Report from the Viking Cup

By HF Staff

Thumbs up to co-coaches Mark Holick, Mike Vandekamp, general manager Garry Davidson and the entire British Columbia Hockey League squad, which brought back a silver medal from the Viking Cup in Camrose, Alta.

The only loss for Team BCHL came in the final, a 5-4 loss to AugustanaUniversity (or should I say Team Geritol). Augustana had players up to the age of 27.

So from seventh to second in two years for the best from the BCHL, not bad. Hold your heads up high boys. Now maybe we finally leave the whole Cowichan Valley/Viking Cup mess behind us, although I have a feeling there may be a few heated words at the league’s semi-annual general meetings in Nanaimo next week during the all-star break.

We all must agree though that hats go off to Cowichan for helping T.J. Caig achieve his goal of attending college.

When he departed for Minnesota and Duluth last week, Caig was the Caps leading scorer. Cowichan coach Greg Adams and his staff should be commended for doing their best to enable one of the most talented players in the league to take it to the next level.

Speaking of scholarships, 21 players have now committed to schooling for the 2002-03 season. The latest addition being Vernon’s Chad Clower, who gives the Vipers their fourth player who will be studying the three R’s next season, – reading, writing and wrist shots.

The Chilliwack Chiefs currently lead the way with five players having committed to head south of the border while South Surrey and Penticton each have three signings.

By the time you are perusing this version of Bear Pause, there likely will have been some substantial player movements as the trading deadline came and went on Thursday Jan. 10 (after Hockey Now deadlines). For all of the details, check out the list of roster moves below this article.

I can tell you that Powell River and Merritt hooked up for a transaction with the Kings, sending rookie Lance Essihos to the Centennials in return for Duaine Fetzner. It is also a possibility that talented forward Alex Nikiforuk was moved from Burnaby after Nikiforuk himself asked for a trade (a move that didn’t materialize at the trading deadline).

There is still talk that the Bulldogs could be swapping zip codes from Burnaby to Port Alberni. Season Ticket sales have begun in Port Alberni and word is that if enough tickets are sold and enough corporate dollars are promised, then Port Alberni could be enjoying Junior A hockey next season. I am sure this is another topic that could become popular during next week’s AGM in the Hub City.

It was quite the feat for the Nanaimo Clippers when they defeated Cowichan Valley during the Viking Cup. Nanamio had only 10 skaters dressed and managed to nip the Clips 2-1 in Duncan Dec. 29, only one night after being blanked 6-0 by Cowichan in Nanaimo.

Staying on the Island, Victoria owner Mark Wagstaff announced on Dec. 28 that Jay Longpre had been fired. The one-time voice of the Salsa was given the title of vice president and general manager last Oct. 25 after former head coach and general manager Campbell Blair left the Salsa to become an assistant coach of the University of Maine Black Bears of the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

“Needless to say, I was rather surprised,” said Longpre at a press conference in Victoria Jan. 2.

“I want to make it clear that there was no illegal activity on my part, no moral or ethical misconduct that would force (Wagstaff) to make this decision,” Longpre continued. “In the world of Mr. Wagstaff, it is either his way or the highway and at this stage I am left at the side of the highway with my thumb out looking for a new ride in 2002.”

The Salsa may also be without a key player in the near future. The Western Hockey League’s Kootenay Ice have made power forward Kyle Greentree an offer that he has had to think twice about. Greentree is also entertaining offers from U.S. colleges. All we can hope is that Kyle investigates all of his options very carefully and makes a decision that works for him.

BCHL Bits ….. The Viking Cup tournament MVP was Jeff Tambellini of Chilliwack. The future University of Michigan Wolverine was also a first team all-star. For more on the tournament, click on the headline ‘Selects blow four-goal lead’ to the right.

The 32nd Annual BCHL All-Star game is just around the corner. The banquet goes next Tuesday (Jan. 15), followed by the big game on Wednesday at the Frank Crane Arena in Nanaimo.

The BCHL Player of the Week ending Jan. 6 was Matt Ellison of Cowichan. The Duncan product accounted for 12 points in four games that lifted him to the league scoring lead with 30 goals and 53 assists in 42 games to put him slightly ahead of teammate Max Guimond (33G, 47A).

The BCHL Player of the Week from Dec. 28-30 was Salmon Arm’s Andrew Ebbett. Ebbett piled up 2G and 4A in three games for the SilverBacks.

Powell River King forward Cam Cunning scored the winning goal for Team Pacific during the B.C.-Alberta all-star squad’s semi-final game at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Selkirk and Stonewall, Man.

Unfortunately for Cunning and the rest of Team Pacific, they lost in the final to the Americans (4-3 in OT) for the second year in a row.

Finally, some advice hockey fans, better start growing those fingernails because it will be nail-biting time as the BCHL stretch drive kicks into gear.