Looks like this could be the year of the net detective in the B.C. Hockey League.
Andy Moog, Olaf Kolzig, Mark Fitzpatrick, Byron Dafoe and Wade Flaherty head the list of BCHL graduates who went on to enjoy long NHL careers in goal.
There have been just a few goalies like former Vernon Vipers Wade Dubielwicz and Matt Zaba, along with David LeNeveu of the Nanaimo Clippers, that enjoyed a cup of mocha in the show over the past two decades.
And Aldergrove’s Brad Thiessen, who rode the bus with Prince George, Merritt and Penticton before going to Northeastern on a schollie, did hold the Stanley Cup a few years ago as the Penguins’ practice goalie.
Some teams have made goaltending a major priority this season with the Vipers locking up Austin Smith from the WHL Swift Current Broncos and Joe Young of the Boston Midget Major Advantage.
Smith picked up three wins as a back-up with the below .500 Swift Current Broncos last year. He got in 31 games in two seasons so carries some decent experience.
Young, who just signed a NCAA scholarship with the Union Dutchmen for 2014, is described by U.S. Hockey Report as “having a good frame, tools, and the upside that goes with it.”
He was ranked 31st after a mid-term rating of 24th, in the NHL Scouting Bureau’s final list of North American goalies last spring. He went undrafted.
By the time Young arrives at Union in two years, Colin Stevens and Dillon Pieri, who also played for Boston Advantage Midget Major, will be seniors.
Young was ranked just below Sean Maguire of the Powell River Kings, who despite being pegged at No. 28, was the 12th goaltender taken in the draft, 113th overall, by Pittsburgh. Maguire is now with the Boston University Terriers.
The West Kelowna Warriors appear to have a good one in 20-year-old Tyler Briggs (Clarkson Golden Knights). The Sherwood Park product recorded 20 wins with the Lloydminster Bobcats of the AJHL last year, and allowed just one goal in two Showcase wins last weekend. Briggs also helped Team West to a gold medal in the World Junior A Hockey Challenge.
Cole Huggins, a 20-year-old from Colorado, posted back-to-back shutouts with the Coquitlam Express last weekend. How low can he go?
In Nanaimo, the Clippers pulled a major trade to scoop up Jayson Argue, an 18-year-old from Swan River. He racked up 23 wins and a 2.61 GAA with the Manitoba League’s Swan Valley Stampeders a year ago.
The defending Royal Bank Cup champion Penticton Vees are solid with returnee Chad Katunar coming off a 13-win season and stellar playoff run in place of injured Michael Garteig.
Veteran Mitch Gillam (Cornell Big Red) will steal a few games for the Chilliwack Chiefs, while 20-year-old Kirk Thompson of the Prince George Spruce Kings and Vernon’s Tyler Steel of the Merritt Centennials should do the same.
Mike Stiliadis reportedly couldn’t be happier than to be with the Victoria Grizzlies.
Picked up from the Oakville Blades of the Ontario Junior A Hockey League in exchange for defenceman Stefan Gonzales, Stiliadis has settled in with grandparents Bill and Blanche Jeffers.
Stiliadis was 14-5-1 record in Oakville last season with three shootout losses and four shutouts. He previously played with the Georgetown Raiders of the same league and went a spectacular 11-0-0-1 with a 2.80 GAA.
In Port Alberni, the Bulldogs are goalie heavy. They just picked up Adam Todd after he was released by the Saskatoon Blades of the Western Hockey League last week.
Jay Deo, 20, joined the Dawgs from the Calgary Mustangs of the AJHL and Brad Rebagliati, 17, came to the Bulldogs via Cranbrook.
NOTES AND QUOTES: Enderby’s Scott Robinson is much closer to home after a two-year stint with the now-defunct Dawson Creek Rage of the NAHL. “We found out (the team was folding) on our last road trip. It’s a real shame because the fans were really loving the team. Things were trending upwards. There are so many good things up there. They’re gonna miss them this winter. The fans were spectators the first year, but they became the town’s team last year.” Robinson replaced Troy Mick as the Salmon Arm SilverBacks’ head coach the other day…Vernon F Harlan Orr, who had a stellar year with the Major Midget Okanagan Rockets last year, has stuck with the Surrey Eagles. D Jordan Burns, who also shined with the Rockets last season, is with Powell River…F Devon Hascarl is back with the Warriors, while F Alex Jewell, who played a few playoff tilts last spring, is with the Vees…The Eagles have passed the captaincy from one brother to another. Brandon Morley, 18, will serve as captain, taking the ‘C’ from his older brother, Tyler, who captained the Eagles for two years and this season will play with the NCAA’s University of Alaska-Fairbanks Nanooks…Clipper grad Brad Knight, once an assistant coach with the Shipmen, is head coach of the new Junior B franchise in Nanaimo, the Buccaneers…The Whitecourt Wolverines are the newest team in the AJHL. Formerly the St. Albert Steel and Fort Saskatchewan Traders, the Wolverines have been averaging 700 fans a game while dominating Junior B in the booming Northern Alberta town the past few years.