Mills outpace Kings in high-scoring game
October 4, 1998
Quesnel 10 Prince George 8
Here's a good trivia question: when was the last time the Quesnel Millionaires scored 10 or more goals in a winning cause?
Get the history books out sports fans, because the answer lies way back. Just over four years ago, on September 16th, 1994 Quesnel pasted the Fort St. John Huskies 11-2.
But, thankfully, the 1998-99 Quesnel crop ended that four-year drought Tuesday night, managing to outscore Prince George 10-8 in a wild, goal-fest storm of a game.
Quesnel coach Barry Wolff, who's club now improves to 3-4, said the high scoring affair wasn't typical of the hard-nosed, fight-filled games fans are used to seeing between the two Cariboo arch-rivals.
"I thought it would be physical like usual, but it sure didn't work out that way," said Wolff afterwards of the match that had no melees or extra-curicular activities.
The two clubs traded eight goals in the first period, then two more in the second, before Quesnel jumped out in front for good, notching markers at 10:32 and 14:31 to go ahead 7-5. Two more middle frame goals had the homeside up 9-6 going into the third, which they stretched at 7:01 to 10-6 before a final, last gasp effort by Prince George, that saw the goal light lit twice more.
For the M's, Rob Simnor and Scott Ganes each scored hat tricks, while defenceman David Ficenec collected five helpers for the Mills. Others to figure in on the scoring were Jason Maxwell, Dan Law, James Harding, and Tyler Mounsey.
Quesnel's ninth and tenth goals, second and third period markers respectively, proved to be backbreakers, as both were three-on-five shorthanded efforts. Mounsey and Ganes took advantage of some poor passing in Quesnel's zone that eventually led to break away goals.
For Prince George, Richard Cihak, aquired from Langley over the summer, scored six times in a losing cause for the Kings.
Although his team came out on top in the first Mills-Spruce Kings meeting of the season, Wolff said his team could have had a better game, especially starting netminder Seth Stetson, who logged all 60 minutes and stopped 51 shots en route to his third win.
"(Stetson) certainly didn't have his best game," said Wolff of the 18-year-old BCHL rookie. "A lot of those goals Cihak scored were shot from everywhere, and I don't think he was ready or prepared for that."
Millionaire helps nab escaped suspect
October 4, 1998
On the ice, Brad Burns shows some impressive puck handling, but it was his fancy footwork off the ice that saved the day when the Millionaires were in Nanaimo on September 25th.
"I was outside the hotel on a bench reading a paper and I heard this person say, 'stop,'" said Burns.
He looked up to see a man running past. There was a plain clothes policeman chasing the man, but he was dressed up.
"I was in runners and track pants, more quick for the situation," said Burns. He joined in the chase and the man turned around and was about to throw a rock.
"The cop came - he had pepper spray and his gun drawn,"
The man started running again, Burns caught him, tackled him, and the RCMP handcuffed him.
"He was in Sheriff custody, and he had escaped. They were pretty mad to say the least. They arrested him for evading police custody."
Burns is modest about his part in the whole affair. "I helped out, but I didn't think it was a big deal."
Expanded BC Hockey League plays on the level
Story by Stuart Hunter, Sports Reporter, The Province
October 6, 1998
The BC Hockey league is off to a somewhat unpredictable start in this, it's 39th year, and Ron Boileau could not be happier.
Boileau, the longtime league president, predicts a season of top-notch shinny where parity rules, and fans can expect the unexpected such as expansion teams knocking off national champions.
"We're off to a good start," said Boileau, 50 and now in his ninth year as president, of the 14 BCHL teams now battling it out for supremacy in three divisions. "Anybody can win on any given night."
"Junior Hockey is unpredictable as hell, but it's good for the league to keep teams on equal footings."
Numerous rule changes have been implemented geared towards parity and helping teams save money. Among them: reducing rosters from 20 to 18 (16 skaters and two netminders), limiting imports to six per team from eight, reducing carded players from 25 to 21, and requiring teams to have four signed rookies.
"It's been a big adjustment for the coaches and teams," admitted Boileau. "But, all the new rules are geared toward making the teams more (cost efficient)."
The league also has new alignment this year with the eight team Coastal and six squad Interior Conferences. The Coastal Conference is now divided into the Island and Mainland divisions, home to the expansion Burnaby Bulldogs.
The defending national champion South Surrey Eagles sit atop the Mainland Division after opening with 5 straight wins.
Victoria Salsa also look very sharp in first place in the Island Division while the always-tough Vernon Vipers are out front in the Interior Conference powered by the likes of scoring leader Lanny Gare and sniper Ryan Bayda.
Crowds, too, have been good. About 1,700 South Surrey fans at the season-opener saw Eagles goaltender Peter Wishloff and his crew trot out the Royal Bank Cup (National Championship), Doyle Cup (BC and Alberta Championship), Subway Cup (BCHL Champ), Abbott Cup (Western Canadian Championship), and Mowat Cup (BCHL/RMJHL Champ).
2nd Annual Fishing Derby
The Quesnel Millionaires held their 2nd Annual Fishing Derby on October 4th from 8am until noon. A great time was had by all, with 23 fish being caught in total. Ron Halvorson was the Adult winner, as he reeled in a 2 1/8 pound fish early on in the morning. Ron wins 2 seasons tickets from the Quesnel Millionaires. Dusty Bergeron took second place and picked up a rod and reel from Cariboo Fly and Tackle. Third and Fourth place, won by Jim Wood, and Millionaire player Brent Heaven, both received BCHL T-shirts for their efforts. Dusty Vachon was the winner in the Child's category, taking home a rod and reel, along with a tackle box, all donated by Cariboo Fly and Tackle. Winning Second and Third place for children was Braden Wood and Greg Armstrong. Both of these boys took home a Millionaires replica jersey! The winners of the hidden weight contests were Jim Wood, and Brian Vachon, who both picked up $25 gift certificates from Cariboo Fly and Tackle. A barbeque lunch and horseshoe tournament followed the derby. Be watching for the Mills 3rd Annual Fishing Derby - you don't want to miss it!
M's let easy win slip away
October 7, 1998
Any Millionaire fans out there who have a spare pair of handgrips? If so, then drop them off at the local Jr. A Hockey club's doorstep, as the Mills need to work on hand strength and how to hold onto something.
Over the weekend, Quesnel split a pair of homestands, losing 6-5 to a very beatable Nanaimo Clippers team on Friday night, before doubling up a weak Langley Hornets squad 6-3 Saturday evening.
Against Nanaimo, Quesnel blew a 5-3 third period lead and let two easy points slip from their grasp, as the Clips scored three unanswered markers in the final frame to earn a come-from-behind win.
"We really let one get away there," said M's head coach Barry Wolff afterwards. "We should have beat them."
Nanaimo's sixth goal, scored with only 58 seconds left, was controversial said Wolff, as it appeared to be offside.
Notching goals for Quesnel Friday were Ross Crawford and Gerald Overton with two each, plus Tyler Mounsey. Netminder Dean Schultz, who faced 48 shots, picked up an assist on Overton's second goal.
In Saturday's game, a literal back and forth contest until late in the second when Quesnel went ahead for good 4-3, Overton netted another pair while Scott Ganes collected three helpers.
Up next for the M's is a three game road trip, as they take on Langley Friday, Chilliwack Saturday, and Merritt Sunday.
Stuck with one too many 20-year-olds, the M's traded d-man Brad Burns to Fort Saskatchewan of the SJHL last week for an undisclosed amount of cash. Burns, who played a handful of games with Quesnel last year and didn't dress the last five games, wasn't the only one released, as the M's also announced they released forward Rich Vertanen, who only suited up twice for the locals.
BCHL Goal Production Going up
October 14, 1998
Goal Judges are getting a good workout so far this year in the BC Hockey League and, according to many General Managers, off-season rule changes are part of the reason.
Prince George Spruce Kings GM Len McNamara has seen his club score as many as 12 goals in a single contest, and give up as many as 10 - items that have afflicted several of the BCHL's 14 clubs.
In the 21 league games played between Septmeber 29th and October 8th, 182 goals were scored, an average of 8.66 per game - up slightly from the average of just over eight last year.
McNamara says that can be attributed to new rules that limited players roster size. Last year, the BCHL clubs were allowed to go with 18 dressed skaters, the equivalent of four forward lines and six defencemen.
This year, clubs are permitted only 16 players, a move that has effectively eliminated the fourth line. "Maybe what we've lost is the fourth line of pluggers and scrappers," McNamara says. "I think teams have gone to their most skilled guys and thats why we're seeing the higher scores."
The Quesnel Millionaires have seen their goal-scoring production also jump slightly. During the month of September, the M's averaged 4.66 goals per game, up from 4.12 last September.
Troy Mick, Vernon Vipers head coach, agrees the down-sizing of player rosters has resulted in an offensive upswing.
Mick, who's involvement in the league goes back 19 seasons, says with the fourth line all but eliminated, highly skilled players are being given more opportunity to shine.
Teams that can roll three scoring lines over the boards, he adds, are burying those who can't. "If you've got three solid lines, you're going to be able to take advantage of some of the teams that only have one good line. That's where the goals are coming from."
BCHL President Ron Boileau says the move to reduce player rosters was made in an effort to give active players more ice time and better develop them for NCAA college hockey.
Road Trip a Forgettable one
Return Matchup with Chiefs up next for M's
October 14, 1998
The Quesnel Millionaires did not live up to their slogan of "Lookin' Great for '98" over the weekend.
In a three-game road swing through the Lower Mainland and Nicola Valley, the Mills were offensively flatter than a piece of gum on the bottom of a running shoe, losing 5-1 to Langley Friday; 10-3 to Chilliwack Saturday, and 6-2 to Merritt Sunday.
"We actually had a good weekend," said M's GM/Coach Barry Wolff. "We were in every game, it's just that we came up short scoring goals."
After getting doubled up earlier this month 6-3 in Quesnel, Langley returned the favour Friday night, as the Hornets pasted the M's at home, out shooting their opponents 40-29 en route to their 5-1 victory.
Ex-Millionaires Glendon Cominetti did most of the team's damage, scoring twice, including the winner halfway through the first just seconds after Quesnel blueliner David Ficenec knotted the score at 1-1. Ryan Buckman, whom Quesnel traded to Langley after aquiring his right's over the summer from Cowichan Valley, opened the game's scoring just 2:26 into the match.
Saturday night's matchup proved to be the most interesting one of Quesnel's three games. Despite dominating the first period, Quesnel was outscored 4-1, as the Chiefs managed to dent twine three times on starter Dean Schultz after taking just eight shots.
Schultz wound up taking an early shower, not because of poor performance, but rather due to a scrap with his Chiefs' counterpart, Jason Montgomery, six minutes into the middle frame.
As the score was run up, so did the tempers, leading to a fight-filled third period. Involved in extra-curriculars for Quesnel were James Harding, Adrian Paolinelli, and Craig Tressierria.
"Chilliwack's always been cheap with the stick and they always like to slash," said Wolff. "So our boys answered the bell late in the game, and showed them what we were made of."
Oddly enough, Quesnel wasn't ougunned, as both clubs managed 46 shots on net. Notching Quesnel goals were Dan Law, Tyler Mounsey, and David Ficenec.
For Chilliwack, Jamie Weiss, Nathan Martz, and Nolan Graham all scored twice. Graham also collected three helpers for a five point night.
The M's didn't start off on the right foot in Merritt Sunday, as Quesnel was whistled for too many men just 1:08 into the first. That penalty didn't cost them, but several others did, as the Cents wound up going four for nine on the powerplay.
Wolff's boys - who outshot Merritt 32-24, including 18-6 after 20 minutes - had several chances to do the same, but went zero for six with the extra man.
Scoring for Quesnel were Ross Crawford and Scott Ganes with his seventh of the season. For Merritt, Shane Lukinchuk notched two of his team's first three goals. Linemate Brad Carpenter recorded a natural hat trick - all on the powerplay - in the final frame.
Quesnel only has one game this weekend, a Friday night tilt against Chilliwack. Game time at the Vault is 7:30pm.
As to what type of game he expects, Wolff says it should be much like Saturday's one: rough and tough.
Bringing Concussions to the forefront
SFU, BCHL take proactive approach in studying brain injuries
October 18, 1998
Mike Gaetz is trying to enlighten athletes, and the public for that matter, on a very dark and misunderstood issue.
Gaetz, a Simon Fraser University kinesiologist, is probing the minds and dark recesses of junior hockey players across the province in an attempt to better unserstand concussions.
"It used to be thought that concussions were much like muscle-type injuries, in that after time, the brain would heal itself, and everything would go back to normal. But," he adds, "we're now realizing the brain is a special case, as its' cells don't regenerate - once they die, that's it. Whatever you have at birth is whatever you're going to have for the rest of your life."
Scary stuff, especially when considering a concussion can knock a lot of brain cells out of order.
People are beginning to realize there is a problem with concussions, but not many knew what to do about it, says Gaetz, who called this research "cutting-edge" technology.
"Car accidents aren't too dissimilar from athletic injuries this way," says Gaetz. "If you're in an accident with your seat belt on and you come to an abrupt halt, what just happened was that your brain was doing 30 km/h and it came to a quick stop, resulting in shifting inside the skull, which can lead to injury. It's the same when two big guys hit each other at middle ice in a big collision," he states.
But, even scarier, says Gaetz, is letting a competitive athlete who's suffered a concussion back into the world of hard knock sports too early. "When you damage your brain cells, what happens is that other cells take up the lost connections. That's what's called the recovery process, and that takes time," says Gaetz. "The danger is if an athlete comes back too early after a concussion, not only do they risk losing more cells, but they also risk interrupting the repair process. And if that happens, then athletes tend to be out of action for the three to four month range."
For example, Gaetz pointed out former NHLers Pat Lafontaine and Brett Lindros, both forced to retire prematurely after suffering one too-many blows to the head.
Attempting to prevent the possibility of reinjury is the BC Hockey League, who commissioned SFU to do brain profiles on every player in the 14 team junior 'A' loop.
Since early September, Gaetz and three helpers have been busy putting the BCHL's 280-plus members through a long series of tests in an effort to map out brain wave patterns before injury takes place. If a player does get injured, then Gaetz will shuttle to that respective community, do a retest, and compare pre-and-post tests. Concussions usually result in patterns that deviate from their original settings. How little or big a concussion is depends on how much the second test of settings vary from the first.
The whole goal of this project is to find a reasonable determination of when it's safe for an injured player to go back," says Gaetz. "It could be early or later, but we want to really determine what that time is for each and every player."
As to the whole idea of studying concussions, Gaetz says most of the tests he and his partners perform, which take around two hours for each player, have been around for quite some time. "What's new is that no one has caught on to the idea of performing a battery of tests. Not even the NHL is doing such an in-depth study of their players."
Mills' bad luck should change
Editorial by Doyle Potenteau
October 18, 1998
While taking in the Millionaires-Nanaimo Clippers game earlier this month, a local fan told me Quesnel should change their nickname to the Canucks instead.
At first I laughed - very hard, in fact. Envisioning game announcer Al Manderson's voice booming out 'Please welcome your Quesnel Canucks' over the lousy PA system had a certain ring to it that I found highly entertaining.
Of course, his comment came after Nanaimo scored three unanswered third period goals and earned a come-from-behind win. Choked at the homeside for blowing two points, the fan said both Quesnel and Vancouver were perennial losers.
I hate to say this, but that fan is right. In the Millionaires' 22-year history, there have been only eight winning years - and six of those were consecutive between the inaugural 1975-76 season and '80-81'.
Quesnel's last two winning seasons were way back in 1986-87 (27-20-1) and '87-'88 (35-15-0) under the guidances of coaches Tom Marsh and Brad Gassoff respectively.
But if you thought it was tough to be a Mills fan, being a Canucks supporter has been tougher (not that most of the public doesn't already know this). Since 1970-71, the 28-year-old NHL franchise has put together only 5 winning seasons ('74-'76, and '91-'94).
Obviously, this fan does have a point. That said though, at least '98-'99 looks to be a good one for the Millionaires, unlike Vancouver.
Barring last weekend's pitiful performance, this year's group looks to be solid playoff contenders. No longer are the Mills a one-line or a one-player team, as they've managed to create depth.
The Leprechaun Line of 20 year-olds Scott Ganes, team captain Gerald Overton, and Jason Maxwell (who all wear green jerseys during practice) provide a lot of scoring punch. So does the second line of Tyler Mounsey, Ross Crawford, and Rob Simnor, who can all bury the puck at any given time. And the third line of Kevin Nelson, Dan Law, and Adrian Paolinelli, who mostly play as hard forecheckers, also manage to chip in.
Oddly enough, defence is Quesnel's strongest point, as five of this year's six blueliners were with the club last year. Only big, 18 year old 6'2" rookie Kyle Hickey is the M's newcomer.
And strong defence is going to be needed, as with two rookies in the form of Seth Stetson and Dean Schultz in net, opposing forwards will more than likely be looking to take extra liberties and lots of shots.
As many know, space in a small newspaper is at a premium. And sometimes a lot of stuff hits the cutting room floor. Here are some good examples of quotes that did not survive the cut, so to speak.
Ryan Buckman explained why he didn't want to play in Quesnel despite being traded here from Cowichan Valley last summer. "It's just that when I asked to be traded, I wanted to go to Langley," said Buckman, who eventually got his wish. "My parents would be closer, and that's the only place I wanted to play. In my asking to be traded, it's not that I held anything against Cowichan Valley or Quesnel, as both are good organizations, but I just wanted to go to Langley and nowhere else."
When Quesnel hosted Nanaimo, to ex-Cariboo residents, Cole Roberts of 100 Mile House, and former local Chad Vandiemen, were in town.
Vandiemen, a 1981 product who played in Quesnel from first year Atom to second year Peewee, says it was "really nice to come back and play here."
Roberts, a longtime 100 Mile House rep product scouted heavily by the Mills, agreed. "It was cool playing back here. I've always liked playing in Quesnel and in front of their fans." Even nicer was the fact that "we managed to get a win against some of the guys I used to play against."
As for the type of hockey played in the Coastal Division, Roberts says it's not rough and tough, but wide-open. "It's different - the fans are more mellow, the hockey is faster and has more finesse. It's definitely not like old Cariboo hockey I'm used to."
Talent all in the Family
Vernon's Lanny Gare not relying on bloodlines to produce early BCHL accomplishments
Stories by Stuart Hunter
October 20, 1998
Judging by his pedigree, it's no wonder Lanny Gare is top dog in the BC Hockey Leauge scoring derby so far.
After all, when your grandfather is Nelson legend Ernie Gare Sr., your dad is Boston Bruins scout Ernie Gare Jr., your uncles are former NHLer Danny Gare and ex-Canucks Coach Tom Renney, you come from pretty good hockey bloodlines.
But when it comes to his BCHL brethren, the Vernon Vipers centre is just another Joe - albeit a Joe who was sitting atop the league scoring race producing at more than three-point-per-game clip with 13 goals and 20 assists.
"As far as the Gare name goes, a lot of guys in the league wouldn't know my uncly (Danny) because he played back in the '70's (with Buffalo, Detroit, and Edmonton)," the matter-of-fact 20-year-old said. "No one really knows Tom is my uncle, or I would have taken a lot of shots about the Canucks last year."
Although Gare took a while to assert himself as a rookie early last year, by the time the playoffs roled around he was living up to the Gare name.
After netting a respectable 63 points in 60 regular-season games, the crafty playmaker was Vernon's playoff MVP.
And courtesy of a weight training program which helped him bulk up over the summer, Gare has furthered his success this season.
"Last year he'd go on a one-on-one and get outmuscled," recalled Vernon General Manager and Coach Troy Mick. "This year he's pushing the d-men aside and going around them. He's worked really hard and hasn't rested on his name as a Gare."
Mick added he's thrilled that Gare has "established himself as a prime-time Junior Player" this year on one of the BCHL's top lines with wingers Ryan Bayda and veteran Tyler Knight. They've got good speed and are all good playmakers and all like to finish," Mick said of the trio. "They cycle the puck well down low and if there's a three-on-two there's a good chance they'll score."
For his part, the second-oldest of Ernie and Deborah's four boys said he's more interested in team success and getting a college scholarship than individual accolades.
"My goals are to sign a scholarship and to win the Royal Bank Cup," said the former Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League rookie of the year who's being courted by New Hampshire, Michigan State, and Ohio State. "I want to do well in the playoffs because it was nagging at me over the summer with our first-round loss to Trail."
And when it comes to the prospect of following his uncle Danny into the NHL, the 6-foot, 185-pounder is pragmatic.
"Right now I'm feeling very confident about my game," said Gare, admitting he still has to work on his skating and defensive game. "But, you've got to keep your goals realistic. I don't want to get too far ahead of myself."
Gare added he gets occasional calls from his kin trying to keep abreast of the Vernon Minor Hockey product's burgeoning career.
"They call me up during the season to see how it is going," Gare said.
Until then, Gare will continue to do most of his talking on the ice.
Penticton Panthers netminder Jamie McCaig has moved to the top of the BCHL goalie tables courtesy of 1.94 goals-against average. Vernon Vipers netminder Derek Gustafson, 19, wasn't far behind witha stingy 2.25 GAA. Nanaimo's Cody Brown was third with a 2.65 GAA.
Calling all Colleges
South Surrey Eagles' defenceman Greg Zanon has agreed to attend the University of Nebraska next year. Meanwhile, Vernon's Tyler Knight has committed to Bowling Green. Chilliwack's Nolan Graham has reached a verbal aggreement with RPI.
Sweet Justice served on Chiefs
October 21, 1998
An elephant never forgets. And apparently neither do the Quesnel Millionaires.
After getting hammered 10-3 by Chilliwack two weekends ago, the M's served up a cold dish of revenge at The Vault Friday night, beating the visiting Chiefs 8-5.
"It was a great win for us," said Quesnel coach Barry Wolff after the game. "The whole team worked hard and never gave up."
The win was important, as not only did it allow Quesnel to keep pace in a very tight Interior Division race, but it showed the Mills are capable of keeping pace with any team in the league - including Chilliwack, touted as one of the BCHL's 'to beat' teams.
"I have to hand it to Quesnel," said Chilliwack coach Harvey Smyl. "They came out and played some very determined hockey, created their own chances, and deserved to win. Barry (Wolff) had his guys pumped for this game. They had great goaltending when they needed it, took the body well, and got the goals when they needed them."
The Mills jumped out to an early 2-0 lead thanks to forward Ross Crawford, who banged in a loose puck to open the scoring, then fed a slick one-timer from behind the net to a wide-open Dan Law out front on the powerplay five minutes into the contest.
Not to be outdone, the Chiefs zipped back, potting three before the first period ended, two of which were the result of giveaways - a cross-ice pass in Quesnel's defensive zone and a blocked slapper from the point that led to a breakaway goal.
In the second though, it was all Quesnel, as the M's outscored their opponents 3-1. Tyler Mounsey, Brendan Hutchinson, and Jason Maxwell all found the twine for the Mills. In the third, Crawford and team captain Gerald Overton with a pair added late insurance markers.
Rob Simnor had a big night, as he cashed in on four helpers, setting up his team's first two plus fourth and fifth goals. Rookie netminder Seth Stetson was solid between the pipes, stopping 33 of 38 shots en route to his fourth win of the season.
With most of the Millionaires' games against Coastal Conference teams over, the real season now begins, as out of Quesnel's remaining 47 contests, all but five are against rival Interior Conference opponents.
"These are the teams that we definately have to beat," said Wolff. "We have to be able to bear down each and every game."
The Mills now embark on a three game road trip with stops in Penticton, Vernon and Trail.
Millionaires Media Release
October 26, 1998
Barry Wolff, Head Coach and GM of the Quesnel Millionaires along with his Assistant Coach Al Novakowski have been released of their formal duties with the Quesnel Millionaires Jr. A Hockey Club.
Ken Gassoff of Quesnel has been appointed as Head Coach/GM and Brad Gassoff also of Quesnel has been appointed Assistant Coach.
The coaching changes take place as of today.
The hockey club regrets having to make this change, and wished Barry and Al good luck in their future endeavors.
Road Woes continue for Millionaires
By Doyle Potenteau
October 28, 1998
If the Quesnel Millionaires' road fortunes were compared to Wall Street, the market would be a bare one with very little or no return on the dollar.
Since jumping ship from the Rocky Mountain Hockey League to the BCHL two years ago, life on the road has been tough for Quesnel. Of their 70 road games to date, the Mills are a pitiful 11-59, winning only 19% of their away matches.
And over the weekend, that sorry trend continued, as the M's suffered three more road defeats on a swing through the Okanagan and Kootenays, losing 8-1 in Penticton Friday; a humiliating 12-0 Saturday in Vernon; then 3-2 to Trail, the league's worst offensive team.
The Millionaires, after watching their record slip to 5-11, now occupy sixth and last place in the Interior Division with 10 points, one point behind fifth place Trail and five behind fourth place Prince George.
Defenceman Craig Tresierra attributed their first two losses to a poor attitude. "We had a lot of mental letdowns that carried over from Penticton. In Vernon, we had a couple of early penalties and they popped two. After that, everyone kind of let up."
As for the Trail game, Tresierra said his team was up for the Smoke Eaters and wanted to win, "but couldn't buy a goal or get the bounces."
Scott Ganes, with a late first period goal, scored Quesnel's only marker against Penticton. In Trail, Tyler Mounsey and David Ficenec replied for Quesnel in a back-and-forth game that was dead-locked 2-2 until Smokies forward Roman Sykora beat Seth Stetson with just 24 seconds left to give his team their third victory of the year.
Saturdays result could have been worse, as Vernon's leading scorer, Lanny Gare (currently second overall in BCHL points race) was out of the lineup, as he was in New Hampshire getting scouted by colleges.
Gare, however, won't be missing this Friday's game, when he, Petr Chytka (who scored four times Saturday) and ex Millionaire Len Rampone (three assists) plus their teammates come to Quesnel for a Friday Night tilt in the Vault.
Then on Saturday, Quesnel hosts the Cowichan Valley Capitals, a Coastal Conference team they've yet to face this season.
Collins swings axe after brutal road trip
October 28, 1998
The Barry Wolff chapter in the Quesnel Millionaires story came to an abrupt end Monday evening.
In a move that surprised many, team president Kit Collins announced the firing of the GM/Head coach plus Assistant coach Al Novakowski.
The firing came after a brutal three-game road swing in which the Millionaires were outscored 23-3. The decision to let the axe fall though, came Sunday, before Quesnel hit the ice in their 3-2 loss to Trail, said Collins, who made the road trip with the club.
"It's been oncoming," said Collins Tuesday. "We've been hoping to see better things."
During Wolff's two year tenure behind the bench, Quesnel compiled a dismal 32-99-4 record and failed to make the playoffs twice.
I believe the team we have is not a sixth place team," she added, referring to the fact that Quesnel now occupies last place in the Interior Division standings. "We have a strong team and I think the season is still salvageable."
Taking over the reins will be born and raised Quesnel residents Ken Gassoff and brother Brad, both of whom were contacted by Collins over the weekend.
"We've always been on the outlook for hockey people in Quesnel," said Collins, adding the two ex-NHLers more than fit that description. "I called them and caught them off-guard. Before my conversation with Ken ended, I knew there was a very good chance of having them come on board."
Ken will be taking over GM and Coaching duties. Brad, who guided the Mills in their last winning season, 35-15-0 back in 1987-88, was named the Assistant coach.
Both say they are looking forward to the challenges of turning the clubs fortunes around.
As to the type of hockey fans can expect, Ken says it'll be hard-nosed, much like the style he played during the 60's and 70's.
As for Wolff and Novakowski, neither commented about the firing, except to wish the club good luck. "I have the most respect for Ken and Brad and I wish them and the team the best of luck," said Novakowski.
As to the future, Collins is very optimistic after having hired a true local coach. "There will definately be a lot of local spirit, as the bloodlines of the Gassoffs go deep into this community."
More to Harding than rights, lefts
October 28, 1998
Enforcers in junior hockey are supposed to think with their fists, leaving many with the impression that fighters are dumb.
However, Quesnel Millionaires tough guy James Harding says he has a lot more to offer than just pushing opponents with his knuckles.
As a 20-year old in his third and final year of BCHL play, Harding, who's fought almost every tough guy in the league and come out on top, is getting a lot of room to move.
"I think it's an intimidation factor," says the 6-foot-3, 215 pound blueliner. "They're intimidated by me, so they're giving me a lot of space and that gives me extra time with the puck."
The end result is the Mackenzie product makes the odd head-rush and now gets time on the powerplay.
And that translates into points. Last year, Harding notched three goals and 16 assists in 47 games, up from his totals of one mark and four helpers over 54 games in 1996-97. In his final year of junior hockey, he's on pace to notch 10 goals and 22 assists.
Although the mostly stay-at-home d-man can boast of picking the odd corner with a hard wrister, he knows what his role on the Millionaires is.
"I'm out there to play tough, aggressive hockey. And to take care of the business when its needed."
In his first year of Junior, way back in 1995-96 with Prince George, Harding amassed 43 penalty minutes in just nine games. With Quesnel the next year, that number ballooned to 191, then trailed off to 174 last year.
"In my first two years, I had to fight a lot, mostly against guys who didn't know me. Now I've made a name for myself and most guys know who I am. Basically I'm just a presence out there now."
Harding is also a presence in the dressing room, where he's looked upon to anchor a fairly young defence corps and provide leadership to younger teammates.
"I've been here for three years, so I like to stay positive and work hard through the rough times. Hopefully the younger guys will follow by example through a role model, and that in turn helps the team out."
In his own way, Harding is helping out the team via maturity. No longer is he taking needless penalties, like getting oaded into fights. The left-handed shot now chooses his own scraps.
With the BCHL looking to implement the two fight rule next year, it is coming one season too late for the graduating Senior, who wishes he could play just one more year.