Showcase gets 3-year life

The BC Hockey League's Bauer BCHL Showcase will remain in Chilliwack for the foreseeable future.

The league's board of governors have approved a three-year term for Prospera Centre in Chilliwack to continue as the host venue.

The Showcase event has been staged in Chilliwack since its inception in 2012.

During the event, each of the league's franchises congregate in the city for two regular season games.

The event gave numerous college, junior and pro scouts an opportunity to see everyone oin the league at one venue over the four or five day period.

“Knowing we’ll be in Chilliwack and Prospera Centre for at least the next three seasons gives us a great deal of confidence the Showcase will continue to thrive,” said BCHL commissioner John Grisdale.

“The event has gotten smoother each year and we expect that will continue and our players will receive maximum exposure.”

Last season, the BCHL established new marks with three players selected in the first round of the NHL draft and 148 college commitments – more than 120 of those to NCAA Div. I programs.

This season also saw the first former Showcase participants make their NHL debuts in Danton Heinen with Boston and Troy Stecher with Vancouver.

There are many local partners that contribute to the success of the Showcase in areas ranging from accommodations and meals to transportation and volunteering and Chilliwack has proven capable at every turn.

“To be given the honour to host the Showcase for another three years speaks volumes to how our community works together as a team to host such a great economic driver,” said Tourism Chilliwack executive director Allison Colthorp.

Dates for the 2017 Bauer BCHL Showcase will be determined and announced after the BCHL’s annual general meeting in June.


A penalty-filled affair

The West Kelowna Warriors dropped a 4-2 penalty-filled decision to the Penticton Vees Saturday night.

The scoreless first period at the South Okanagan Events Centre went by without much offence from either team.

But Warriors defencemen Jake Harrison was struck high with either a stick or skate and did not return to the game. 

The Warriors opened the scoring 1:43 into the second period when Connor Sodergren hit the net just as a power play expired. 

The Vees tied the game at the 8:56 mark of the second off a goal by Vees captain Nicholas Jones.

Penticton took the lead at 16:01 of the middle stanza as Owen Sillinger fired in a shot from the left face-off circle on an expiring power play. 

The Warriors tied the game at 1:12 of the final period as Chase Stevenson scored his fifth goal in seven games. 

But the Vees took the lead back three minutes later as Grant Cruikshank took an indirect pass off the boards and got behind the Warriors defence, beating net minder Gabriel Morency through the five hole. 

They added another at the 5:51 mark of the third with a power play goal by Chris Klack.

Then, things got ugly.

The Vees' Ryley Risling was assessed a five-minute major penalty for a blow to the head that started a ruckus and saw the Warriors' Scott Allan and Vees' Kenny Johnson drop the gloves. All three received game misconducts.

Nic Jones and Connor Sodergren traded blows later in the period, and the game ended with Chase Stevenson being assessed a blow to the head major penalty.

Warriors snakebitten in loss

The West Kelowna Warriors couldn't buy a goal Friday night.

The Warriors missed the target as much as they hit it during a 2-1 loss to the visiting Vernon Vipers.

West Kelowna had chances to get a goal or more with the man advantage, but squandered a brief five-on-three in the second period, and a four-minute power play when down a goal in the third.

"It's a 2-1 game and we need to find a way to score," said head coach Rylan Ferster.

"It's no secret we don't sore a lot of goals, but we don't give up a lot of goals. Typical of the kind of game we are going to have,...we just came out on the wrong end of the score tonight."

Ferster said the team had some good looks in the third but couldn't bury their chances.

At the other end, the Vipers scored both of their goals with the man advantage.

Brett Stapley scored both. The first, a wrist shot from the right circle hit a leg in front and went in. The second, a slap shot from nearly the same spot that deflected off a Vernon stick past Cole Demers.

The Warriors didn't get those bounces Friday.

West Kelowna's lone goal came in the dying moments of the second period.

Quin Foreman stole a loose puck at his own blueline and outraced two Vipers to break in all alone, where he beat Darion Hanson high to the glove side.

Foreman had a few good looks in the third as well but couldn't find a way to beat Hanson.

The game was the first for the Warriors since news broke earlier this week that team owner Mark Cheyne has an offer pending to sell the team to a Lower Mainland businessman, who would move the team to the Sungod Arena in Delta.

Team captain Nick Rutigliano said the players have talked about the news, but they can't let it bother them because they still have games left to play.

"We're still in West Kelowna, so we just have to brush all the rumours aside because we have hockey to play.

"We're getting down to the end of the regular season, and we want to make the playoffs and we want to make a push. We have to put all the distractions aside and look straight forward."

The Warriors, third in the Interior Division, a point better than Trail and Merritt, play in Penticton Saturday night.

That begins a stretch of six straight on the road. The Warriors don't play again at home until Feb. 4, when they host the Coquitlam Express.


The loss of a rival

For the Penticton Vees, moving the West Kelowna Warriors will mean one fewer rival nearby that fans can see their team play on the road.

Warriors owner Mark Cheyne confirmed Wednesday morning the team has an offer pending, with the potential new owner set to move the team to North Delta's Sungod Arena.

"It's a business, and it starts with ownership – we're going to lose a really good owner, there," Penticton Vees head coach and general manager Fred Harbinson said. "West Kelowna's done everything possible there to make it work."

For Penticton, moving the Warriors means fans won't have that nearby rival to support the Vees at during away games.

"Our fans go and travel there when we play, and vice versa," Harbinson said. "It'll be difficult to see them go."

On top of an easy travel for fans to go to away games, Harbinson adds home games against the Warriors riles up the fanbase as well, which will be lacking if they move or dissolve.

"When we play Vernon, when we play West Kelowna, yeah, all the fans kind of get into it, and now we're going to lose one of those teams."

But Harbinson said the most important thing for the league is the loss of what he calls a good owner.

"At the same time, as president of this team, I can't disagree with the fact that Mark Cheyne wants to sell the team," he said. "It'll be one thing if they didn't do things the right way – they have. I can attest that they, their guys were in the community all the time, they've put winning product on the ice."

Harbinson also pointed to the Warriors winning a national championship, but the team "still (gets) eight, 900 people a game."

He adds while the proximity of the Kelowna Rockets likely has something to do with the team's inability to draw a crowd, a lack of centralization in West Kelowna may also have an impact.

"Junior has a lot to do ... with community," Harbinson said. "There's no real downtown, it doesn't have a city feel, it's more of a suburb of Kelowna, and yes the Rockets are there, of course that's what it is."

Vees' View - Jan. 18

Dustin Godfrey

With two wins and one loss last week, the Penticton Vees have maintained their place at the top of their division and second in the league.

In this week's Vees' View, Head coach Fred Harbinson talks about the 3-2 loss in Merritt on Friday, which fit between a 4-2 win at home against the West Kelowna Warriors and a 6-0 win at home against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs.

Harbinson also talks about how new player Taylor Sanheim is fitting into the team.

The Vees are currently sitting at second in the league, with 63 points to the Wenatchee Wild's 70 and 61 from both the Chilliwack Chiefs and the Victoria Grizzlies.

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