL)

From Inuvik, Northwest Territories, Alldridge had a goal and eight assists in 22 games for POE during the season he was selected by the Vipers.

He was recruited by the AJHL’s Whitecourt Wolverines for 2012-13 and played 43 games for them as a 16-year-old. As an 18-year-old in 2013-14, Alldridge joined the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL.

Alldridge didn’t score any points with the Winterhawks in 24 games and was traded to Lethbridge the day before the 2014 trade deadline. He had no points in 15 games with the Hurricanes and retired due to injury in October 2014.

16. Powell River Kings – pass

Second round

17. Prince George Spruce Kings – Tyler Povelofskie, F, Cariboo Cougars (BCMML)

Povelofskie posted eight goals and 12 assists as a 15-year-old with Cariboo in 2011-12. He also played one game with the Spruce Kings as an affiliate.

The following season, the Williams Lake, BC product skated with the major midget Cougars once again and was an affiliate with the Alberni Valley Bulldogs, getting into one playoff game. He signed with Vernon for 2013-14 and had five points in 53 games.

The Vipers traded Povelofskie to Alberni Valley in May 2014. He spent 2014-15 with the Bulldogs before signing closer to home with the junior B 100 Mile House Wranglers in 2015. He wrapped up his junior career playing five games for the Wranglers in 2016-17.

18. Chilliwack Chiefs – Mitchell Skapski, F, Fraser Valley Bruins (BCMML)

Skapski had a stellar season in 2011-12 when the Chiefs drafted him. He also got into three games with Chilliwack as an affiliate. The forward played 29 games with the Chiefs to start the 2012-13 season before bolting to the WHL’s Everett Silvertips.

He spent 2.5 seasons in the WHL with Everett, Victoria and Saskatoon before returning to Chilliwack as a 19-year-old in 2015-16. After 34 games back with the Chiefs, Skapski was moved to Salmon Arm at the 2016 trade deadline.

A year later, the Silverbacks flipped him to Cowichan Valley at the 2017 trade deadline. Skapski committed to attend Ryerson University to play U SPORTS hockey and spent two seasons with the Rams from 2017-19.

19. Cowichan Valley Capitals – pass

20. Merritt Centennials – Zack Sanderson, F, Thompson Blazers (BCMML)

The hometown Merritt product was playing up the Coquihalla with the major midget Blazers when the Cents selected him. Sanderson notched four points in 12 BCMML games in 2011-12. He returned to Merritt to play midget in 2012-13 and skated in three games with the Princeton Posse of the KIJHL as an affiliate as a 16-year-old.

He moved to Vancouver Island to play with the Campbell River Storm of the VIJHL in 2013-14 and also got into five games as an AP with the Trail Smoke Eaters. Sanderson scored twice in his appearances with Trail.

The forward returned to Campbell River as an 18-year-old in 2014-15 before being traded to the KIJHL’s Creston Valley Thunder Cats in June 2015. Sanderson only played three games with the Cats in 2015-16 and two games with the Chase Heat in 2016-17 due to injury.

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21. Coquitlam Express – Tyler Sandhu, F, Greater Vancouver Canadians (BCMML)

Sandhu is another player taken in the affiliate draft who had a storied WHL career but didn’t play at all in the BCHL. In 2011-12 with the Canadians, he had 45 points in 38 games and played one game with the junior B North Delta Devils of the PJHL.

At 16, he embarked on a five year WHL career that saw him put up 90 goals and 138 assists in 318 games with Everett, Red Deer, and Tri-City. The Richmond, BC product was captain of the Americans in 2016-17.

He spent the last three seasons playing U SPORTS hockey for the University of British Columbia, scoring 22 goals and 42 assists in 84 games for the T-Birds.

22. Alberni Valley Bulldogs – Alec Dillon, G, South Island Thunderbirds (BCMML)

Dillon joined the VIJHL’s Westshore Wolves as a 16-year-old a season after being selected by Alberni Valley. He joined the Victoria Grizzlies in 2013-14, putting up a stellar 22-6 record with a 2.57 goals-against-average, a .915 save percentage, and two shutouts.

That summer, he was a fifth round draft pick of the Los Angeles Kings and joined the Tri-City Storm of the United States Hockey League for the 2014-15 season. The Nanaimo native then joined the Edmonton Oil Kings of the WHL for his 19-year-old season.

He sat out the 2016-17 season with an injury and joined the BC Intercollegiate Hockey League’s University of Victoria in 2017-18, playing 14 games. Dillon retired after playing three games for the Vikes in 2018-19.

23. Nanaimo Clippers – Liam Shaw, F, North Island Silvertips (BCMML)

Shaw played two seasons for the major midget Silvertips and got into seven games with his hometown Comox Valley Glacier Kings of the VIJHL as a 16-year-old.

He played the next two seasons in junior B with the Glacier Kings before making the jump to junior A with the Melville Millionaires of the SJHL in 2015-16. After 27 points in 54 games as a rookie with the Mills, Shaw returned back to Vancouver Island.

The left winger didn’t play junior hockey as a 20-year-old and joined UVic in the BCIHL. Shaw played 57 games with the Vikes from 2016-19 and tallied 15 goals and 25 assists.

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24. Trail Smoke Eaters – Jeff Rayman, D, Cranbrook Ice Midget AA (SCAHL)

Rayman stayed closer to home as a 16-year-old, playing 49 games with the Fernie Ghostriders of the KIJHL in 2012-13. Rather than play junior A as a 17-year-old, the Cranbrook product cracked the Spokane Chiefs lineup in the WHL.

He played two seasons in Spokane before he was released and joined the AJHL’s Drumheller Dragons for six games in 2015-16. The blueliner finished the season with Tri-City after being signed by the Americans in October 2015.

The Ams waived him after seven games in 2016-17 and Rayman was picked up by the Vancouver Giants as a 20-year-old. After that season, he committed to the University of Lethbridge and played the last three seasons there. He has transferred to the University of Regina for the 2020-21 U SPORTS season.

25. Victoria Grizzlies – Austin Scanks, F, Valley West Hawks (BCMML)

Scanks is one of the most unique stories of the BCHL affiliate draft in that he didn’t play a competitive level of hockey beyond his 15-year-old year of 2011-12.

That season, the forward from Cloverdale, BC had a goal and six assists in 17 games with the major midget Hawks. There’s no record online of Scanks playing any level of hockey after that.

26. Langley Rivermen – Dalton Yorke, D, Vancouver NE Chiefs (BCMML)

The Rivermen grabbed Yorke, a Maple Ridge, BC product, and the defenseman put up a 13 assists season for the major midget Chiefs in 2011-12. He spent another season in the BCMML as a 16-year-old and improved to 20 points.

In 2012-13, he also played one game as an affiliate with the Coquitlam Express for his lone BCHL appearance. Yorke signed with the Kelowna Rockets and played two WHL playoff games.

He spent the next four seasons in the WHL with Kelowna, Prince Albert and the Tri-City Americans, finishing with three goals and 37 assists along with 418 penalty minutes in 238 games. Yorke played two seasons with Löwen Frankfurt of the DEL2 in Germany from 2017-19 before retiring last summer.

27. Westside Warriors – Gen Bryshun, D, Okanagan Rockets (BCMML)

Bryshun was the second straight defenseman selected in the draft when he went to the Warriors. Although he never played in West Kelowna, he carved out a solid junior A career.

The Kelowna native played two more seasons with the Okanagan Rockets, wrapping up his U18 career with five goals and 33 assists in 101 games. Bryshun played one game as an AP with Vernon as a 17-year-old in 2013-14.

He signed with the AJHL’s Okotoks Oilers for the 2014-15 season and was traded to Bonnyville before playing a game. Bryshun spent three seasons with the Pontiacs to round out his hockey career and put up 58 points in 134 games.

28. Surrey Eagles – Mitchell Friesen, F, Valley West Hawks (BCMML)

The Surrey native was lighting up the major midget league when his hometown Eagles selected him in the draft. He finished 2011-12 with 56 points in 40 games for Valley West.

In 2012-13, Friesen signed with the Kamloops Blazers, who had selected him in the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft. He played 46 games as a 16-year-old rookie and spent the next season split between the Blazers and the junior B Kamloops Storm of the KIJHL.

He returned to the Storm in 2014-15 but also played one game with the Blazers and two with the Vernon Vipers as an AP. Friesen signed with

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29. Salmon Arm Silverbacks – Joe Hicketts, D, Okanagan Hockey Academy Midget (OMAHA)

Hicketts had an outstanding 15-year-old season in 2011-12, scoring 54 points in 51 games with the Okanagan Hockey Academy U18 team. The Silverbacks took a flyer on him after he was drafted by the Victoria Royals in the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft.

He played the next four seasons with the Royals, putting up 173 points in 224 WHL games and signed an entry level deal with the Detroit Red Wings as a free agent in 2014.

The Kamloops, BC product played his first pro season in 2016-17 with the Red Wings’ AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids and scored 34 points. He’s bounced between Detroit and the Griffins over the last three seasons, playing a total of 22 NHL games.

Hicketts signed a two-year contract extension with the Red Wings in July 2019.

30. Penticton Vees – Graham Millar, F, Okanagan Hockey Academy Midget (OMAHA)

The Vees grabbed Millar as he was on his way to a 54 point season with the same Okanagan Hockey Academy U18 team that Hicketts was on. The Pentictonite also played a game with the Vees as an affiliate in 2011-12.

He played major midget in 2012-13 and two more games with the Vees before joining the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades in 2013-14. Millar spent the next three seasons in the WHL with Everett before being traded to Edmonton days before the 2017 trade deadline. He finished his Dub career with 97 points in 249 career games.

Later that year, committed to play U SPORTS hockey for the University of British Columbia but didn’t get into a game in 2017-18. He’s spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach for the Thunderbirds.

31. Vernon Vipers – Logan Mick, F, Pursuit of Excellence Prep (CSSHL)

Mick was the last player selected in the draft as Powell River passed on the final pick. He had 21 points in 24 games with the Pursuit of Excellence U18 team in 2011-12 and made his BCHL debut as an affiliate for the Vipers.

The following season, the Armstrong, BC product was a full-time BCHL player at age 16 with Vernon. He spent the next 2.5 seasons in the league, playing with Salmon Arm and Langley before being traded to Brooks of the AJHL in December 2015.

He committed to Quinnipiac University and played NCAA hockey for the Bobcats from 2016-18 before transferring to the University of Lethbridge. Mick played 12 games in U SPORTS in 2018-19 before joining Åmåls SK in Hockeytvåan, which is the fourth level of hockey in Sweden, for the 2019-20 season. He posted 65 points in 31 games, good for seventh in league scoring.

32. Powell River Kings – pass