The B.C. Hockey League’s annual carding deadline is usually a busy affair, but that hasn’t been the case this year heading towards Saturday’s cutoff.
Last year, there were 17 player transactions the week before the deadline as teams finalized their rosters, either to gear up for playoffs or to ship out talent in exchange for prospects and a chance to rebuild.
As of the Morning Star’s Thursday afternoon press deadline, just three deals had been posted on the league website, and none of them were game changers.
The Vernon Vipers, who begin a three-game weekend tonight (7:00) against the Prince George Spruce Kings at Kal Tire Place, appear content to stand pat, partly because there isn’t much available on the trade wire.
“We like our group a lot,” said Vipers’ assistant coach Kevin Kraus. “There’s not a lot of personnel changes that need to happen.”
Vernon, second in the Interior at 23-11-1-2, host the Alberni Valley Bulldogs (18-13-1-3) Saturday at the Big Wheel before visiting the last-place Surrey Eagles (7-29-0-3) in a Sunday matinee.
The Snakes will look to pounce on the struggling Sprucies (18-15-0-4), losers of three straight, and 3-5-0-2 in their last 10.
The Kings are led by a pair of 20-year-old forwards from Washington State – Jeremiah Luedtke, who has 13-31-44 in 37 games, and speedy Chad Staley, who has 15-19-34 in 29 games.
The Bulldogs, featuring hard-hitting ex-Viper Tyler Povolofskie (1-2-3 in nine games), are fourth in the Island loop at 18-13-1-3. Their playoff hopes took a big hit when they lost sniper Evan Tironese to a season-ending shoulder injury in November.
Alberni’s leading pointgetter is ‘94-born d-man Kurt Gosselin. The Brighton, Mich. product has 12-32-44 in 31 games.
Meanwhile, there are a dozen BCHLers headed to the CJHL Prospects Game, Tuesday, Jan. 20, in Oakville, Ont, and not one of them is a Viper.
The Penticton Vees are sending the biggest contingent, with defenceman Gabe Bast and Jarod Hilderman, and forward Lewis Zerter-Gossage chosen to represent the Canadian Junior Hockey League’s five western circuits (B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario-based SIJHL). Powell River, Langley and Chilliwack each have two players going, while Cowichan Valley, Merrit and Prince George each had one selected.
The Prospects Game was created to showcase the top NHL prospects in the CJHL, as identified by NHL Central Scouting.
Paul Dyck of the Manitoba’s Steinbach Pistons (MJHL) will lead Team West as head coach.
“First of all, I would like to congratulate the players from both teams for earning their position in the CJHL Prospects Game,” said Dyck. “It speaks highly to the quality season that they have had thus far and to their future potential. I am excited to work with this talented group and proud to represent Western Canada in Oakville.”
Alberta has the next most players on Team West with five, while Manitoba has two and Saskatchewan one.
SNAKE BITES: The Cowichan Valley Capitals were involved in two of the three trades, sending Ryan Coghlan (95)(D) to the Nanaimo Clippers in exchange for future considerations Thursday. A day earlier, the Caps acquired the rights to Connor Russell (96)(D) from the Penticton Vees in exchange for future considerations…The other trade saw a swap of ‘95-born forwards, as the Merritt Centennials picked up Zak Bowles from Alberni in exchange for the rights to Luke Bertolucci, currently with the WHL Edmonton Oil Kings.