The BCHL today announced the line-up for the All-Star team that will play the Vernon Vipers. Smokies defenceman Graeme Strukoff will represent Trail at the game. Strukoff is without question one of the most talented and valuable members of the club. If the move is a little surprising it's only because he's missed half of the season so far with a lower body injury. If anything Strukoff's injury shows how valuable a player he is. When you look at the recent close losses to the likes of Penticton, Vernon and Westside you have to wonder that if the inclusion of a guy like Strukoff would be the difference between a win and a loss. I'm looking forward to finding out when he's healthy again.
I do like that this is a guy selected not because of huge numbers, but because of the hard nosed and intelligent way that he plays the game. Graeme is a force on the ice and he'll make the BCHL All-Star squad tougher to play against. It's good that a player can get recognized for contributions other than piling up points. However, I do feel there are some odd choices among the coaches selections. I'm running behind a little right now though so I'll come back to that in a little bit.
For now congratulations to Graeme for being recognized as one of the best this league has to offer.
UPDATE: Obviously with only one team for the entire BCHL there are going to be some very worthy players left off the team. For example, nobody has cored more goals in the last 2 months than Nick Sandor and unfortunately he won't be there in his final season. Scott Jacklin, Sam Mellor and Travis St. Denis have been forces offensively all season. Steve Koshey is among the top 10 scoring defencemen in the league. That's just a few names from Trail that easily could have also made the team along with Strukoff. However, if you look around the league there are some other names that certainly stand out. David Kilip, Brooks Robinson and Cam Reid are all among the top 10 BCHL scorers and they're no where to be seen thanks to the limited roster spots.
Here's the actual line-up:
Trevor Bailey (Westside Warriors), Justin Bardarson (Williams Lake Timberwolves), Colton Beck (Langley Chiefs), Beau Bennett (PentictonVees), Cody Bremner (Nanaimo Clippers), Dylan Herold (Burnaby Express), Trever Hertz (Quesnel Millionaires), Mike Krgovich (Surrey Eagles), Mitch MacMillan (Alberni Valley Bulldogs), Denver Manderson (PentictonVees), Andrew Pettitt (Powell River Kings), Mark Zengerle (Salmon Arm SilverBacks)
Mat Bodie (Powell River Kings), Brendan Ellis (Westside Warriors), Jordan Heywood (Victoria Grizzlies), Wes McLeod (Prince George Spruce Kings), Graeme Strukoff (Trail Smoke Eaters), Shayne Taker (Cowichan Valley Capitals), Steve Tresierra (Merritt Centennials)
LoicBoivin (Nanaimo Clippers), Sean Bonar (PentictonVees), Frank Slubowski (Alberni Valley Bulldogs)
Congrats to Strukoff and former Smoke Eater Dylan Herold for making it. It's well deserved. I actually went through this exercise myself a couple of nights ago just for fun (I didn't have Strukoff on the team as I thought his injury would take him out of the running... but obviously I'm glad it didn't) and here's what I came up with:
TEAM MULLIN FORWARDS
Beau Bennett (PEN), Denver Manderson (PEN), Trevor Bailey (PEN), Nick Sandor (TRA), Mark Zengerle (SA), Trevor Hertz (QUE), Cody Bremner (NAN), Colton Beck (LAN), Mitch MacMillan (AV), Ryan Stanimir (WL), Garrett Jackson (CV), Brad Reid (BUR)
Jordan Heywood (VIC), Greg Noyes (SA), Victor Newell (NAN), Wes McLeod (PG), Kevin Ross (AV), Derek Hills (MER)
TEAM MULLIN GOALTENDERS
Josh Watson (PR), Kevin Jebson (WES), Vinny Lessard (SUR)
The biggest difference between the two teams is that the goaltenders are entirely different. When you look at the top save percentage in the league Watson is ahead of everyone but both Vernon goaltenders, and Jebson is right behind him. Lessard is a couple of points behind Bonnar and Slubowski, but he has been absolutely lights out since having to take over as permanent starter due to the injury to Paul Barclay. I also note that Bonar has split duties with Joel Rumpel and actually has almost identical stats.
Slubowski and Bonar certainly deserving all stars. However, their teams already have a couple of players each on the roster I built. If we had teams for each conference I have no doubts that they would've been on my team. I'm sure they're not worried about it given the fact that they made the actual team anyway!
My list isn't hugely different I just felt like posting it because I only just put it together two days ago. It'd be interesting to put together a "best of the rest" team to see how it stacks up. Again a huge congratulations to all of those who made the team, especially to Graeme Strukoff.
A lot of times I've thought of Strukoff as an "unsung hero" type who doesn't get enough recognition for the way he plays because he doesn't have gaudy numbers. It's good to know the league has take notice of everything the Chilliwack native brings to the table. I know Smokies fans are just looking forward to getting to see that again for ourselves when Graeme is back in the line-up.