Around the BCHL: West Kelowna Warriors lose defenceman to NCAA

Around the BCHL: West Kelowna Warriors lose defenceman to NCAA

Around the BCHL is a look at what’s happening in the league and throughout the junior A world.

Welcome to the December 13, 2018 edition of Around the BCHL.

This will be the last one for two weeks while the league (and this writer) enjoys a well-deserved Christmas break.

Happy holidays!

The West Kelowna Warriors took a hit earlier this week with defenceman Kyle Koopman leaving to join the NCAA Providence Friars.

You don’t often see this. Personally, in all my years covering the Chilliwack Chiefs and the Penticton Vees, I can’t recall a player leaving midseason to go play college hockey. It’s almost as rare to see a player go the other way, though I’ve seen a couple instances where players left the NCAA ranks to join a BCHL team (usually because of an academic issue that made them ineligible to play at their previous level).

But Koopman’s gone, leaving the Warriors with a void to fill.

The 20 year old wasn’t with West K long. He played just 18 games and recorded just eight assists.

“The loss of Kyle will not only be felt on the ice but in the dressing room as well,” said Warriors head coach and general manager Geoff Grimwood in a team news release. “It hurts our team right now but this league is about progressing these men on to the next level. We believe Kyle is more than ready for college hockey right now and we want to wish him the best of luck in Providence.”

The Warriors (20-14-0-1) are fourth in the Interior division and seem a solid bet to make the playoffs. With Koopman gone the team is running with four 20 year olds, forwards Chase Dubois, Bennett Norlin and Calvin Tilsley and defenceman Anthony Bishop.

It will be interesting to see if Grimwood goes shopping for another veteran before the trade deadline.

——————————————————————————————————————————-

The Victoria Grizzlies had a scholarship announcement Wednesday, with forward Ryan Nolan committing to Merrimack College.

Victoria Grizzlies forward Ryan Nolan puts up points and plays a heavy physical game. (Lindsey Horsting/News Gazette staff)

The 20 year old is in his second season with the Grizzlies, collecting 13 goals, 28 points and 63 penalty minutes in 32 games.

I’ve always thought of the Merrimack program as a friend to the BCHL and I’m surprised to learn there are only two BCHL grads on this year’s roster. Wenatchee’s August Von Ungern-Sternberg and Alberni Valley’s Christian Simeone are freshman forwards, with the bulk of the team hailing from the NAHL and USHL ranks.

Hopefully there’s a trend starting where Merrimack coach Scott Borek starts looking north of the border for talent.

——————————————————————————————————————————-

The Vernon Vipers got a King Kong sized monkey off their back Wednesday night with a big road victory over the Trail Smoke Eaters.

Defenceman Mitch Andres scored his first of the season 1:04 into overtime, giving the Vipers their first OT win of the season. That’s notable because they’ve lost nine games in extra time this year, six in OT and three in the shootout.

Vernon was due to have some bad-luck regression to the mean and who knows, maybe this gives them the psychological boost they need to go on some sort of run. For all their woes this season the Vipers are still a .500 club at 12-12-6-3.

One more bit of hope for Vernon, new goaltender Bradley Cooper has played three games for the Vipers, stopping 85 of 90 shots.

Looks like an excellent pickup at a very important position.

Meanwhile, the Smoke Eaters are on a downward spiral, losing eight of their last 10 games.

I saw them live last Sunday as they were manhandled 7-2 by the Chilliwack Chiefs. It was their third road game in two-and-a-half days, so I cut them a little slack, but they were a lifeless team in that game.

It’s worth noting though that they’re only two points behind Vernon and four behind Salmon Arm in the Interior division. One good stretch could change the picture significantly, but the team I saw last weekend doesn’t look like it’s primed for any kind of turnaround.

——————————————————————————————————————————-

The answer to the Shaw Centre upgrade mystery (which really wasn’t much of a mystery).

——————————————————————————————————————————-

It’s still teddy bear toss season in the BCHL, and Wenatchee has put together a nice video reminiscing about years gone by.

Eric Welsh is the sports editor at the Chilliwack Progress and has been covering junior A hockey in B.C. and Alberta since 2003.

Email eric.welsh@theprogress.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

CVRD offices on Ingram Street will remain closed for another 14 weeks after flooding last month. (File photo)
CVRD headquarters closed for another three and a half months

Building significantly damaged during water leak

Victoria police are asking for help locating high-risk missing man Derek Whittaker, last seen in Victoria April 12. (Courtesy of VicPD)
MISSING: Police searching for Derek Whittaker, last seen in Victoria

Whittaker believed to be driving 1994 red Volkswagen Golf

The IIO is investigating after a police dog bit a man during a traffic stop near Ladysmith on April 17, 2021. (Black Press Media stock photo)
IIO investigating after police dog bites man near Ladysmith

RCMP dog bit man during traffic stop on Friday, April 17

Possible COVID-19 exposures were reported at Maple Bay Elementary between April 12 and 15. (Google Maps screenshot)
Possible COVID-19 exposure reported at Maple Bay Elementary

Exposures may have occurred between April 12 and 15

Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and vacation bookings are being increased in B.C. (B.C. government)
Out-of-region B.C. vacation bookings, RV ferry reservations to be refused

B.C. extends COVID-19 indoor dining, group fitness ban until May 25

Sunday’s storm rocked one of the ferries crossing Kootenay Lake. Photo: Dirk Jonker
VIDEO: Storm makes for wild ferry ride across Kootenay Lake

The video was captured by ferry employee Dirk Jonker

Dr. Bonnie Henry gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
BREAKING: Toddler marks youngest British Columbian to die related to COVID-19

Child one of eight people to die from virus this weekend

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Chakalaka Bar & Grill remains open in defiance of orders from Island Health to close. (Cole Schisler photo)
Island Health seeks injunction against restaurant defying COVID-19 orders

VIHA says Ladysmith-area Chakalaka Bar and Grill also violating water and sewer regulations

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is a independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. to open up AstraZeneca vaccines for all people 40+, set up clinics in hot spots

A total of 13 neighbourhoods and communities will receive the AstraZeneca vaccine

Carver Ken Sheen had almost finished work on a large cowboy carving commissioned by the City of Williams Lake to replace the original overlooking the Stampede Grounds when fire broke out Friday, April 18 at his property between Williams Lake and Quesnel. (Pine River Carving Facebook photos)
Cow boss statue destined for Williams Lake Stampede Grounds goes up in flames

Carver Ken Sheen lost the statue, all his tools and his shop in the blaze

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains. (Hansard TV)
B.C. moves to protect employee pay for COVID-19 vaccination

Most won’t need to take time off work, labour minister says

Most Read