Of Hockey, Hockey, and Hockey.
By Doyle Potenteau
Sept 23, 1998
So when is hockey's obsession with the colour black going to die? Not very soon, if the BCHL has any way with it.
This year, three more teams will be sporting black as a major color on new uniforms, upping the BCHL's total to seven out of 13. Joining the 'Real Men Only Wear Black' mentality crowd are the Chilliwack Chiefs, who changed their colours, but not the symbol, from blue and red to gold and black; Langley Hornets, also now gold and black after ditching their ex-Thunder moniker over the summer; plus the expansion red and black Burnaby Bulldogs.
Oddly enough, the remaining six clubs have various shades of blue as one of their main jersey colors.
Going into the weekend, Prince George Spruce Kings Coach Dale Marquette wanted to turn the Coliseum into one of the 'nastiest' places in the BCHL.
"This is our building, this is our town, and we want to own it all year long," said Marquette last week. "We want teams to come in here and know that fact."
Well, as it turns out, Marquette and his club didn't broadcast their intentions loud enough - either that, or visiting teams really don't care what PG wants the Coliseum to be - as the Kings dropped their first two home stands of the year. The Spruce Beetles lost 6-2 to Victoria Friday night, then 5-3 to South Surrey 24 hours later.
In other Interior Division news, it appears the Vernon Vipers are serious about making anational title run, as they cinched up another solid blueliner to their already impressive core.
Just before the season started, head coach Troy Mick gave up 20-year old Greg Wertz and the rights to Quebec based Dominic Laflamme (both d-men) plus an undisclosed amount of cash to Cowichan Valley for Josh Reed.
The 6'2, 204 lb blueliner has earned himself a solid reputation as being a punishing fighter and hitter during his two years with the Capitals.
The deal took months, but according to Mick, it was well worth the wait. "It was a long process, but they knew that Josh was a perennial all-star in the BCHL, and they weren't going to give him away for nothing."
"He gives us size and experience. He moves the puck well, and he's a local kid. First and foremost, he's from Vernon, and I want as many Vernon kids who can play Junior A."
Reed says he asked for a trade two weeks after the regular season ended. "I just wanted to come and play at home and Vernon is going to have a good team, so hopefully I can get a scholarship this season."
Mick plans to pair Reed, who had 5-20-25 and 115 PIM in 50 games last year, with either Captain Lenny Rampone or assistant Captain Kelly Sickavish.
As for Rampone wearing the C, Mick had nothing but high praise for the ex-Millionaire. "The players voted on the captain, and Lenny won. He's a very vocal individual and the way he plays shows leadership. He really treats first year guys with respect."
Rampone, a tough four-year vet out of Kelowna, turned down an offer from NCAA Division 3 St. Norbert near Green Bay during the off season.
Millionaires Vault Busted Into
South Surrey, Victoria spoil Quesnel's Home openers
By Doyle Potenteau
September 23, 1998
To paraphrase Mad Magazine, the Quesnel Millionaires must be asking themselves, 'What, Us Worry?'
Although the 1998-99 BC Hockey League season just started, the M's are already beginning to feel mounting pressure to win, courtesy of an 0-3 start that recently included a pair of home losses at The Vault.
On Friday, Quesnel was hammered 11-2 by the defending National Champion South Surrey Eagles. Then on Saturday, the M's let an easy victory slip out of their hands, when they allowed the Victoria Salsa to earn a 7-6 come-from-behind win.
In Friday's game, South Surrey jumped out to an early lead and never looked back, scoring three times on rookie netminder Dean Schultz in the first eight minutes.
The Eagles went on to light the goal lamp six more times in the second and twice in the third. Forward Colin Hemingway had a four-point night, scoring once and helping on three other markers.
For Quesnel, Tyler Mounsey and local Dan Law both notched middle frame goals against Peter Wishloff, commonly referred to as the BCHL's top netminder.
Saturday's game was different in that Quesnel - who iced a much bigger and physical club than their Vancouver Island opponents - led at two different stages as opposed to being behind from the get-go.
Mounsey, on a breakaway, and Overton, with a goal-mouth tip, gave Quesnel an early 2-0 lead one minute into the game.
But, that was short lived as the smaller, but faster Salsa knotted the game on two deflected point shots that bounced off opposing players.
After a pair of back and forth goals, including a goal mouth scramble effort by Jason Maxwell late in the first, Victoria went ahead for good in the second and notched two more.
Up 5-4 going into the final frame, Victoria potted an early one to essentially salt the game before adding a backhanded insurance marker with just under three minutes left.
As it turned out, Brian McCormack's backhanded goal was needed as Quesnel mounted a much too-late comeback, with Scott Ganes, who recorded a hattrick, scored on a wrap-around with 5:32 left, then rookie Brent Heaven scored on a wild scramble out front with 13 seconds left.
"I felt we were all over them," said Jason Maxwell, who had four helpers on the evening. "But those first two lucky goals they had helped them stay in the game."
After the game, Victoria coach Campbell Blair was fuming over a third period fight between M's d-man James Harding and Salsa Cam Keith.
Keith, who collapsed after the melee while trying to leave the ice, suffered an eye injury that required medical attention. Blair said the injury came as the result of an obvious eye gouge, not a punch.
"We don't need **** like that in this league. It gives it a black eye. I understand the need for toughness, but...."
On a brighter side, Blair did say M's netminder Seth Stetson was a big factor in the game. "He basically kept his team in there," said Blair of Stetson, who faced 57 shots. "We had a lot of great opportunities to score, but he came up big several times."
The M's now embark on a three-game road swing through the Coastal Conference. On Thursday, Quesnel takes on the expansion Burnaby Bulldogs. The Mills then visit Nanaimo Friday and Powell River Saturday.
University kinesiologists testing BCHL's brain, not brawn, ability
By Rick Kupchuk, Observer Contributor
September 27, 1998
Junior A hockey players across BC are having their brains checked; and some people are saying it's about time.
The tests are part of a research project conducted by a team of kinesiologists from Simon Fraser University, who hope the data will help assess the damage caused by head injuries in sport.
"No one has ever done anything like this. We're breaking new ground," said BC Hockey League president Ron Boileau. "We're hoping we can get something out of this that can be really worthwhile."
The kinesiology team will stop at each BC Hockey League city in the next few weeks, putting each of the 270-odd players through a series of tests designed to record signals from the brain, motor control skills, the speed and ability to make choices for different movements, and other functions.
Then, after building a database of brain activity on each player, the team will sit back, and wait for a phone call from one of the 14 teams in the league. That call will inform the SFU team of a head injury, and back on the road they will go.
"If a player gets a concussion, they'll retest him three or four times during recovery," said Boileau. "It's a concussion survey, very detailed."
Using a specially eqipped van, the researchers began their testing earlier this month in Burnaby with the expansion Bulldogs. Quesnel's date with the BCHL brain van will be October 13th and 14th.
Kinesiology professionals Hal Weinberg and Dave Goodman are the two professors working with doctoral student Mike Gaetz on the project. Funding is being provided by the Rick Hansen Foundation.
"We've been very interested in what's being called plasticity of the brain," said Weinberg. "The real issue here, as far as hockey players are concerned, is when they should go back into playing. They have to evaluate the risk."
Concussions have become the number one injury concern in hockey over the past few years. Brett Lindros, a promising young hockey player with the New York Islanders of the National Hockey League, was forced to retire after one year of professional hockey because of a series of concussions.
Former BCHLer Paul Kariya of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks missed the last half of the last season after a blow to the head. And last month, NHL superstar Pat Lafontaine, seriously injured twice with concussions, retired after doctors told him he might not recover from a third.
"We're quite excited about this," said Boileau. "Concussions are a problem in every league, and everyone has an opinion as to how to handle them. Hopefully, this will help determine what the treatment should be."
SFU won't be offering any advice as to when and if a player should take to the ice after sustaining a head injury. But the information will be passed on to physicians, who can take the information for what it's worth.
And as far as Boileau and the BCHL is concerned, the information is available to any other hockey league.
Mills jump into win column
By Doyle Potenteau
September 30, 1998
A trip to the coast turned out to be just what the doctor ordered for the Quesnel Millionaires.
In a three-game road swing against Coastal Conference opponents last week, Quesnel, who fared well against Southern teams last year with an 8-6 record, earned two wins, including their first of the year.
With a 2-4-0 record before Tuesday night's game against Prince George, Quesnel was tied for fourth with the Spruce Kings in BCHL Interior Division standings.
Last week's results saw Quesnel defeat the expansion Burnaby Bulldogs 5-4 Thursday; lose Friday, as the Nanaimo Clippers hammered the M's 9-2; then rebound Saturday with a convincing 5-1 win over the Powell River Kings.
"I thought it was a good weekend for us," said sophomore blueliner Sam Miller. "We really clicked and worked well as a team, especially in Powell River. That was a great win for us."
GM and Head Coach Barry Wolff said his team's keys to finally marking an X in the win column after an 0-3 start was shooting the puck. Over their three games, the Mills averaged a decent total of just over 31 shots.
"It's something we've tried to target," said Wolff. "The guys have to figure it out that if they want to score, they have to shoot the puck."
Shooting the puck lots were Tyler Mounsey, as the third year BCHL vet picked up three goals and two assists, and Gerald Overton, who notched two goals and three helpers.
Two of Mounsey's goals came in Thursday's game against Burnaby, one a short-handed effort late in the first and the other a power play marker in the second.
Friday's contest saw Nanaimo jump out to a 2-0 first period lead, which they stretched to 7-1 after a five goal second period by the Clippers. The third period was highlighted by the three goals, along with a massive brawl at the midway point. Involved for Quesnel were James Harding, Brendan Hutchinson, Rob Simnor, Dan Law, newcomer Ross Crawford, and David Ficenec.
Against Powell River, the Mills scored all five goals, including three powerplay goals and an unassisted short-handed effort by Harding, in the second period.
Although the Millionaires' roster may be full, Wolff isn't done wheeling and dealing yet. Two weeks after sending netminder Travis Mailhot to Crows Nest Pass of the Alberta Junior Hockey League for cash and a future consideration, Wolff picked up forward Rob Lommer, an 18 year old from Kelowna, a last minute Nanaimo Clippers cut.