The BC Hockey League says its time for a broad discussion over Hockey Canada's Canadian development model.
In a news release Monday, the BCHL says the country's national hockey body has ignored a document sent months ago entitled "Modernizing Junior Hockey in Canada"
In its white paper on the sport at the junior level, the BCHL says the current model penalizes its players and others on other Junior A clubs across the country who choose college-tracking junior hockey over Major Junior in their own country.
"Our development model penalized players by placing discriminatory regulatory restrictions on their movement and participation in Canada," a summary of the document says.
"This forces many players into decisions to leave the Canadian system entirely. While the rules were likely devised with good intentions, they are proving to be unfair to some of our best young athletes, their individual development, and their families."
There have been parallels drawn to Owen Power, the first overall pick of the Buffalo Sabres in the 2021 draft, who went south of the border to play in the US Hockey League because, as a 16 or 17-year-old, the Ontario native was restricted to playing in his home province.
The league says regulations do not take into account the changing landscape and development patterns since the original model was written 17 years ago. The paper outlines where the system has failed, and measures that should be taken to better develop players in Canada.
"It is important to not the writing of the white paper is not, in any way, related to the recent crisis surrounding Hockey Canada," the document says.
"Our position was tabled with Hockey Canada long ago, and has been ignored.
"However, given the appointment of former Supreme Court Justice Thomas Cromwell to perform an independent review of Hockey Canada's governance structure, the BCHL believes its long-held concerns are relevant to this review."
The BCHL concludes Hockey Canada should support the path created by college-tracking junior leagues, even if it does not fit the ideals of the model.
The restriction of player movement until they have turned 18 is believed to be one of the main reasons why the league chose to go it alone and sever ties with the Canadian Junior Hockey League.
Justin Katz has to know his time will come...soon.
The second year goaltender once again came within moments of his third career BC Hockey League shutout.
As it is, he'll have to settle for another solid performance, leading the West Kelowna Warriors to a 5-1 victory in Victoria and a 2-0 start to the regular season.
Kallus Green and Brennan Nelson each scored twice in the win, while rookie Michael Salandra assisted on hour goals to pace the Warriors offensively.
Green opened the scoring with his first BCHL goal seven minutes into the game.
Salandra gathered a loose puck and fed Green, who teed up a one-timer past Ansel Holt in the Victoria net.
Green doubled the lead six minutes later, taking a pass from Matthew Lee, outwaiting Holt and burying his second from the right circle.
The Warriors doubled the lead in the second. Nelson scored his first of the night on a breakaway, the Jake Bernadet scored his first in the BCHL, converting a feed from Salandra on a two-on-one.
Nelson made it 5-0 seven minutes in the third but, as was the case the night before, were unable to secure the shutout for Katz.
With less than three minutes left, Jacksenn Hungle was sent in all alone after exiting the penalty box, and beat the Warriors goaltender with a wrist shot.
Katz earned his second win of the season, turning away 21 of the 22 shots he faced.
The Warriors now return home to prepare for their home opener Friday against the Wenatchee Wild. The Warriors will wear special orange jerseys during the game in recognition of Truth and Reconciliation Day.
The Penticton Vees won their home opener on Friday against the Trail Smoke Eaters in front of nearly 3000 fans at the South Okanagan Events Centre, with a 7-1 score.
The pre-game ceremony started with raising four more banners to the SOEC rafters, including their 2022 Fred Page Cup championship.
Brett Moravec scored not only the Vees’ first goal of the season but the first goal across the entire BCHL just two minutes into the season.
Moravec was followed up by a goal from Josh Nadeau in the opening frame, to put the Vees up 2-0 in the final minute of the first period.
When the Vees were handed a seven-minute power play in the second, Penticton took the chance to score twice.
First, Spencer Smith made it 3-0 at 7:51, firing a shot stick side from the slot. Then, Moravec picked up his second of the game and tucked the puck on the far side to make it 4-0 at 9:59.
The Vees had another power play advantage in the final minute of the second period and scored again.
Callum Arnott scored with just eight seconds left after Ben Brunette tossed a backdoor pass to him to make it into an open net to make it 5-0.
In the final frame, Dovar Tinling made it 6-0 after a great cross-ice pass by Bradly Nadeau.
Trail ended the shutout bid 13-minutes into the third period. Aydar Suniev replied for the Vees 29 seconds later, on a solo rush to make it 7-1.
The Vees face the Cranbrook Bucks Saturday at 6 p.m. at the SOEC. Tickets are $17 for adults, $15 for seniors. Youth 19 and under are FREE, courtesy of Peter’s Brothers Construction.
Tickets are available at the Valley First box office, or online at www.valleyfirsttix.com
The West Kelowna Warriors put a lacklustre pre season behind them when the games really mattered.
Defenceman Matthew Fusco provided all the offence the Warriors would need Friday, scoring both goals in a 2-1 regular-season opening victory in Cowichan Valley.
Highly touted rookie Ben McDonald assisted on both.
Fusco, who had nine goals and 24 points in 24 games in US prep hockey, got the Warriors on the board six minutes into the goal, as the Warriors took advantage of a five-on-three advantage.
He doubled the lead six minutes later.
The Warriors dominated the opening period, peppering Capital netminder McCoy Bidewell with 21 shots.
Bidewell, who faced 50 Warrior shots on the evening, prevented the Capitals from being blown out of their own rink on opening night.
Justin Katz turned aside 26 shots, and saw his bid for a shutout ruined in the final minute of regulation, on a late Cowichan power play.
The Warriors connected once on four power play chances while Cowichan went 1-2.
The Warriors conclude their two-game season opening road trip Saturday night in Victoria. The Grizzlies opened the season Friday falling 3-2 to Alberni Valley in a shootout.
With a few preseason games under their feet, the Penticton Vees are ready to hit home ice in their season-opening game on Friday night.
After taking home last year’s BCHL championship cup with four straight wins in the final round of the playoffs, there are no plans for the team to let up this year.
“We have 14 guys that want to come back from last year's team that wants to try to do it again, and a whole new group of rookies,” Vees President and Head Coach Fred Harbinson said. “We've got a great leadership group with Frank Djurasevic as our captain.”
One thing Harbinson said he sees every year that he remains proud of with the team is the veterans taking the rookies under their wing.
“Before even the coaches have to do anything, [they] kind of grab hold of the new guys, and explain to them kind of the expectations, how things are done here, maybe a little differently than other places,” he added.
“I think they're all gelling really well together, and I'm sure there will be some ups and downs, just like every other team in our league. And how we deal with that will determine how far we go.”
Goals for this season are similar to what the team achieved last year, with each player finding their strengths to fit into the team.
“At this level, we're always about development, as far as not just the player on the ice, but off the ice as well. I mean, 16 to 20-year-olds are getting sent away from their families. There's a lot of teaching that goes on, and hopefully good mentorship, and that's always our goal every year,” Harbinson said.
“Everybody asked me 'Why do you [continue]? I've been here 16 years now, [they ask] 'Don't you get tired or want to go do something else?' And it's a new group, it's a new challenge every year.”
Now that restrictions are lifted for events, Harbinson said he is looking forward to seeing the SOEC rink full of new and returning fans.
“I'm sure we'll get those numbers, you know, before COVID, we were averaging 3100 to 3500 every night, I'm sure it'll be the same this year.”
The heartbeat of the team for the Vees lies in the fans and the players.
For our organization, it's something that separates us from a lot of other teams in junior hockey in North America. To have that kind of passionate fan base that goes way back into the 50s and 60s says a lot about our community and it makes our guys want to play real hard at home.”
The Penticton Vees face off against the Trail Smoke Eaters at 7 p.m. Friday.
The first 500 fans through the doors will get a 2022-23 fridge magnet schedule, courtesy of Huber Bannister Chevrolet.
Single game tickets for adults are $17, seniors are $15. Youth under 19 are free, courtesy of Peter’s Brothers Construction. Single game tickets are available at the Valley First box office, or online at www.valleyfirsttix.com
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