Panthers, Vipers up first for Millionaires
By Doyle Potenteau
January 3, 1999
Ken Gassoff says he's hoping the Quesnel Millionaires can start 1999 the way they ended 1998: on a strong winning note.
"I believe we have a very solid team right now," said the M's bench boss shortly after his club's last game of 1998, a 7-6 home victory over Powell River on December 18th. "Everybody on this team is dedicated towards winning."
Gassoff's words more than ring true. For the first time in three seasons, the M's recorded a winning month by going 6-1 in the last month of '98.
All six victories were achieved not though luck, but through hard work, evidenced by their 7-3 win over Merritt on the 10th and their 5-3 upset over Vernon on the 17th.
But going into 1999, Quesnel will need to continue their hard working ways, as both Penticton, currently third in Interior Division standings with a record of 19-15-3; and Vernon, 33-3-2 and first, are the M's first two opponents of the New Year.
Gassoff's gang hosts Penticton Saturday night at seven pm, then Vernon Sunday at two pm.
Numbers-wise, Quesnel should be able to hold their own against Penticton despite losing twice (8-1, 5-2) in their two earlier meetings. Offensively, the Panthers have only managed to score 136 goals for, three less than Quesnel's total of 139.
Against the Vipers though, whose goals for-against ratio is 200-90, it's a different story. The M's, third worst in the BCHL with 200 goals against, will need another big night in net from starter Seth Stetson and some solid work from their defence.
On the plus side of January is the fact Quesnel plays eight of their 13 games at home, including their first five.
M's start '99 in ugly fashion Martini rejoins fold after absence
By Doyle Potenteau
January 6, 1999
Ringing in 1999 on a good note was not how the Quesnel Millionaires started off the New Year.
In their first two games of '99, the M's suffered a pair of crushing home defeats, losing 7-2 to Penticton Saturday Night, then 6-2 to Vernon Sunday afternoon.
In both contests, Quesnel played sluggishly - blame it on either too much turkey as some fans suggested, or just plain laziness - and couldn't keep up to their Interior Division opponents.
One telling tale of how poorly Quesnel played was their shots on goal total. In three of their six weekend periods, the M's were limited to eight shots or less.
Needless to say, Quesnel was outshot in both games: 43-30 Saturday, then 42-29 Sunday.
Penticton backup netminder Jamie McCaig, who kicked aside 30 of 32 shots, stated he had no trouble seeing the puck in Saturday's game, as there wasn't a whole lot of traffic in front of him.
And when there was, Penticton's defence easily "cleared them out of the way which made my job much easier."
"Quesnel only has one line which generates most of their offence," McCaig added, referring to the BOMb line of Casey Bartzen, Gerald Overton, and Jason Maxwell. "And I think we did a pretty good job on shutting it down."
Jake Ellingson and Overton with a third period powerplay marker notched Quesnel's goals.
Against Vernon, Quesnel really had no chance of winning, as the Vipers wanted to redeem themselves after losing the last time they played in the Vault, a 5-3 win for the M's back on December 17th.
Viper forward Kori Davison said his team wanted to send a message right from the opening faceoff. "The last time we came up here we lost, and our coach had a tough time swallowing that," said Davison, whose team had extra incentive after a 5-4 loss to Prince George Friday night. "So what we wanted to do is start banging the body and put as much pressure on them as possible and force them into making mistakes."
Vernon's game plan worked perfectly, as hard forechecking resulted in several Quesnel turnovers that led to early goals and a hole the M's couldn't crawl out of.
Ross Crawford and Bartzen, with his 21st of the season, were the only Mills to jump on the score sheet Sunday.
Concerning player transactions, the M's were bolstered then let down.
D-man Jesse Martini, who left Quesnel after getting picked up in mid-November and playing just three games, has decided to re-don the blue, white, and gold.
After an unsuccessful attempt to jump ship to Waterloo of the US Hockey League, the 18-year old found out the hard way that neither Quesnel coach Ken Gassoff nor the BC Hockey League would trade or release his rights to Waterloo.
Martini, unable to play and basically forced to sit and rot, said he decided to return to Quesnel "because I had to and that I wanted to."
"It was other things as well," said the self-described offensive defenceman, "It was kind of complicated."
After recieving word the 6-foot, 205 pound blueliner was rejoining the club, Gassoff then found out D-man Jason Randle would not be returning after leaving for home for the Christmas holidays.
The 5-foot-11, 185 pound 19 year old from Fort Vermillion, AB, traded to Quesnel from Fort McMurray of the AJHL in early December, is apparently pursuing work options. Randle could not be reached for comment.
Up next for the Millionaires are another pair of weekend homestands, as they host Trail Friday, then Merritt Saturday. Both games have 7:30pm start times.
Wearing 'C' more than suits O-T
By Doyle Potenteau
January 10, 1999
If Gerald Overton ever decided to become a two-sport athlete, rodeo would be his natural second calling.
The 20-year-old Captain of the Quesnel Millionaires - born and raised near Williams Lake, the heart of BC's cowboy country - has experienced more bumps, twists, and turns the past three seasons than a veteran bullrider would in 10.
Since joining the M's as an 18-year-old rookie in 1996-97, the slick 5-foot-10, 165lb. winger has seen his team finish with two sub .500 seasons, the firing of two coaches, and more players rotate through Quesnel's revolving dressing room door than he cares to remember.
"That first year was pretty hard," said Overton, referring to when Quesnel jumped ship from the Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League to the Ultra-competitive BC Hockey League and completed their first season in the nation's top league with a horrific 6-52-2 mark.
"I don't know how most of those guys made it through the year, as everybody was down all the time."
But despite that horrible season - a year that included an appalling 20 game losing streak - Overton decided to stick it out in Quesnel.
"I've always liked it here and I knew when I first played that I'd wind up finishing my career here."
Such dedication to Quesnel has earned him this year's C on his jersey - an item he wanted to wear way back in August.
"(Former coach) Barry (Wolff) told me over the summer that he'd like me to captain this year's team," said Overton. "So I came into training camp wanting to wear it and tried to lead the team."
So far O-T's plan has worked to a T, as he's being looked to for leadership. Although generally quiet, the M's second leading scorer voices his opinions quite loudly when he has too - either in the dressing room or on the ice.
Teammates aren't the only ones looking to him - so are opposing players, especially defencemen.
With speedy centre Casey Bartzen and flying winger Jason Maxwell, Overton is the third integral part of Quesnel's BOMb line - a group that's accounted for 49% of Quesnel's total points.
"At the beginning when the three of us came together, teams weren't really paying that much attention to us. Now it seems as the season goes on, we're always matched up against a checking line," said Overton.
Speaking of checks, the lakecity resident hopes a US College or University will sign him on this spring and offer him a full ride.
"That's my goal right now - to earn a scholarship," added the '96 Columneetza graduate.
Despite being ranked 15th in BCHL scoring with 66 points (25g, 41a) in 37 games coming into the weekend, Overton isn't being looked at a lot. And that's odd, as he's putting up serious numbers.
In his first season, he notched just 18 points (9g,9a) in 60 games. That rose to 35 points (16g,19a) in his second year. And in his third year, Overton is on pace to score 107 pts.
However, as much as he may want to attend post-secondary schooling, he has bigger items on his plate - like making the playoffs.
"Right now I'm putting my personal feelings aside for the team," said Overton, who's never skated in a junior playoff game. "I don't want to go through Junior Hockey not making the playoffs."
As to whether or not that happens, only time will tell. But O-T says he has a distinct feeling the M's will be playing March hockey for the first time in three seasons.
"At the beginning of the season, we had a lot of guys who were negative and weren't too sure if they wanted to be here or not. Now everybody's on board and wants to make the playoffs just like I do."
*************************** Sports Shorts ***************************
Ed Beers is no longer the head coach of the Merritt Centennials.
Beers, head coach of the Centennials since the beginning of the 1997-98 season, was fired by team management Sunday in response to the team's recent slide.
The move was made last weekend after the Cents lost 4-2 to the Trail Smoke Eaters Saturday, the Cents' second straight loss to Trail and the team's seventh loss in eight games.
Beers, who grew up in Merritt, had played for the Centennials for four seasons before eventually going on to a successful NHL hockey career. He had returned to his hometown for one previous coaching stint.
"I think we need to change a lot of our small habits off and on the ice," said assistant coach Mike Vandekamp, who takes over from Beers in an interim co-coaching role with GM Ralph Stewart.
Vandekamp played for Fort St John, Bellingham, and finished out his playing career with the Prince George Spruce Kings.
Speaking of the Spruce Kings, GM Len McNamara made a big ne-for-one trade with Burnaby over the week, sending Brent Mailloux south for - dig this - ex-Millionaire Scott Ganes.
"Ganes does two things for us," said McNamara. "We have the need for a centre and for a guy to be fiesty."
It's expected Ganes will form part of a crash and bang line with Kings' power forward Mike Stutzel.
Of note, the Kings were forced to sideline their leading scorer for two to three weeks, as Richard Cihak suffered a knee injury in last Friday's game with Vernon.
Mills shut down Cents, Smokies
By Doyle Potenteau
January 13, 1999
With one quick sentence, tough, trash talking Merritt defenceman Jonathon Boh quickly summed up the rest of the BC Hockey League as far as the Centennials and Quesnel Millionaires are concerned.
"We're in a playoff race now," said Boh, who's well-known for his tough on-ice comments and even tougher lefts and rights.
The 19-year-old's comment came after Saturday night's tilt between the two Interior Division Rivals, a high-scoring contest the Millionaires won 11-8. With the win, Quesnel, fifth in Interior Division standings and one point back of Merritt before the game, leap-frogged over the Cents into fourth and final playoff position.
Centre Casey Bartzen was on fire Saturday night in helping the M's to victory, as the 19-year-old notched four goals and two assists.
After the two clubs traded four goals within the first five minutes, Quesnel jumped out to a commanding 6-2 lead, as Bartzen with two back-to-back goals, Adrian Paolinelli and David Ficenec all scored before the 15 minute mark.
With his team down and out, Boh tried to spark his club up by chucking the knuckles with M's forward Jake Ellingson, a move that worked as the Cents responded by scoring three times before the period ended.
In the second, Merritt managed to tie the game at 8-8, but watched their comeback fall short in the third, as the M's salted their game away with three unanswered markers.
Merritt interim head coach Mike Vandekamp hit the nail on the head after saying he'd seen better performances in net.
"It was obvious goaltending was weak at both ends of the rink," said Vandekamp. "It was like the next puck that went in would win it."
Both clubs began with their starters, Seth stetson for Quesnel and Lance Mayes for Merritt, then pulled them in favour of backups Dean Schultz and Richard Jones. Stetson (along with Mayes), was then reinstated later on.
In other weekend action, Quesnel dumped Trail 5-3 Friday night.
Bartzen, with two goals and one assist, paced the Mills to victory over the hapless Smoke Eaters, owners of the BCHL's third worst record. D-man Craig Tresierra chipped in with a couple of assists, helping in on the games first goal, scored by Bartzen, and Quesnel's third maker, notched by Paul Kelley.
In off-ice action, the M's picked up goaltender Markus Trussler from Calgary for futures.
The M's the sent backup Dean Schultz to Campbell River of the Vancouver Island Jr B League to get some valuable playing time. The 18 year-old local resident had logged only 488 minutes in net this year. Quesnel still retains his rights for next year.
Millionaires' future tough, but very promising
By Doyle Potenteau
January 13, 1999
This weekend, the Quesnel Millionaires take on the Prince George Spruce Kings in a Friday + Sunday home-at-home series.
The Millionaires are a vastly improved team that started the season, witnessed by the Spruce Kings, who soundly thumped Quesnel 12-1 November 3rd, and 5-2 November 10th, but were doubled up by the blue and gold 4-2 one month later on December 12th.
So far, the season series between the two bitter arch-rivals is deadlocked at two apiece.
"The last time we played Quesnel, they were extremely strong and won in our building," said Kings coach Dale Marquette. "We have to be ready. They've made some good changes to their team and they have a good work ethic."
That ethic is the backbone of the new and improved Mills, according to coach Ken Gassoff.
With only one line (Gerald Overton, Jason Maxwell, and Casey Bartzen), Gassoff says the Mills have to rely on hard work and defence to get results.
That role often falls to the team's second line of Nick Udovicic, Ross Crawford, and Adrian Paolinelli.
"Those guys create things," stated Gassoff. "They're not as offensive-minded as Bartzen's line, but they play good defence."
Looking beyond Prince George, the future looks bright for Quesnel, as the Millionaires are now in a playoff spot with less than 20 games left to go.
"I wouldn't say we're over the hump, although we'd like to think we are," said Gassoff. "It's still going to be tough from here on out."
"If we play our game," Gassoff added, "then we're better than Merritt and Trail."
BCHL, Millionaires quiet on trading deadline
By Doyle Potenteau
January 17, 1999
All quiet on the Western front described the BCHL's January 10th trading deadline.
In what has been called one of the quieter trade deadlines in league history, only two major trades were made.
The biggest trade saw Trail ship star netminder Wade Dubielewicz to Chilliwack, a move that gives the Chiefs a legitimate shot at this year's league championship.
Despite being loaded with several powerful forwards and the league's biggest defence core, Chilliwack suffered from mediocre netminding - an item they fixed instantly in swapping 19-year-old goaltender Tim Knudsen (4.59 GAA, 88.1 save percent) for 20 year old Dubielewicz (3.88 GAA, 89.3 save percent).
The ex-Smokie and RMJHL Fernie Ghostrider netminder languished Trail the past two seasons, playing for a team whose defence was more porous than Swiss cheese.
With solid defence in front of him, Dubielewicz looks to be the final piece in Chilliwack's run for the Subway (Fred Page) Cup.
The other big trade saw South Surrey ship recently aquired 19-year-old forward Tyler Mounsey (39GP, 15G, 29A) to Trail for 20-year-old Wade Paterson (36GP, 3G, 9A), who seems to be getting the better end of the stick in being traded from the league's second-worst team to the league's second-best.
For Mounsey, this is his third team in as many months, having been traded from Quesnel in November to Powell River.
In turn Powell River shipped him to South Surrey after the Mackenzie (Chetwynd) native refused to report to the sub .500 Kings.
As far as the Millionaires were concerned, coach Ken Gassoff looks to have cured his team's netminding woes with the addition of Markus Trussler.
Gassoff said he looks forward to Trussler, traded to Quesnel from the Calgery Canucks of the AJHL for futures, suiting up for Quesnel, as he comes with some very strong credentials.
After trying out and making the Lethbridge Hurricanes of the WHL, Trussler (4GP, 179min, 4.36 GAA, 1-2-0, .845 Save percent) was relegated to third backup after losing his starting position to a hot backup goalie and the return of last year's Canes' starter from the NHL.
A (Spruce) King-sized headache
By Doyle Potenteau
January 20, 1999
Memorable Moments were few and far between for the Quesnel Millionaires in a weekend home-at-home series with Prince George.
In the latest meetings between the two BC Hockey League arch-rivals, Prince George earned 4 points, as the Spruce Kings thumped the M's 8-3 in Quesnel Friday night, then shut out their opponents 5-0 in front of 1500 PG faithful.
Kings forward Noel Burkitt was a killer on the weekend, as the 5'11" 20-year-old forward from Campbellford, Ont. notched three points Friday (two goals, one assist), then followed that up with two markers Sunday.
Friday's contest saw Quesnel draw first blood, as Rob Simnor scored five minutes into the contest on the powerplay. But after that, it was all PG, as the Spruce Kings scored seven straight times - three in the first, then four in the second.
Rounding out the M's markers were Casey Bartzen and Brent Heaven, who both scored in the third.
In Sunday's contest, the play of Jr B goaltender call-up Tyler Euverman proved to be the difference. Quesnel ruled the first half of the contest, outshooting Prince, but weren't able to buy a goal, as Euverman stole the show, stoning several great Quesnel chances with brilliant saves and earned his team's first ever BCHL shutout.
"We started off very strong Sunday,"said Quesnel coach Ken Gassoff. "We just couldn't capitalize on our chances to score."
Although teams run into hot netminders every once in a while, blueliner David Ficenec said he was at a loss as to why Quesnel couldn't light the lamp.
"We should score more on them," said the offensive D-man,"because their goalies aren't that great."
As far as the M's were concerned, there were only five major highlights over the weekend, two taking place Friday when new netminder Markus Trussler - after starter Seth Stetson was scored on seven times and yanked - came up big twice on a pair of late third-period breakaways, stopping Brad Fast first, then Brent Williams.
Quesnel's other four highlights were the three fist-i-cuffs the club won in their shutout loss. Jake Ellingson, who pounded new PG forward Steve Reid; Paul Kelley, a clear-cut winner in a short scrap with Chris Rowland; and Ross Crawford, who sent Paul Fisher crashing to the ice with a pair of heavy rights in a long and drawn-out two minute heavyweight bout, all gave the M's something to look forward to in their next contest with Prince George January 26th.
The fourth was actually a lowlight, as Rowland nailed Bartzen with a heavy check that sent Quesnel's leading scorer literally flying - along with one glove, his helmet and stick - when the speedy centre tried to cut into the middle along the PG blueline.
The Coliseum crowd actually quieted for one second after seeing such a viscous hit, then roared. A few shifts later, Kelley taught Rowland a lesson, spanking the 20-year-old Spruce Capital Native.
All weekend long, the Kings played physically, and when they weren't doing that, they covered Quesnel's forwards tighter than a pair of Richard Simmons workout sweats.
Constant pressure resulted in several neutral-zone turnovers which led to dump and chase tactics by the Kings, who, more often than not, came up with the puck.
"That's our biggest problem right now," said Gassoff. "Once they get the puck in our zone, we start running around, chasing them, and nobody's in position."
Internet Editor's Note:
The Quesnel Millionaires left for their four games in four nights with a shortened roster due to injury and illness. After losing forward Adrian Paolinelli in Friday's game with another shoulder injury, the Mills also lost defenceman Craig Tresierra to a knee injury and forward Nick Udovicic to Food Poisoning. Udovicic hopes to return to the team on the road.
Overton Red-hot on Roadswing
By Doyle Potenteau
January 24, 1999
The Quesnel Millionaires opened a tough four-game road swing by grabbing three out of a possible four points in their first two contests.
In Trail Wednesday night, the visiting M's slipped past their hosts 5-4 after trailing 3-1 midway through the second.
Team Captain Gerald Overton sparked hs club's comeback late in the second, notching his 27th of the season with 3:31 left. In the third, it was all Quesnel, as Rob Simnor on the powerplay, David Ficenec, and Overton with his second of the game beat Smokies' netminder Randy(Brady) Robinson.
For Trail, Craig Clare notched a pair of shorthanded markers.
Quesnel goalie Seth Stetson kicked aside 39 shots to pick up his 16th win of the year.
In Vernon Thursday night, the BC Hockey League's best overall team needed overtime, then the shoot-out to defeat Quesnel 3-2.
M's goalie Mark Trussler proved to be the difference in the contest, as Quesnel's newest member turned aside a whopping 50 shots.
Overton gave Quesnel a 1-0 lead midway through the second until Joel Bresciani tied it midway through the third with a shorthander. The two swapped goals - Paul Kelley for Quesnel and Tyler Knight for Vernon - then headed for overtime, where nothing was solved, despite some great chances at both ends of the ice.
In the shootout, the Mills went 0-5 (0-2), as backup Chris King stoned Quesnel's five (two) attempts. On the other side, Vernon went two for five, (two for two) with Lanny Gare notching the game winner.
Vernon Morning Star Sports Editor Kevin Mitchell said Quesnel's forechecking effort in the third was great, as the Vipers couldn't get out of their own end at times.
He also stated defenceman Devin Walshe had a very solid game on the blueline for Quesnel.
Interior Division standings have the Mills, 17-25-1, in fourth with 35 points now, two up on fifth place Merritt, 15-26-3. Quesnel also has two games in hand over the Centennials.
Playoff battle heating up
By Doyle Potenteau
January 27, 1999
The Quesnel Millionaires are now in a playoff race for their second season lives.
Heading into the weekend, Quesnel occupied the Interior Division's fourth and last playoff spot by a narrow margin - one point to be exact, over fifth place Merritt, a club the M's had been swapping spots with the past two weekends.
Come Monday morning, that picture had reversed itself, as the M's found themselves trailing the Centennials by four points after less than successful ventures into Merritt and Penticton.
Quesnel, in their final two contests of a four game road swing, lost 7-6 to Merritt in overtime Friday before getting hammered by Penticton 7-2 Saturday.
The two losses abruptly ended what was a good road trip, as Quesnel snared a possible three out of four points in their first two games, beating Trail 5-4 Wednesday, then earning a single point in a 3-2 shoot-out loss to Vernon.
On a roll is what Merritt seems to be, as after beating Quesnel and jumping into fourth Friday, Merritt went two-for-two in their next two games, slipping past hapless Burnaby 3-2 Saturday, then upsetting prince George 6-5 Sunday.
With just 15 games to go in the 1998-99 BCHL regular season, experiencing a late-season funk is not what forward Brent Heaven wants to see. "What we have to do is get back into the groove we were in before the Christmas break," said the M's rookie, referring to a 6-1 stretch Quesnel experienced in December. "We're really going to have to bare down and start winning so we can catch Merritt," added the 18-year old from Kamloops whose club held two games in hand over the Cents before Tuesday night's home tilt against Prince George.
Quesnel goalie Mark Trussler had a rough outing in Merritt, as the Cents scored three times on eight shots, which resulted in a yank job just 5:44 into the first. Backup Seth Stetson didn't have a much easier time, as just 10 minutes into relief, Neil Stevenson-Moore lit the red lamp on him.
Stevenson-Moore would then assist on the overtime winner, notched by Shawn King 3:23 into the extra frame.
Jason Maxwell had a hot game for the losers, as the speedy winger notched a hat trick and one assist on Quesnel's fourth goal, a powerplay marker scored by Gerald Overton - one of two markers on the night for the team captain. Jake Ellingson rounded out Quesnel's other goal scoring.
In Penticton, the Panthers jumped out quick, scoring four times in the first period. Ex Millionaire Glendon Cominetti struck for two.
Bartzen: from questionable to untouchable
By Doyle Potenteau
January 27, 1999
A move Casey Bartzen originally balked at is turning out to be the best one the shifty centre has ever made.
Bartzen, traded from Powell River to Quesnel in a two-for-two swap with fellow King Dustin Frame for former Millionaires Tyler Mounsey and Kyle Hickey in November, did not immediately want to don the blue , black, and gold.
And who could blame him? When Millionaires management fired former coaches Barry Wolff and Al Novakowski, a slew of players - six to be exact - left the club, leaving new bench boss brothers Ken and Brad Gassoff holding an empty bag of sorts.
"It really had nothing to do with the city," said Bartzen. "It had more to do with what the organization was going to do - were they going to make their situation any better?"
Instead of reporting immediately like Frame did, Bartzen took his time deciding whether or not to play hockey in a geographic region where winters are cold as his home in Saskatoon.
"I wanted to know what kind of situation I was getting myself into," stated the born and raised flatlander. "I wanted to take my time and make sure it was the right decision for me."
He did that by "talking to players who had been traded here and they were telling me how it was going and how the team was getting better."
The Gassoffs also gave the 5'11", 185lb centre their word they'd do their best to ice a potential playoff contender.
At that point, Quesnel, much like Powell River, was struggling to stay above the .300 mark - a nice number when it comes to batting averages, but not winning percentages in hockey.
Just over a week into his holdout, Bartzen decided to report. "As it came along, it made more and more sense for me to play here."
So far, his numbers speak loudly on his decision to leave the warm Sunshine Coast for the frozen confines of the Cariboo.
As of Wednesday, Bartzen is third in league scoring with 87 points (28 goals, 59 assists) in 43 games played.
But it's not his point total that's impressing fans - it's his unbelievably quick and blindingly fast skating style.
"Without a doubt," said Ken Gassoff, "he's one of the best skaters and more talented forwards in the league."
Although the Interior Division may not have known this in late 1998, Coastal conference teams have known this for two years, as Bartzen put on scores of Savardian spin-a-ramas while suiting up with Powell River.
Since joining the BCHL back in '96-'97 as a 17-year-old rookie from Saskatoon, Bartzen has steadily put up larger stats. In his first year, he tallied 13 goals and 15 assists in 50 games. Last year, that increased to 14 markers and 21 helpers in 54 games. This year, he's on pace to record 121 points (39G, 82A), which would be a new record for overall points and assists.
Putting up big numbers is exactly what number 23 wants - as large tallies tend to attract the eyes of college scouts.
"A scholarship is definitely my goal," said Bartzen, who played on the same line with ex-King and current Spruce King Mike Stutzel while in Powell River. "I really want to be an offensive player this year."
When Bartzen did move North, he eventually found himself centering the BOMb line of himself plus Gerald Overton and Jason Maxwell.
So far, the trio have been an explosive offensive bomb on the ice, accounting for nearly half of Quesnel's offence.
"We complement each other really well. Me and (Overton) like to both carry the puck a lot and (Maxwell) is really good at getting open."
While he and Overton, both currently top-10 BCHL ranked scorers, may receive much of their opponents, he says Maxwell doesn't.
"He gets a lot of points and I don't think a lot of people realize it," said Bartzen, who called his North Vancouver winger one of the league's most under-rated players.
Teammates and scholarships aside, one aspect of Bartzen many don't know of is that he's never missed the playoffs at whatever level he's been at in years.
"Making the playoffs is even bigger than my scholarship," he stated, adding that this is probably his last season in the BCHL as he's on the berge of scoring a scholarship. "I think we have a very legitimate shot at them."
Ficenec quits club; leaves for California
By Doyle Potenteau
January 31, 1999
Just when Quesnel Millionaires coach Ken Gassoff thought he had staunched the flow of blood loss, another artery burst on him.
David Ficenec, the club's top defenceman, left the local junior 'A' hockey team Thursday morning for California to join his dad.
Ficenec could not be reached for comment as to why he quit, although one source says he left to pursue a career in the East Coast Hockey League.
The same source also said the 20-year old from the Czech republic has been thinking about leaving Quesnel for some time. The turning point came in Tuesday night's 9-1 loss to Prince George.
His departure now makes it seven players who have quit the team since management fired ex-coaches Barry Wolff and Al Novakowski.
"Its too bad he quit," said Gassoff of the two-year veteran. "He was a valuable part of our team."
As for Ficenec's replacement, Gassoff said he's been busy on the phone trying to acquire an experienced blueliner, but so far there hasn't been one available.
"Nobody will be able to replace Ficenec, as he was a very good player," said Gassoff. "But at the same time, he's just one guy, and one guy doesn't make a team."
Ficenec's departure couldn't have come at a worse time, as defenceman Craig Tresierra (knee) and Devin Walshe (tailbone) are injured. In an effort to shore up his defence, Gassoff has called up midgets 6'2" Adam Walton and 6'4"Chad Ingram. He will also be placing forwards Rob Simnor and Ross Crawford back in a defensive role.
As to how his team will respond without their fourth-leading point getter in the lineup, Gassoff stated it will be a challenge.
"Guys like (Casey) Bartzen and (Gerald) Overton are going to have to raise their games a little and so is our goaltending."
"I firmly believe that if the team steps up their play, we can make the playoffs," added Gassoff.