Quesnel captain sets sights High
by Terry Murray
February 2, 2000
When Nick Udovicic steps on the ice for his Quesnel Millionaires, every effort is made for the teams' success. His own success, however, rides heavily on luring any college scholarships his way.
Playing on his fourth team in three years, the 20-year-old captain has had to carry most of the offensive load this year. Although he isn't racking up immense numbers, (26G-33A), the Burnaby native plays a physical, hard working style that has not seen him miss any of the clubs' 49 games. He was ranked the sixth highest forward named to the All-Star team and his 59 points have already surpassed his most points in a season.
Udovicic has not committed to a college for next season however, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in New York has expressed interest in the 6'0 - 210 pound centreman. "I hope to re-write my SAT and hopefully open up the field with a lot of schools holding interest," Udovicic said. "Right now, I am putting up some numbers on a low scoring team and with some hard work and dedication, something will fall through the cracks pretty soon."
After beginning his junior hockey with the then talent laden South Surrey Eagles in 1998, Udovicic moved to Castlegar to play for the Rebels in the now defunct Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League. In scoring 31 points in 21 games for the Rebels, he got another shot in the BCHL with the expansion Burnaby Bulldogs. After only 14 games with the Dogs, the Millionaires came calling. A strong finish with 15 goals and 28 assists with Quesnel last year gave interim head coach and general manager Ken Gassoff enough evidence that Udovicic was the man to lead the Mills as captain.
When dealt to Quesnel, it was the right fit for Udovicic. "Right from the beginning I thought Quesnel was a great place," Udovicic stated. "That is why I came back. We went through our bumps and bruises at the beginning of the year and we are still going through them. However, we got a great coach in Dale Marquette, who has really helped to turn things around. I won't be around next year, but the years to come are going to be good for Quesnel with Dale behind the bench."
In helping Udovicic grow as an accomplished player, has been his family in Burnaby. After drifting a bit in grade eight and nine while attending public school, Udovicic went to St. Thomas Moore in Burnaby, an all-male school. "I picked it up a bit and graduated with honors marks. Hopefully it will all tie into this year."
A year at Notre Dame in Saskatchewan and a few years on the road have kept him away from home, however Udovicic realizes it is part of the game. "It is a lot harder for others to deal with, so I have taken it as well as you can. I am trying to make my parents proud of me and being away from home is where it is going to happen. It is not easy being away for any athlete, so I am trying to make everything come together in the end," Udovicic replied.
At the beginning of the season, Udovicic had received many calls from other clubs trying to persuade the talented forward from the Mills. The choice was positive for Quesnel because without Udovicic, the Mills would be in bigger trouble than they currently sit, which is out of a playoff spot in fifth place in the Interior Division with 32 points, 23 back of the Prince George Spruce Kings.
The BCHL is committed to providing players the greatest possible competition, opportunity, development (talent, character and education), and exposure, in order that they are best able to achieve long term success on an athletic, personal, and academic level.
That league statement will only help add to the list of players planning on long term success from this year's BCHL list of players, including Nick Udovicic.
Mills drop all three on coastal swing
by Kevin Parnell
February 2, 2000
A trip through the BCHL's Coastal Conference wasn't kind to the Quesnel Millionaires on the weekend, as the local team was handed three straight losses, including their worst defeat of the season, a 12-1 thrashing at the hands of Victoria.
The losses officially eliminated Quesnel from the playoffs, although thoughts of the post-season have been on the back-burner since before Christmas.
The Millionaires began the road trip with a 7-4 loss to Langley Thursday, a game that was tied at two until the final minute of the second period, when Langley struck for a shorthanded marker that turned the tides.
The Hornets pumped in four third period goals to cement the win.
In Victoria on Friday night, Quesnel played an atrocious game, giving up two shorthanded goals and a powerplay goal in the first period, en route to the 12-1 defeat.
Mills coach Dale Marquette says the game was one of the worst since he took over the team early this season.
"I think the Victoria game was, overall, our ugliest performance," he said. "It was one of those games where we didn't have anybody show up and we really went inot a shell when we got down. We played like we were hoping someone was going to feel sorry for us."
To the credit of the 19 Mills players on the trip, they showed a lot of heart on the third and final game of the trip, Saturday in Cowichan Valley.
The Mills bounced back from the 12-1 drubbing with a spirited game against the Capitals, in which they outshot the Duncan squad 40-25.
But the effort went unrewarded as Cowichan Valley earned a 3-2 win. All the scoring came in the first and second periods, despite 11 third period shots, many of them good scoring chances, Mills shooters couldn't find the net.
"The Cowichan game, we bounced back with one of our best games," said Marquette. "We outshot them badly. But our players need to learn how to finish. We missed five breakaways and numerous odd-man rushes."
The Mills record now sits at 14-31-4, better than only Trail, currently on a 17 game losing streak.
But Marquette, the former WHL star and coach, says he knew it would be tough to turn this team around. "It's been tough, but right now I'm playing everybody," he said. "It's a great development time. I've moved all the 20-year-olds onto the same line and am experimenting with different combinations that will play together next year."
There are 17 players on the Millionaire roster that could be back to play next year, eight of them are playing this season as 17 or 18 year olds.
Marquette feels the base is set for a big improvement next year.
"I feel really good about the players we've brought in," he said. "You try to base it on attitude and work ethic, and develop players from there. I'm very optomistic about where we sit."
Mills win pair on home ice
by Kevin Parnell
February 9, 2000
They were two completely different games, but the Quesnel Millionaires earned two wins by identical 4-2 scores at home on the weekend.
The Mills handed former Quesnel resident Dave Sales and his Powell River Kings a 4-2 loss Friday night, in a scrappy, poorly played game by both teams.
Quesnel earned the win on a third period goal by Paul Kelley.
Sales, general manager and acting assistant coach, said it was nice to be back in Quesnel, but was not happy with his team's play.
"It brought back a lot of memories," Sales said after the game. "I certainly enjoyed it, but I was disappointed with the way we played tonight."
Powell River featured several Quesnel Minor Hockey products as Dan Law, Jeff Jones and Chad Van Diemen all suited up for the Kings, as did former Millionaire defenceman Kyle Hickey and 100 Mile's Cole Roberts.
"It's always nice to come back and play in the old barn," said Law, who netted the first Powell River goal in front of family and friends. "I was pretty nervous after the warm-up and during the first couple of shifts."
Saturday night's tilt with Burnaby was a much better game as the two teams played an intense match.
Quesnel dominated Burnaby much of the game but great goaltending kept the Bulldogs in it, and the Darcy Rota-coached team tied the score at two at 1:16 of the third period.
But 20-year-old forward Kelly Riou gave Quesnel its second win of the weekend when he walked around a Burnaby defenceman at the blueline and, after trying a cross ice pass, grabbed the loose puck and fired it into the net at 13:41 of the third.
It capped off a good weekend for Riou, who had scored twice on Friday night, and throttled Burnaby's Jason Vos in a fight at the end of the second period on Saturday.
Riou was given an honourable mention for Interior Division player of the week.
The Mills are on the road in Trail and Merritt this weekend.
Mills 1-and-1 on road trip
by Kevin Parnell
February 16, 2000
The Quesnel Millionaires split two games on their most recent road trip, winning 6-2 in Trail Friday night, before losing 4-3 in a close battle in Merritt.
The Mills were led by 20-year-olds Paul Kelley and Nick Udovicic. Kelley had three goals and three assists while Udovicic's two goals and three assists earned him honourable mention as the Interior Division Player of the Week.
Nineteen-year-old Rob Lommer also had a good weekend, scoring his 17th and 18th goals of the season.
Quesnel hosts Nanaimo and Cowichan Valley Friday and Saturday nights at the Quesnel Twin Arenas where the Mills have won 10 of their past 16 games and three in a row.
Mills struggle at home
by Kevin Parnell
February 23, 2000
After nearly three months of solid play at the Quesnel Twin Arenas, the Quesnel Millionaires disappointed the home town fans with two ugly losses on the weekend, in games the team should have won.
Quesnel lost 8-6 Friday night to Nanaimo and followed that up with a 7-6 loss to the Cowichan Valley Capitals on Saturday.
Saturday night, the Millionaires had the game firmly in hand, leading 2-0 after the first period and 4-1 a tone point in the second, before allowing Cowichan Valley back into the game.
The Caps capitalized on a sloppy defense and some untimely turnovers to get back into the game, making the score 5-3 by the end of the second period, before coming back with four third period goals to steal the two points.
"I thought we worked pretty hard on Saturday," said coach Dale Marquette. "I just thought that there were three or four key plays that swung the momentum."
One of those plays came early in the third period. WIth Quesnel leading 5-3 and on the powerplay, Capitals' forward Ryan Finnerty stole the puck from Kelly Riou and broke in alone on goalie Jason Montgomery, putting the puck behind the goalie and pulling the Caps to within a goal.
Brett McMann restored Quesnel's two goal lead at 5:17 of the third, but the Capitals scored three times in the last 12 minutes, including the winner with just 32 seconds to play, to get the win.
On Friday night, the Mills played a good first period, before playing two lacklustre periods to give the game away.
Quesnel trailed 7-4 in the third before making it close at 7-6. An empty net goal sealed the Clippers' win.
Marquette admitted he was disapointed with the games, but said it was a learning process for the players that will be coming back next season.
"It's definitely not a step backwards," he said. "You've got to lose before you can win and both those games are prime examples of getting away from our game. It's part of the learning curve for us, to learn how to put teams away when we have them."
Veteran forwards Paul Kelley (3G, 3A) and Nick Udovicic (1G, 4A) led the way offensively on the weekend.
The Mills played Prince George at home Tuesday night. Results are not available due to press deadlines.
The team is on the road this weekend, with a Friday night game in Vernon before they host Trail for the final two games of the season, March 4th and 5th.
Meanwhile, while there is still no agreement on paper, Marquette says he does intend to be back to coach the team next season.
"I don't think there is any question about whether I'll come back," said Marquette, when asked about next season. "It's not a big issue."
Marquette has had positive results since taking over coach and general manager duties near the start of the season.
Mills rebound against PG
by Kevin Parnell
February 27, 2000
The Quesnel MIllionaires bounced back from two poor home ice games, to beat the visiting Prince George Spruce Kings on Tuesday nightin front of 550 boisterous fans at the Quesnel Twin Arenas.
The Mills eliminated the costly mistakes that cost them games to Nanaimo and Cowichan Valley last weekend, to earn a 3-2 win over the Spruce Kings.
The Mills played the spoiler role as the loss cost Prince George a chance to pull into a tie with Merritt for third place in the BCHL's Interior Division. The Kings remained two points behind Merritt heading into weekend action.
Penticton leads the Interior Division, eight points up on Vernon.
The Millionaires tightened up defensively to stifle Prince George shooters Tuesday night, while goalie Jason Montgomery made 35 saves to earn his 12th win of the season.
"I'm happy with the result," said coach Dale Marquette. "The difference was on the weekend, we weren't very good defensively. Tuesday, we were a lot better as finishing our checks."
Mills captain Nick Udovicic continued his torrid scoring pace of the past few weeks, opening the scoring 12 seconds into the second period on the powerplay. It was Udovicic's 31st goal of the season moving him into 17th in the league in scoring with 75 points.
Prince George's David Keough tied the score at 1-1 at 6:51 of the second, before Brent Heaven put Quesnel up 2-1 with his 5th of the season.
The Spruce Kings tied the score at 2-2 before the end of the second period.
But early in the second period, 20-year-old forward Paul Kelley scored the winning goal on a goal mouth scramble.
Kelly Riou beat the Spruce King defenseman wide and tried a wraparound. Kelley grabbed the rebound and chipped the puck high over the shoulder of goalie Kevin Lapointe just 15 seconds into the third period.
Montgomery withstood 12 Prince George shots in the final stanza to preserve the victory.
In the last seven games, in which Quesnel is 4-and-3, 20-year-old forwards Udovicic, Kelley, and Riou hav been carrying the biggest offensive load.
During that time, Udovicic has 16 points (5G, 11A), Kelley has 16 points (8G,8A), and Riou has 10 points (4G, 6A).
In those same seven games, 19-year-olds Rob Lommer has earned seven points (4G, 3A) while Reid Litster has five (2G, 3A).
Lommer and Litster will be among the returning players vying for a spot on the team as a 20-year-old.
"Every year players take another step to a new level of playing or leadership," said Marquette. "We've talked to the players that will be returning and basically told them they need to be prepared to take on a new role."
There are currently eight players on the roster that will play as 20-year-olds next season, while teams are only allowed to carry six.
Kelley to head South to explore NCAA
by Kevin Parnell
March 5, 2000
When Quesnel MIllionaire players pack their bags and head home after the BCHL season this week, at least one player will be taking a side trip.
Speedy forward Paul Kelley has been invited to fly to Colgate University in upstate New York to talk about a scholarship.
Kelley was approached by Colgate assistant coach Andrew Dickson after the Mills February 12th game against Merritt, a game in which Kelley scored two goals in a 4-3 loss.
"He liked the game and thought I played well," said Kelley of his visit with Dickson. "He liked my speed and said that was oneof the things they looked for at Colgate."
Colgate, a liberal arts school, is located in Hamilton, New York and plays Division 1 hockey in the NCAA.
"The five-foot-nine inch, 180 pound Kelley has played very well the past month after struggling through injury problems for much of the first half of the season.
"It was frustrating," he said. "Especially when you're getting injured. It was hard to get any confidence or get on any kind of roll."
In 48 games this season, Kelley has 22 goals and 31 assists, putting him second behind Mills' captain Nick Udovicic in team scoring.
The 20-year-old credits a work ethic instilled by coach Dale Marquette for turning his season around.
"I think just working hard during the season and during practice," he said, "Eventually it started to turn around for me."
Following his fly-down to Colgate, Kelley will return to his home in Grand Forks.
Since coming to Quesnel last season in a trade from Burnaby, he's come to enjoy the city.
"When I came here from Burnaby, it wasn't a good time for the Mills, so at first it was tough," he said. But since then it has been great. Dale has done a lot of good things. As far as the way the season is ending for me, it couldn't be better."
With thte Millionaires out of the playoffs again this season, Kelley says the team has tried to remain focussed on playing hard.
And he says he sees good things for the future of the team. "I think if Dale is back, it will be awesome. I think he'll make quite a few changes but the team will be good."
Mills wind-up with Banquet
March 7, 2000
Awards were given out at the banquet held on Sunday evening following the Millionaires last regular season home game. Here's the winners:
Rookie of the Year Brett Gilmour
Scholastic Achievement Brett Barefoot
Most Improved Travis Jeck
Top Defenseman Ryan Bremner
Most Dedicated Paul Kelley
Top Scorer Nick Udovicic
Fan Favorite Paul Kelley
President's Choice for most unselfish on and off the ice Kevin Nelson
Team MVP Jason Montgomery and Nick Udovicic
Millionaires' year ends on a downer
By Kevin Parnell
March 8, 2000
The BCHL season ended on a sour note for the Quesnel Millionaires, as the team dropped its final game to the hapless Trail Smoke Eaters, giving the Smokies just their eighth win of the season, and their first victory in nine games.
In what could have been a celebration of a season in which the team has taken positive steps under head coach Dale Marquette, the weekend games against Trail, a 9-7 win Saturday and 6-5 loss Sunday, instead turned the post-season atmosphere bitter.
"There were definitely some players who played themselves off of this team this weekend," Marquette said on Sunday. "Overall I'm happy with some of the moves we made but I'm disappointed with some of the players down the stretch."
Marquette said he was specifically disappointed with his goaltending after both Bill Dick and Jason Montgomery struggled on the last weekend of play. Dick earned just his sixth win of the season in Saturday nights 9-7 win and came in in relief of Jason Montgomery for Sunday's 6-5 loss. "I thought our goaltending was set, but I'm not happy with it after this weekend," said Marquette.
Despite a shaky end to the season, Montgomery had a superb season between the pipes. The 19-year-old Blaine, Washington native finished with a 12-and-27 record, but was left with little defensive help for much of the first half of the season. "There were ups and downs the whole season," said the six-foot-one Montgomery, already home in Washington. "Everything just worked out for me. I was capable of playing well and I just got a chance." Montgomery's 4.25 goals against average and 89.2 save percentage are the best goaltending stats the Mills have had in years, a vast improvement on his 5.10 GAA and 86.2 save percentage last season in 29 games with Chilliwack.
The Mills honoured the four 20-year-olds who are leaving junior hockey on Sunday, handing out Millionaire jerseys. Captain Nick Udovicic, Paul Kelley, Kelly Riou, and local product Craig Tresierra all finished their junior hockey careers on the weekend.
Tresierra said he has many fond memories of playing in his home town. "There were a lot of good guys and fun times," he said after Sunday's loss. "It would have been a lot nicer if we had made playoffs."
Udovicic finished his season with a bang, earning three goals and six assists in the two game finale with Trail. The Burnaby native played in all 60 games this year, scoring 34 goals and addind 52 assists to finish 15th in the league in scoring.
Riou, who scored four goals Saturday in front of his father, who had driven in from Saskatchewan, said he feels at home in Quesnel, after just one season. "I love Quesnel," he said. "Everybody has been great to me. It's too bad we have to leave on this note."
The Millionaires handed out their year end awards following the weekend's play and Captain Nick Udovicic and goalie Jason Montgomery shared MVP honours. Montgomery posted an 89.2 save percentage, while Udovicic's 86 points led the team. Paul Kelley won the most dedicated player award, Ryan Bremner was named top blueliner, Brett Gilmour earned rookie of the year honours, Travis Jeck was most improved and Brett Barefoot won the scholastic award.
Marquette runner-up for Interior coach of the year
By Kevin Parnell
March 8, 2000
Dale Marquette didn't get the Millionaires into the playoffs this season.
What he did do, however, was turn a club that began the season in a major slumber into one of the league's hardest working teams.
His work was recognized by the BCHL this week when the 31-year-old came second to Penticton's Breyant Perrier for Interior Division Coach of the Year honors.
If you take away the Mills 0-and-5 start and the first month under Marquette, the team was 16-25 the rest of the way and 11-and-9 at home.
"I think we came a long ways," he said. "Overall, I'm pretty happy. We competed with everyone in our division."
The future success of the Mills depends on bringing Marquette back, and it appears he will coach here next season. "This is where I want to be and this is what I want to do," he said Sunday. "They want to win here and that's the bottom line. The first thing I asked myself after the first two months was'do these people want to win?' and they do."
Despite improving over the course of the season, the team finished 28 points out of the playoffs. And they will lose this season's top three scorers (Udovicic, Kelley, Riou).
Recruiting will be a key in the off-season. "I know a lot of people in the hockey world and I've got stacks of names of players that I haven't seen," said Marquette. "Now it's getting out on the road and seeing some of the provincial hockey tournaments."
There are 17 players eligible to come back next season, eight of them will be 20-year-olds, two over the league maximum.
Marquette says he knows what he'll be looking for this summer. "We need a quality impact defenseman and an impact forward," he said. "I'm looking for attitude over skill. Give me a good attitude and I'll turn you into a hockey player."
From one PG guy to another
By Kevin Parnell
March 12, 2000
I know what you're feeling. I've been there. I too, grew up in Prince George. In fact, if you remember, I lived beside Lisa, your wife, and her family (hi everybody).
The reason I am writing to you is to tell you that we want you to coach the Mills for a long time.
Before I moved to Quesnel, I didn't even know there was a West Quesnel, and only stopped here to get a slurpee at 7-11 as we drove through town.
But I have come to love Quesnel, and I think that when you move here with Lisa and your new daughter, you, too, will never want to go back to Pigs Gorge. (Umm I mean Prince George). Here's why.
**Our Bantam A Hockey Team Beat yours. Prince George teams always think they can beat us small towners from Quesnel. Not so, and we'd love it if you could be our coach so we could stick it to the Spruce Kings year after year.
**Family. You will be close enough to your family, but far enough away that they can't drop by when you're watching TV in your underwear. (Sorry mom, but I like to watch TV in my underwear).
**Movies. We don't have projectionists at our theatre, so you can go to a movie on the medium screen without passing through a picket line.
**The Gold Pan. Our Gold Pan could knock Mr PG out with one fell swoop.
**Traffic. 'Nuff said.
**Air Quality. Ours is just as bad as yours, maybe worse. Ok, that's one for PG.
I hope this makes your long term decision easier. And by the way, we've got better fishing down here too.
Marquette back in the saddle
Inks one-year deal; plans move to Quesnel next season
By Kevin Parnell
March 12, 2000
Dale Marquette will be back to coach the Quesnel Millionaires next year. And when the season arrives, the Prince George native will have his family with him, and will be living in Quesnel.
Marquette, the 31-year-old former junior hockey star, was the runner-up for the BCHL Interior Division coach of the year this season after taking over the MIllionaires early in the year.
"I want to win here, and in order to do that, I obviously have to come back," said Marquette after his signing was made official this week. "Kit (Collins) and the Quesnel organization are determined to provide a winner for the town and I believe I took the first quality steps this year."
When Marquette took over the Mills early this season, there were questions about how effective he could be, coaching the team while living in Prince George.
The fact that Marquette plans to live in Quesnel was a key to the deal, according to Mills' president Kit Collins.
"It was a must," she said. "I think he could squeeze by as a coach, but not with the general manager duties as well. I think Dale would be the first to admit he has a lot to learn about the hockey club and the city."
Althought the commute from Prince George didn't appear to affect how the team played this season, Marquette admits it wasn't the best situation.
"I think the commute definitely didn't allow me to be as hands-on as I need to be," he said. "(Next year) I will take a lot bigger role within the club, not just the hockey end of it. Last year, I came here to do the hockey end, but in order to do a quality job we plan to move here in August."
Marquette's deal is for one year, but both he and the Mills believe it could turn into a long term situation.
"We will deal with this season for now," said Marquette, "but inorder to get on the right page, it's a three year plan. I'm just not interested in burning a bridge back home until I know exactly what is happening (with his summer job)."
Collins says the Mills are always looking for the stability of a long-term coach and general manager, and she hopes they've found it.
"If that works out, it's a good thing for the Mills," she said. "When they're down here, I think they could fit in very well. If Dale likes coaching so much, I don't see why he would want to go back to Prince George."
First year Mills' assistant Ross Crawford has also been hired to come back as Marquette's assistant next season. Crawford, who made the step from player to coach in just one season, says it was a big change.
"You have to be so much more in control of your emotions," said Crawford. "It was a new experience, but an enjoyable one. I enjoyed woking with Dale and I'm looking forward to learning a lot more from him."
Marquette says he will be adding another assistant to work with him and Crawford behind the bench next season.
For now, Marquette is heading out on the road to begin looking at future prospects. With his return to Quesnel next season now a done deal, the future appears bright for the Quesnel franchise as they look to make the BCHL playoffs for the first time.
Udovicic looking to keep on playing
By Kevin Parnell
March 12, 2000
Nick Udovicic wants to keep on playing hockey. The Mills' captain, scoring leader, and co-MVP has yet to sign a deal with a US College, but has talked to several schools and is expected to sign sometime this summer.
"I've talked to Findlay, Ohio and things sound alright there," said Udovicic. "I'm playing the waiting game. Dale's going to talk to some schools. I think something should come up."
Udovicic had by far his best year as a junior as a 20-year-old. He not only stepped up his on-ice play and as a leader in the dressing room, but also grew as a person.
"It was a great character building time in Quesnel," he said. "Dale worked with me and believed in me. I learned a lot about being a good person too."
Udovicic came to Quesnel midway through last season with fellow 20-year-old Paul Kelley in a trade for Scott Ganes and Dusty Leanhardt. It was a move that worked out well for Quesnel.
Udovicic had 34 goals and 52 assists this season. The next highest scorer was Kelley, who finished with 57 points, 29 points less than Udovicic.
Last year wasn't the first time Udovicic was traded to Quesnel. As an 18-year-old, the Mills bought the Burnaby native's rights from Castlegar and then sold him to Burnaby prior to last season.
But it's Quesnel that Udovicic will think of when he thinks back on his junior career.
"I'll remember my time in junior hockey as a Quesnel MIllionaire because I got a chacne to play," he said. "You get treated unreal here. I played in Surrey (29 games in 1997-98), a team that won it all, and we were pieces of meat. I felt a lot better up here. It's more of a development team. You get treated first class here."
While many players in Udovicic's situation change their focus from hockey to school, the six-foot centre says his focus will remain firmly on a career in hockey.
"I want to take hockey seriously," he said. "School is important, but hockey is what I want to do. I know I'm 20 and there are guys my age in the NHL, but as long as I keep learning the game, I want to head in that direction and I'm not afraid to give it a shot. I'll keep it real though. I have a good enough head on my shoulders to know to keep it real."
While Udovicic heads home to Burnaby and hopes to hook up with a division 1 US college, the MIllionaires will be busy trying to fill the large void that his leaving has created.
And if Udovicic has his way, we may just see him playing pro hockey in the future.
"Monty" runner-up for top goalie
By Kevin Parnell
March 12, 2000
As the BCHL playoffs kicked off this week, the league continued to hand out its post season awards, and Quesnel's Jason Montgomery has been recognized for his stellar season.
Montgomery was named the runner-up for the Interior Division goalie of the year award.
His 4.25 goals against average and 89.2 save percentage were the best numbers a Quesnel goalie has posted in the BCHL.
Penticton's David Rathjen won the award, after earning five shutouts and setting a new BCHL record for scoreless minutes at 184.48.
Cowichan Valley tender Jordan Watt was the coastal conference winner.
The BCHL also handed out its top defenseman and rookie honours this week.
Prince George blueliner David Keough was the runaway winner in the Interior Conference as the most valuable defender, scoring 87 points and playing solid defense.
The Interior division runner-up for top defenseman was Penticton captain Chad Deleeuw, who led his team to the league's best record in his final season of junior hockey.
In the coastal conference, Rob Marshall of the Chilliwack Chiefs earned the honour. In his first season with the Chiefs, the six-foot-one, 185 pound blueliner scored nearly a point a game while providing a physical presence.
Cowichan Valley's Pat Stachniak, one of the league's most punishing hitters, was the Coastal conference runner-up.
Meanwhile, three players were honoured as rookie of the year.
Penticton's Sean Fields, John Morlang of the Prince George Spruce Kings, and Blair Barlow of the Nanaimo Clippers were all voted the most impressive first year players by coaches and management around the BCHL.
Morlang, a six-foot-two 18-year-old, averaged better than a point per game for the Kings, tallying 70 points while playing in all 60 games.
Fields was nothing short of spectacular down the stretch for the Panthers. The 19-year-old from Edmonton finished the year with 22 wins, three shut-outs, a 2.85 goals against average and an 89.8 save percentage.
Barlow, a six-foot, 190 pound defenseman was solid as a rock on Nanaimo's blueline. The 19-year-old has signed a letter of intent with Harvard for next season.
The BCHL also released its All-Rookie team and while both Morlang and Barlow were given the nod, Fields was edged out by Victoria's Jordan Sigalet in goal.
Vernon's Reilly Olson, who amassed 27 points in 57 games, Chilliwack's Gabe Gauthier and Burnaby's Mike Meech also made the All-Rookie Team.
Udovicic signs NCAA deal
By Kevin Parnell
March 26, 2000
He was in on 42 percent of the Quesnel Millionaires offense this season, the second best percentage in the BCHL.
Now Nick Udovicic will look to take his game to another level, American College Hockey.
Udovicic, the Mills' captain this past BCHL season, signed a scholarship deal with the University of Findlay, Ohio this week, a full tuition deal valued at $16,000 (US) per year.
"It was a bit of a rough season in Quesnel, but I stuck it out because I felt comfortable and because I thought the organization did a lot for me," said Udovicic from his home in Burnaby. "It feels pretty good, just knowing that beside my name is a school. It's awesome."
Udovicic carried a heavy offensive load for the mills this past season, scoring 34 goals and 52 assists. That put him in 15th place in BCHL scoring.
While many players turn their attention more towards schooling when they get a college scholarship, Udovicic will remain focussed on developing more as a hockey player, and not just school.
"I want to play," he said. "I want to move on in hockey. School is important but its number two. I want to mature and get stronger and wiser."
Findlay, Ohio is a city of about 40,000 people. It's the same university former Millionaire Jason Maxwell played at this season, after inking a scholarship deal after the 1998-1999 BCHL season.
Udovicic says he accepted the offer from Findlay because he feels he has a chance to step nto the lineup as a rookie.
"I want to play, I don't want to sit on the bench for my first year and this is the best opportunity to make a step. How big of a step is up in the air," he said.
Findlay coaches have told Udovicic that the second line centre position is up for grabs for the team, which is in a rebuilding program, much like the Mills are.
Meanwhile, fellow Millionaire Paul Kelley is still waiting for word on a possible scholarship from Colgate University.
Kelley flew down to Colgate following the season but the University is still trying to find money in its budget for another scholarship.
Both BCHL veterans will be kicking their feet up in Mexico in a couple of weeks, before continuing off-season workouts.
Udovicic, who says he is in better shape now than at the end of the season, says it will be different getting used to a new league.
"I think its similar to our division," he said. "The guys will be older and more mature, but I should be ready to take the next step."
As well as going after a hockey career, Udovicic plans to take the BC Certified Personal Trainer Course this summer before heading to Findlay, where he plans to study human kinetics.
Marsh's Bears Win
By Kevin Parnell
March 29, 2000
When Ryan Marsh saw the winning goal go into the net, propelling his University of Alberta Golden Bears to the CIAU hockey title, it was like watching a dream. "When I saw (CIAU Player of the Year) Russ Hewson pick up the puck and go around the net, it was like watching it in slow motion," said Marsh. "I saw the puck go up and hit the mesh and I took off after him."
The goal came in double overtime on Sunday and gave the Golden Bears a 5-4 win over the University of New Brunswick and their second straight University Cup. Interestingly enough, another former Millionaire, Craig Minard anchors the defense in an assistant captian role for the University of New Brunswick.
"I don't know if I can put it into words," said Marsh, 24. "After we won, we hopped on a bus and drove all night. The next thing I know, we're at school and we're carrying the cup around and our banner is up at one of the university pubs. It's an unbelievable feeling."
The win capped off Marsh's third playing season with U of A. He has one season left of eligibility and is leaning towards returning for his final season. "It would have to be something really huge to take me away from the program," said the six-foot-one, 205 pound blueliner. "It's been a really special program and we have pretty much all of our team coming back next year."
Marsh will graduate with a physical education degree this year, but may return to school next year to complete a two-year after degree program.
The former Quesnel Millionaire and Tri-City American says he also wants to continue with his hockey career. "At this point, I see myself playiing for a few more years," he said. "Whether it be in the minors here in North America, or over in Europe, I definitely see myself playing for a while."
Millionaires hire Marketing Director
By Kevin Parnell
April 5, 2000
The Quesnel Millionaires are hoping to move in a new direction over the next several years.
With coach and General Manager Dale Marquette secured for at least the next season, they've made the neccessary on-ice moves. Now the club is tinkering with its off-ice personnel.
To that end, they've hired a new marketing director to help promote the team.
Marilyn Allin is the newest member of the Millionaires' off-ice team. "I want to make sure the Millionaires put as much back into the community as the community puts into the Millionaires," she said.
The team is kicking off a ticket blitz this month to try and imrove the number of season ticket holders. For the first time in four years, regular season ticket prices will see an increase, by $1.
Allin says with the addition of Marquette as coach and general manager, the team is moving in a new and exciting direction.
"The Collins' (Kit and Gary) want to see the team as a benefit to the community," she said. "They want to put a good quality hockey team together, on and off the ice."
Former BCHL star wins college title
From BC Hockey Now
April 15, 2000
Last year, Ryan Bayda won a Canadian Junior A Championship with the Vernon Vipers. This season, the Saskatchewan product graduated from the BCHL to win a NCAA title with the North Dakota Sioux.
North Dakota beat the Boston College Eagles 4-2 in the Division 1 American college championship game April 8 in Providence, RI. Bayda had an assist in the game to finish his freshman season with 17 goals and 23 assists in 43 games.
Although neither BC nor North Dakota featured any BC-born players, the Sioux had four BCHL grads on its roster.
Joining Bayda in North Dakota were Pat Kenny (Quesnel Millionaires), Travis Roche (Trail Smoke Eaters), and Aaron Schneekloth (South Surrey Eagles).
In other college hockey news, Boston College defenseman Mike Mottau won the Hobey Baker Memorial Award, beating out a field of nine others including former Chilliwack Chief and Castlegar native Shawn Horcoff.
Kelley signs with Colgate
By Kevin Parnell
April 16, 2000
A second Quesnel Millionaire has earned a US College Hockey Scholarship. Speedy forward Paul Kelley inked a deal with Colgate University this week.
The five-foot-nine inch, 18 pound winger got off to a slow start in his 20-year-old BCHL season, but finished strong, scoring 22 goals and 35 assists in 51 games.
Kelley flew down to Colgate after being scouted near the end of the season at a road game in Merritt.
"I think Paul's speed will be a good asset to any team," Millionaires' coach Dale Marquette said this week. "He's not a big player, but he plays like one. He gets involved and you can depend on him to show up every day."
Kelley, who is currently out of the country visiting his mother in Egypt, has been waiting since early March for Colgate to come up with funds for another scholarship.
Following the season, he said he was happy with the way things went in Quesnel. "When I came to the Millionaires, it wasn't a good time for the team," he said in an interview. "But since then it's been great. As far as the way the season ended for me, it couldn't be better."
Kelley joins fellow linemate Nick Udovicic in the NCAA. Udovicic earlier signed with Findlay, Ohio.
Former Mills Jason Maxwell, Gerald Overton and Casey Bartzen are also playing NCAA hockey.
Marquette, who has been on the road on recruiting trips since the season ended, says the signing of Kelley bodes well for the Millionaires' franchise.
"It's good for the organization as a whole," he said. "Both players (Kelley and Udovicic) were asked before the trade deadline if they wanted to finish the season with a playoff team, and both enjoyed where they were and didn't want to. That's a benefit to what direction we're going in."
Colgate is a division one NCAA school located in Hamilton, New York.
Capitals hire Greg Adams
By Kevin Parnell
April 16, 2000
The Cowichan Valley Capitals have turned to a former NHL player as their next coach.
The Capitals have hired Greg C. Adams (Not to be confused with Greg Adams of Vancouver Canucks fame) as head coach.
Adams played ten seasons and over 500 games in the NHL, playing for the likes of Glen Sather, Bryan Murray and Pat Quinn.
His best season came in 1985-86 as a member of the Washington Capitals when he had 18 goals and 38 assists.
Adams takes over from Neil Saunders, who was hired as interim coach in January after the Capitals let go coach Rick Hillier on December 31st. Saunders will remain as an assistant coach.
Mills sign new assistant coach
By Kevin Parnell
April 19, 2000
The Quesnel Millionaires continue to build for the future, this time dipping into the Prince George Spruce Kings system to sign a new assistant coach.
The Millionaires have added Aaron Wilbur to the coaching staff, joining head man Dale Marquette and assistant Ross Crawford.
Wilbur, 19, will act as a goaltending coach during the season, but his main duty this off-season is recruiting.
Last year, the former junior A goalie coached the Kamloops Midget Rep team and was also a scout for the Kings.
He'll be hitting the road at the beginning of May on a scouting trip that will take him to various scouting camps right across Canada.
"This community and organization has all the right elements to bring kids here," said Wilbur. "We're just going to have to work harder than everybody else over the next few years."
Marquette says adding Wilbur is a significant move for the club and he sees his age as a benefit.
"I like younger guys as assistant coaches simply because of my coaching style," said Marquette. "The players need to have an outlet to relax them. If the coaches are young, they can have a really good relationship with the players."
Wilbur is happy with the move to Quesnel. "Hopefully, I can bring some top notch talent here, I think the town has a lot to offer."
Marquette: building his own team
By Kevin Parnell
April 23, 2000
"If I'm excited about anything, it's coming in with my own hockey team from the beginning."
Those words come from Millionaires' coach and general manager Dale Marquette this week as he sat in the team office, planning next year's version of the Quesnel Millionaires.
"In the past, I've taken over other guys teams. Now, with Ross (Crawford) and Aaron (Wilbur, new assistant coach), we're all excited."
Since the close of the BCHL regular season, the fourth for the Quesnel Millionaires in the BCHL, and the fourth without a playoff berth, Marquette has been alternately on the road looking for young hockey players, or at home, working the phones, talking to prospects or laying the groundwork for future trades.
In that time, he found a new assistant coach, goaltending coach Aaron Wilbur, who came from the Kamloops Midget Rep team and also uncovered a few prospects. Nobody that he will talk about however, in the uncertain world of recruiting in the BCHL.
Both Marquette and Wilbur, who will be crossing Canada looking for players beginning next month, debunked the myth this week that players don't want to come to Quesnel to play.
"We're selling the fact that you're coming into a small community and a good community where you're accountable every time you step out of your billets house," says Marquette.
Marquette, whose name and stellar reputation proceeds him every where he goes in this province, is one of the big selling points as the coaches try to attract players here.
"We can sell Dale to the kids," says Wilbur. "He brings the right background to the club. We're aware of Quesnel's reputation (as a tough recruit), but the bottom line is that kids want to play."
"The good thing is we're part of the best junior A Hockey league in Canada. Next year we should make an improvement and the year after, I think we will make big strides."
The third member of the coaching triumvirate is Ross Crawford, who cut his teeth as a first year assistant coach last year with the Millionaires and will remain behind the bench this season.
"It was an enjoyable experience," says Crawford. "You have to be more in control of your emotions. I think we're going to have a solid team next year."
As Marquette works the phone, he is looking at unloading at least a few of the returning 20-year-olds the team has.
Under BCHL rules, teams can carry six 20-year-old players, but Marquette only wants to have about four, leaving the door open for late season trades for a proven veteran.
"In order for us to compete in the trading end of things, we need to build a base of young guys," he says. "We're looking at bringing back four of the eight twenty year olds."
One of those 20s is sure to be goalie Jason Montgomery, coming off the best goaltending season the Millionaires have had in years.
Wilbur, who was a goalie in junior A in Saskatchewan and Manitoba before calling it quits to join the coaching ranks, will be asked to tutor Montgomery.
"From what I've heard and watching him play a few games," says Wilbur, "I think he's ready to step up and have a big year. He's going to be a big key for this team, especially for the young guys we're going to have coming in."
After years of icing a losing team, the future appears to be turning around for the Quesnel Millionaires. They are recruiting harder than they ever have and are selling a proven coach.
They nearly reached the .500 mark last year at home, despite beginning with seven straight losses. And they have some stability, with Marquette and his family moving to Quesnel for next season.
The proof, as always however, will be on the ice.
Millionaires "scoop" big Alaskan defenseman
By Kevin Parnell
April 30, 2000
In what is a sign of a new regime, the Quesnel Millioniares have come to an agreement with a highly sought after junior hockey prospect.
The Millionaires have received a commitment from 17-year-old Nathan Schwartzbauer, a six-foot four inch, 210 pound defenseman who played high school and midget level hockey last season in Wasilla, Alaska.
Schwartzbauer, who will hit the ice next season as an 18-year-old, was being courted by several teams in the BCHL and in the United States Junior Hockey League, but settled on Quesnel, largely because of the treatment he received from the Millionaires' coaching staff.
"There has been some other coaches that called me and said 'my name is....' and said they would send me stuff," Schwartzbauer says from his Alaska home. "But when Quesnel called me, we spent about an hour on the phone, talking about my future and their future. They didn't just say 'we'll send you stuff.'"
Schwartzbauer and the Millionaires have a verbal agreement in place, begging questions about the liklihood he will be coming here when training camp opens.
"Right now, it's a verbal agreement," says the Alaska-born blueliner. "But I'm definitely coming to Quesnel."
Since beginning his recruit this off-season, coach and general manager Dale Marquette has fielded numerous questions about Quesnel being a tough recruit. This signing does a lot to put that myth to rest.
"I don't care what happened in the past," says Marquette prior to heading back on the scouting trail this weekend. "As far as recruiting, myself and the Millionaires are looking to tomorrow and we're working hard to find players. You have to sell something more than just hockey."
What they are selling is a new education package tailored to get players taking the proper courses to move on to college or university, and run by Marquette's wife Lisa.
Schwartzbauer says his future education played a big part in choosing the Millionaires and the BCHL. "Something I want to do is get a good education during junior and after junior," he says. "I looked at how many kids went to college from the BCHL and I thought it would be the better place to play."
Marquette says the team is happy to get a quality player and person that will add depth to the defense.
Schwartzbauer is coming off a highly decorated final season of high-school hockey, when he was named to the first team All-State Team, the fastest skater in the region, the hardest hitter on his team, as well as the team MVP.
He is considered a heavy hitting defensive defenseman. "I'm really physical," he says. "I love being physical. I won't score a lot of points, but I won't let anybody by me. When someone comes into my zone, I hit them. I won't let anybody intimidate me."
Marquette signs long term
By Kevin Parnell
June 7, 2000
The Quesnel Millionaires and coach/general manager Dale Marquette have agreed on a five year contract that will keep Marquette in Quesnel through the 2004/2005 BCHL season.
"It's something I knew I wanted to do, I just needed to clear up a few other things," said Marquette.
"I wouldn't have signed here for five years if I didn't have the hope of being here for five years."
Marquette has quit his job with the City of Prince George and will be moving to Quesnel with his wife Lisa and their daughter sometime this summer.
The Marquette Regime
Coach/g.m. looks to future after signing long term deal
By Kevin Parnell
June 11, 2000
When Dale Marquette took over the Quesnel Millionaires last season, he thought it would be for one year, to help the franchise turn around and get on their feet.
He wasn't coaching at the time, having split from the Prince George Spruce Kings, and the Gassoff brothers jumped at the chacne to bring a high-quality coach to the Millionaires.
Once Marquette saw how the franchise operated, his thoughts began to turn to long term goals for the perennial losing franchise.
"When I came back into [coaching] I came back into it with the intention of helping out for a season," Marquette says, days after signing a new five year deal to coach and manage the Millionaires. "After being in Quesnel for a while, I saw how bad they wanted to win, and that's what I'm all about."
This week, the Millionaires announced they were tearing up Marquette's old contract, and extending it for five more years.
If he makes it the full term, and he says that he wants to, the deal will keep Marquette coaching the Mills through the 2004/05 BCHL season.
"The Millionaires and Marquette both agree that in order to build a strong program for the future, long term stability is critical," says team president Kit Collins. "We are pleased to have Dale on board and look forward to having him and his family living in Quesnel full-time."
From the Millionaires' point of view, Marquette moving to Quesnel was the key to the deal. Collins was never convinced Marquette could do the job from Prince George.
Marquette has now quit his job with the City of Prince George and will be putting his Prince George home up for sale as he and his wife Lisa, and their newborn daughter, prepare to permanently move to Quesnel.
"We're both excited," says Marquette. "It's a whole new challenge. We have a new baby and it just seemed to all fall into place. We're going to raise our daughter in a place that is close enough to our immediate families."
As for the on-ice product, the Millionaires have been recruiting harder than they ever have this off-season.
In the past month, assistant coach Aaron Wilbur has been to Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Alaska.
The team has already snared a highly sought after defenseman from Alaska, six-foot-four inch, 210 pound Nathan Schwartzbauer, and Marquette says recruiting is going well.
"We're getting good response from lots of good hockey players," he says. "The BCHL, more than ever, is becoming the premier league in attracting players from everywhere and there's only a certain number of spots available. With Aaron being all over the place, our name getting out there is huge."
Marquette wants to bring a big team into the small confines of the Quesnel Twin Arenas. With one of the smaller ice surfaces in the league, he wants teams to be pounded when they come into Quesnel.
"There's no question, I think the bigger guys on the little ice just close the ice off and don't give guys a lot of room to move," he says. "I want a bigger team that's physical but not stupid."
As for the goals of the franchise, making the playoffs for the first time since entering the BCHL is the main goal this season.
"I think we're capable of being a playoff team every year in this league, as long as we maintain some depth with our young players and not try to win every year with an older base. I think the fans want to see a hard working team that's going to compete every night."
Although Marquette isn't saying much about the crop of returning players, you can bet there will be some significant turnovers among the 17 players eligible to come back.
"There are a few 20-year-olds that won't be back," he says, "and I think there's some players that played on our team last year that will have a tough time making our team this year."
Mills to honour history in 25th season
By Kevin Parnell
Junior Hockey in the city of Quesnel has had its ups and downs, likely more of the latter in the recent history, but when it all began 25 years ago, the Millionaires were a bit of a dynasty in junior B circles.
And to celebrate the Millionaires' silver anniversary junior hockey season, the club is planning several special events this year.
The first will be the 3rd annual Millionaires' Golf Tournament that will take place next Sunday.
Both the coach and the general manager of the Millionaires that first hockey season, Bob Johnston and Norm Kjemhus have been invited to tee off at the tournament next Sunday.
In the 1975-76 season, Johnston and Kjemhus were at the helm when Quesnel joined the Peace Junior Hockey League with Prince George, making it the Peace Cariboo Junior Hockey League and joining existing teams in Fort St. John, Dawson Creek, and Grande Prairie.
In their second season, the Millionaires claimed the PCJHL title and also the Cyclone Taylor Cup for the BC Junior B Championship. They would go on to three-peat as PCJHL champions only to hit some lean times through the 1980s.
"The Millionaires are very respectful of our heritage and all of the work that many people have put in for junior hockey in Quesnel," says team president Kit Collins. "This year, as the 25th season, we plan to show that respect in many of our events."
Along with Johnston and Kjemhus, current management and coaches are expected to tee off in the Texas Scramble Event.
From there, the MIllionaires are planning a huge kick-off to the season at their home opener Sept 22 against Trail.
Collins has invited all former players, management and staff to attend the opening night ceremonies. "We're trying to get back as many veterans as we can, whether they were a coach or a player," said Collins.
From the PCJHL, the Millionaires moved to the Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League and then, in the 1996/97 season, the club entered what is considered the top junior A hockey league in Canada, the BC Hockey League.
This season, after four seasons in the BCHL, the Millionaires will host the All-Star game on January 17th.
BCHLers selected in NHL entry draft
From The Quesnel Cariboo Observer
BCHL players made up the majority of Canadian Junior A Hockey Players selected in last weekend's NHL entry draft.
Of the 20 current junior A players and alumni, ten were from the BCHL. Four of them played their hockey last season in the BCHL.
Langley's Ivan Huml was the highest selection, picked in the second round, 59th overall, by the Boston Bruins.
Chilliwack's Nathan Martz was chosen by the New York Rangers in the fifth round while fellow Chief Nathan Marstars was chosen byt he LA Kings in the seventh round.
New Jersey selected Vernon's Kenny Magowan in the seventh round.
Alumni Gerard Dicaire, Matt Pettinger, Ryan Bayda, Sean O'Connor, Greg Zanon, and Paul Gaustad were also chosen.