BCHL Today: Road heavy sched for Wenatchee Wild and a Mainland division deal

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

It’s interesting how BCHL teams are never shy about trading players within their own division.

In most leagues the idea is to send players as far away as possible, limiting their ability to haunt you in the future. How many times in the 48 year history of the Vancouver Canucks have they completed trades with the Edmonton Oilers or Calgary Flames?

Off the top of my head, I can think of four (Roman Oksuita/Paul Reinhart/Markus Granlund/Dana Murzyn).

Since the calendar flipped to September there have been four BCHL transactions, three involving division rivals.

On Tuesday the Coquitlam Express flipped 1998-born forward Sam Kozlowski to the Prince George Spruce Kings in return for 1999-born forward Ethan O’Rourke and future considerations.

New Prince George Spruce King Sam Kozlowski (left) in action with the Coquitlam Express last season. DAN FERGUSON PHOTO

These teams will meet eight times during the regular season, and could meet in the playoffs too, giving Kozlowski plenty of opportunity to make Coquitlam regret the deal. The Penticton native had eight goals and 30 points in 55 games last season.

O’Rourke could be a difference maker for the Express if he fails to stick with the Western Hockey League’s Swift Current Broncos.

I like that BCHL teams are willing to do business with their biggest rivals. It’ll add a little extra juice every time PG and Coquitlam meet this season.

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Other inter-divisional deals completed this week saw the Alberni Valley Bulldogs deal 1998-born forward Paul Selleck to the Cowichan Caps and 1999-born forward Liam Lytton to the Powell River Kings, both for futures.

The Dawgs brought in a player too, acquiring goalie Cole Demers (99) from the West Kelowna Warriors for futures.

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The Wenatchee Wild have unveiled their leadership group for the 2018-19 season.

Third-year forward Lucas Sowder will wear the captain’s C for the Interior conference titans, and seems due for a huge season after posting 22 goals and 60 points in 48 regular season outings last year.

Third-year defencemen Jacob Modry and Chad Sasaki and second year forward Murphy Stratton will wear alternate A’s.

Chad Sasaki (left) is one of three alternates in the Wenatchee leadership group. MARK BRETT PHOTO

Sticking with the Wild for a moment, did you know the team is opening the season with 11 straight road games?

Wenatchee visits Vernon and Surrey this weekend followed by trips to Merritt, West Kelowna, Alberni Valley, Chilliwack, West Kelowna, Vernon, Trail, Prince George and Chilliwack.

They don’t play a home game until October 12, when they’ll celebrate their 2017-18 BCHL championship win at the Town Toyota Center.

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The Trail Smoke Eaters have announced their leadership group.

Third-year forward Braeden Tuck will captain the Smokies with Kyle Chernenkoff and Hayden Rowan serving as assistant captains.

Braeden Tuck captains the Trail Smoke Eaters in 2018-19. JIM BAILEY PHOTO

Rowan is an interesting choice as a player with no prior ties to the team.

The 19 year old Ohio native is entering his first BCHL season after spending last season with the USHL’s Sioux City Musketeers.

Chernenkoff, on the other hand, is practically a home-grown player. A native of nearby Crescent Valley, Chernenkoff played for the junior B Nelson Leafs before joining Trail.

We’re excited to have a strong leadership group with us this season,” said Trail’s head coach and general manager Jeff Tambellini in a news release. “We believe that our leadership spans throughout our entire lineup and we’re happy to have these three at the forefront.”

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The Victoria Grizzlies will honour the Benn brothers at their home opener September 15.

The Penticton Vees provide the opposition as the jerseys of Jamie and Jordie Benn are raised to the rafters at the Q Centre.

Jordie, a defenceman, wore No. 8 during 172 regular season and 39 playoff games with Victoria. The team was known as the Salsa during his first two seasons (2004-05, 2005-06), and the Grizzlies for his last two.

Now 31 years old, Jordie’s gone on to play 405 games in the National Hockey League for the Dallas Stars and Montreal Canadiens. His 29 year old brother Jamie is an NHL superstar with Dallas, where he has produced 263 goals and 616 points in 686 career games.

Jamie wore No. 16 during his 72 games with the Salsa/Grizzlies from 2005-06 to 2007-08.

Check out this excellent article by Victoria News reporter Lindsey Horsting for more on their jersey retirements.

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The Surrey Eagles have gone through their fair share of offseason turmoil, but according to this excellent in-depth article from Peace Arch News reporter Nick Greenzian, the team is ready to roll for new bench boss Peter Schaefer.

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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