BCHL Today: Prince George and Powell River close to moving on

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

Welcome to the March 9, 2018 edition of BCHL Today, a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

We start in Prince George where Ben Brar’s overtime winner has the Spruce Kings one game away from moving on and the Chilliwack Chiefs one loss away from a first round exit.

Brar scored 8:45 into extra time Thursday night as PG won 3-2 at the Rolling Mix Concrete Arena, taking a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven Mainland division series. Back on home ice, the Spruce Kings recovered the stifling defensive game that was briefly misplaced in a game four loss in Chilliwack. Prince George held the Chiefs to 24 shots. Evan DeBrouwer stopped 22 of them, with Bryan Allbee and Jared Turcotte scoring the goals.

Allbee, the Prince George native, had Chilliwack up 1-0 through 20 minutes, and Turcotte’s second period strike had the Chiefs up 2-1. Liam Watson-Brawn and Patrick Cozzi had the PG goals in regulation time, Cozzi’s power play snipe tying the game 2-2 late in period two.

Chilliwack fans will howl against the penalty disparity, which saw a 7-4 edge for the Spruce Kings in power play opportunities, including one in overtime when Tommy Lee was flagged for hooking. PG also had a two man advantage for 1:40 in the third period after back-to-back minors to Corey Andonovski (hooking) and Anthony Vincent.

I can’t take referees Bradlee Jones and Matt Hicketts to task for calling penalties after suggesting officials weren’t making calls just a few days ago, and sometimes penalties are so obvious you just have to call them regardless of what’s going on.

It’s a truth of refereeing that half the people are going to be mad at you no matter what you do. It just so happens that the 50 per cent with a beef is most consistently Chilliwack fans.

This series resumes Saturday night, 7 p.m. at Prospera Centre as the Chiefs try to avoid elimination.

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The Langley Rivermen stayed alive in their first round series vs Surrey after a wild 8-5 win Thursday night at the George Preston Arena.

Langley outshot Surrey 38-28 and went three for four on the power play, scoring five times in the third period.

The game was tied 1-1 through 20 minutes, with Ethan Leyh scoring for the Rivermen and Chase Danol replying for the Eagles. Surrey led 4-3 through 40 minutes before the roof caved in. Langley’s five third period goals came on just 13 shots against Surrey stopper Mario Cavaliere, who’d been exceptional in this series until last night.

Sean Gulka scored the go-ahead goal at 3:08 and a shorthanded snipe by Alec Capstick at 7:28 gave the Rivermen the lead. That was short-lived, with Surrey’s Ryan Brushett tying the score just 76 seconds later, but Gulka scored again at 15:02 followed by Brendan Budy at 16:36 and Leyh at 19:02.

On the topic of beefs with the refs, Eagle fans might be upset this morning. The last two Langley goals were scored on power plays, with Surrey’s John Wesley off for slashing and Jeffrey Stewart off for roughing.

Angus Crookshank picked up three assists in the Langley win.

Rivermen goalie Braedon Fleming continues to struggle. The Langley native posted a .963 save percentage in a 2-1 win in game three. Beyond that, he’s posted SPs of .875, .857, .886 and last night .821.

The Rivermen need a win on the road tonight when they visit the Eagles in a 7 p.m. start at the South Surrey Arena.

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The Powell River Kings are one win away from dispatching Nanaimo after a 3-2 road triumph Thursday night at the Frank Crane Arena.

It feels like I’ve been talking about Powell River goalies for weeks, and here I go again.

Matteo Paler-Chow turned in his third straight sparkling start, stopping 30 of 32 pucks. Over the last three games the 18 year old Vancouverite has turned in save percentages of .933, .943 and .938. As long as Paler-Chow plays like this, Kings coach Brock Sawyer can take his time getting injured starter Mitch Adamyk back into the lineup.

Nanaimo did all of their damage on the power play last night, getting extra-strength goals from David Melaragni and Tristan Crozier. The Clippers went two for five with the man advantage while Powell River struck out on five chances.

But the Kings cashed in at even strength. Ben Berard and Kevin Obssuth scored five-on-five goals in the second period and Carter Turnbull produced the game winner with just 1:29 to go in the game.

Have I mentioned that this series has lived up to its billing?

Aside from a 4-1 Powell River win in game one, each of the games has been decided by one goal. The Kings can close out the series on home ice tomorrow night, with a 7 p.m. start at the Hap Parker Arena.

But I want this one to go seven just for fun.

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Five BCHL grads have been named to All-WCHA teams.

The Western Collegiate Hockey Association revealed the rosters of three all-star teams and one all-rookie team Thursday.

Former Langley Riverman Mitch McLain headlined the All-WCHA second team along with Coquitlam Express grad Adam Rockwood. McLain is finishing up his final season at Bowling Green, where he’s produced 24 points in 28 conference games. Rockwood is a junior at Northern Michigan, where he’s enjoyed an outstanding campaign.

Rockwood leads the conference with 24 assists and is tied for second in points with 32, leaving me wondering who beat him out for first-team recognition. Rockwood’s 38 total assists, including conference and non-conference play, are the most for any WCHA player since 2012-13.

Former Cowichan Cap and Chilliwack Chief Darien Craighead was named to the All-WCHA third team along with former Alberni Valley goalie Connor LaCouvee.

Craighead is a second year forward at Northern Michgan, where he scored 15 goals in conference play, including six game winners.

LaCouvee posted a conference-low 1.67 goals-against average with Minnesota State University, winning 17 games with two shutouts and a .915 save percentage.

Finally, Vernon Viper grad Steven Jandric was named to the WCHA All-Rookie team after a stellar season at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. The Prince George native had the fourth most rookie assists in the conference (14) and tallied 17 points overall.

If you’re curious about the WCHA, check this vid out.

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While the Alberni Valley Bulldogs try to eliminate the Victoria Grizzlies and advance to the second round of the playoffs tonight, they’ve just added a player who will help them next season.

Seventeen year old New York native Nicholas Seitz has signed with the Dawgs and could play two years in the BCHL before moving on to NCAA hockey. Seitz has already committed to the Princeton Tigers for 2020-21.

The teenager has spent this season with the U.S. Premier Hockey League’s U-18 P.A.L. Junior Islanders where he led his team with 11 goals and 24 points in 18 regular season games.

“Nick is a highly skilled player with good size and tremendous awareness and offensive instincts,” said Bulldogs head coach Matt Hughes in a team press release. “I had the opportunity to see him play over our Christmas break at the Mac’s Tournament in Calgary and he jumped out immediately as a high-end BCHL prospect and a great fit for our style of play. Everyone we’ve spoken to who has coached or played with Nick speaks very highly of his work ethic and character, and we’re thrilled he’s chosen to take the next steps in his development as a Bulldog.”

The Dawgs seem to be developing a pipeline to the Islanders. Former Islander Michael Sacco enjoyed a great rookie season (26-7-11-18) and has been huge for Alberni Valley in the playoffs (4-5-1-6).

This looks like a good get for AV.

Eric Welsh is the sports editor at the Chilliwack Progress and has been covering junior A hockey in B.C. and Alberta since 2003.

Email eric.welsh@theprogress.com

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