Monday, April 12, 2010

News, Notes and Audio (Bloodoff, Ingram, Macleod, Ohlhausen)

It's Game 7 of the BCHL finals tonight. You've got to give both teams credit for what has been a heck of a war between Powell River and Vernon. I know I'll be watching on PPV. Good luck to both teams! EDIT: Congratulations to the Vipers on their second straight Fred Page Cup. It was quite a war and both deserve a ton of credit.

Congrats are in order for former Smoke Eater and Castlegar native Lucas Bloodoff. First of all he's to be congratulated on what was a terrific junior career. That came to an end this weekened when Bloodoff's Rockets fell 4-3 in overtime against Tri-Cities and lost their second round WHL playoff series in 5 games. However, the Rockets Captain has a lot of highlights to look back on in a junior career that took him from Beaver Valley in the KIJHL to Trail in the BCHL and Kelowna in the WHL. The biggest highlight would have to be when he combined with his brother Evan and Trail native Kyle St. Denis as part of Kelowna's WHL championship club last year. Bloodoff should also be commended for how he stepped up his game in a big way this playoff for Kelowna. The 6'2, 207lbs winger delivered 5 goals and 9 points in 12 post season games.

Thanks to Lucas' hard nosed play and leadership he has earned a professional try out contract with Manitoba of the AHL. It was first reported by Regan Bartel and then picked up by Kelowna's official site and Manitoba's. I don't know how much Lucas will play during Manitoba's playoff run. Either way it's a great opportunity for him to show off his work ethic and his battle level against professional quality players. Bloodoff is a guy who I think can make an impression in the pros thanks to sheer will. Good luck to him.

This also means that the local connection to the Kelowna Rockets could be dwindling. Kyle St. Denis' future is apparently up in the air right now due to concussions (I certainly hope we can see Travis' talented brother suit up again) and Lucas is moving on. Evan Bloodoff could be the only West Kootenay product left with Kelowna. Of course they also have Ryan Renz of the Alberni Valley Bulldogs listed. The 16 year old Castlegar native already players like a man out there and wouldn't be out of place in the WHL if he chose to go that way.


The Smoke Eaters got an extra look at young prospects this year. Instead of holding a single camp in Princeton this year they held one in Trail and one in conjunction with the KIJHL's Ghostriders in Fernie. I had the chance to catch up with Coach Ingram after both camps. I also had a chat about that and other matters with Trail Times Sports Editor Guy Bertrand. I think we'll see a lot of interesting players making a run at the roster in main camp. It also sounds like there is a ton of 15, 16 and 17 year old talent in the Kootenays.

Smokies Coach Jim Ingram on their spring camp

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Smokies Coach Jim Ingram on the co-sponsored camp in Fernie

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Trail Times Sports Editor Guy Bertrand

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As you can see Coach Ingram wasn't naming too many names at this point. He's keeping his cards close to his chest... no pun intended. I expect there are a few players who really made a great case for themselves to get a long look at training camp. I look forward to seeing a very high level of competition between the young guns and the returning vets in August.


Last week NHL Central Scouting came out with their final rankings for this year's draft. One of the players on that list was Nelson native Isaac Macleod who played this season with the Penticton Vees. Macleod is a classy and talented young man who should get a long look come draft time.

Penticton Vees defenceman Isaac Macleod on his draft ranking

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When I chatted with him on Overtime he told me he was not yet decided on his plans for next year. However, an article on the KIJHL website indicates that the former Nelson Leaf is ready to head off to the NCAA Champion Boston College club. If that is what he decided that's a break for ever other BCHL club as Isaac would've been a force next year.


As reported by Mark Hunter yesterday, the KIJHL has approved a relocation application from the Chase Chiefs. Their ownership wants to take that club to Kelowna where they'd play in the Rutland Arena. I had talked to at least a hand full of teams who indicated to me they wouldn't be supporting the move so it surprised me that the vote ended up 10-3. That's just a hair above the 75% vote needed for a franchise to move. Interesting to note that 3 teams abstained from voting including apparently Barry Dewar of the Kamloops Storm. I can't understand a team deciding not to have a say in the future of their league like that. I'm also not sure this is the best thing for the KIJHL.

How popular will a KIJHL team be in Kelowna where the Rockets are king and the Warriors also have their own large fan base? Is there much more demand for junior hockey? Instead it seems like the move is about corporate opportunities and a recruitment edge. In my chat with Ohlhausen he suggests players won't necessarily want to stay in Kelowna. I disagree. With the Warriors and Rockets both in town I can't imagine too many home town players will be in much of a rush to head out to one of the small town KIJHL clubs if they get a chance with this new Rutland team. I also don't think the Warriors or Rockets would want their prospects to go too far from home if there was a team right in town where they could keep an eye on them and bring them in for practice. Instead we are about to see a new powerhouse in this league if they get themselves even a decent coach. How many of the 16 Kelowna players that skated for Nelson, Castlegar, Beaver Valley and Grand Forks would've stayed home if this team were in the league this season?

I hope this isn't another step towards a have and have not situation in the KI with bigger market teams having the ability to out spend and out recruit small markets. Ohlhausen certainly didn't seem to share my pessimistic view on the move.

HL President Bill Ohlhausen on Chase moving to Kelowna

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It's not that I think the franchise will be a failure. I just question taking a team out of a community like Chase that passionately supported it from all accounts and moving it to a big city that already has the luxury of a couple of great junior teams. If the crowds they had in Chase (which were very solid from what I heard) were not getting it done maybe they had to change their budget? Maybe the team should have been put in the hands of a non-profit society. It just doesn't smell right to me.

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