Notes, quotes and anecdotes from the wonderful world of hockey…Vernon minor hockey grad Tom Arkell will be watching his son, Dawson, play in the prestigious 55th annual Quebec City International Pee Wee Hockey Tournament in February.
“Hockey for my son is going great. He upgraded coaches last season and traded in his dad for Al MacInnis,” joked Tom, in an e-mail to me. “He plays for the St. Louis AAA Blues and they are currently ranked No. 2 in the country. Scott Mellanby also helps at practices when he is in town. Both Al and Scott have boys on the team – great guys and obviously very knowledgeable. Excellent coaches and role models.”
Arkell, who played for the Junior A Nanaimo Clippers and then the NCAA Notre Dame Fighting Irish, is a lawyer in Chicago. He’s still in the game.
“I enjoy coaching and staying active so I am volunteering this season (running practice once a week) as an assistant coach for the Illinois State University hockey team. It is an ACHA Div. II team and it does not offer scholarships. The team is good and it came third in the country last season at the DII club level but no players at this level are likely to advance to a pro team.”
Dawson got his name since Tom was born in Dawson Creek and his parents met in the northern town before marrying and moving to Vernon.
For the record, Wayne Gretzky scored all the goals as the Brantford Turkstra Lumber stuffed a Texas-based team 25-0 in Brantford’s Quebec City Pee Wee tournament opener in 1974.
– The Wheeling Nailers opened the ECHL season Friday night with some familiar faces.
The West Virginia club has Viper grad Scott Zurevinski and former Penticton Vee Denver Manderson in their lineup. They released Sahir Gill, 21, who helped the Vipers win back-to-back RBC Cups in 2009-10, mid week.
Zurevinski, 25, is in his second season with the Nailers. He was being courted by the Vancouver Canucks two years ago after a solid four years with the University of Quinnipiac Bobcats.
Manderson racked up 113 points with Penticton three seasons ago. He produced 40 points as a Wheeling rookie and then played just one game last year after undergoing shoulder surgery.
He is being counted on to quarterback the Nailers’ powerplay this season while centering the No. 1 line and working as a premier penalty killer.
– I asked Surrey Eagles’ head coach Peter Schaefer, 38, if he still follows the NHL after a career which saw him produce 261 points in 572 games. He retired in 2011 after 16 games with Vancouver and 16 in Germany.
“Once in a while,” said Schaefer. “I like football. I’ve got three kids, a billet and I’ve got 22 guys in here so there’s not much time for the NHL.”
On coaching the Eagles, he said: “It’s good. I enjoy working with kids. I enjoy trying to move them on to the next level. I can kind of live through them now that my career’s over.”
Still with the BCHL, Viper centre Michael McNicholas, a California product, on the difference between the Coastal and Interior Conferences.
“It’s huge (difference). I think it’s (Interior) the best conference in the league for sure. A lot of the teams are just more dominant.”
McNicholas has been winning most of his faceoffs while racking up points in his first year with the Vipers. He had 32 points in 35 games with Nanaimo Clippers last year.
– D-man Chris Rygus of the Vees may be the strongest player in the BCHL.
Rygus reeled off 32 reps, at 155 pounds, at the Vees’ training camp. The Mississauga product is a specimen at 6-foot-3, 220 pounds.
Rygus landed in Penticton in a four-team deal involving the Coquitlam Express. He has also been the property of the AJHL Fort McMurray Oil Barons and Victoria Grizzlies. When dealt to the Vees on June 10, Rygus’ rights changed hands three times in one morning.
He was with the Woodstock Slammers when they lost 4-3 to Penticton in the 2012 RBC Cup in Humboldt, Sask.
– Best hockey story so far this year had former Viper Dylan Walchuk (RBC Cup 2010) get handpicked by Team Canada coach Mike Babcock to fill the roster for ball hockey sessions in Calgary.
Babcock chose Walchuk after watching him play with the Dinos in a ball hockey scrimmage, which served as a test event for the Olympic team camp in late August.
“(The Dinos) had a team party the night before, a double-kegger, and we put them through the paces, and that kid was the best kid on the ice by a million miles,” Babcock told the Globe and Mail.
“We phoned him up and said, ‘Do you want to come?’ His stall was next to (Sidney) Crosby’s. He did a good job, he was excellent out there. That’s how life should be. When you do good things, good things happen.”
Walchuk is red-shirting with the Dinos this year since he played 19 games with the NCAA Division 1Northern Michigan Wildcats before briefly returning to Vernon. He finished his Junior career with two years in Spokane of the WHL.