Bulldogs defenceman Connor Welsh has been traded to the Trail Smoke Eaters in return for future considerations. ELENA RARDON PHOTO

BCHL: Bulldogs make moves at trade deadline

Alberni team deals Welsh, signs Patton as injured players return to lineup

The Alberni Valley Bulldogs were busy at this year’s trade deadline with a makeover on the team’s back-end.

After trading team captain Ryan Steele for blueliner Spencer Hora, the Bulldogs made another pair of moves before the BCHL’s trade deadline on Wednesday evening, signing 1999-born defenceman Lucas Patton from the VIJHL’s Nanaimo Buccaneers and trading 1997-born defenceman Connor Welsh to the Trail Smoke Eaters in return for future considerations.

READ: Bulldogs deal team captain ahead of trade deadline

Patton hails from Sechelt, BC and dressed in 28 regular season games in his rookie season with the Buccaneers, picking up five assists. The 18-year-old also suited up in a pair of games with the Bulldogs as an affiliate player and has practiced regularly with the club over the past three months.

“Lucas is a strong defensive defenceman who skates well and competes at a high level,” says Bulldogs head coach Matt Hughes. “He’s impressed us as a person and player in his time as an affiliate and we feel he’s ready to step into our lineup on a regular basis. Lucas has a great deal of upside and we’re excited to see him continue his development in a Bulldogs jersey.”

Meanwhile, Welsh joins a Smoke Eaters team that is currently tied for second in the overall BCHL standings. The 20-year-old has been a potent offensive performer from the blueline in his two seasons in the Alberni Valley, with 12 goals and 45 points to show for 97 regular season appearances. Welsh was also made an assistant captain before the start of the 2017-18 season.

“Connor is a great person and a skilled player who has made a big impact on our team both on and off the ice,” says Hughes. “Making the decision to move him today wasn’t easy, but we made a trade that fits with the best interests of our organization moving forward. We’d like to thank Connor for all he did as a Bulldogs player and as a positive ambassador for our team in the community.”

Patton will play his first game as a full-time member of the Bulldogs on Friday night when the team travels south to face the Victoria Grizzlies. Friday’s game will also mark the return of forward Julian Benner and forward Michael Sacco, who had each been out with long-term injuries.

“Getting Julian and Michael back in the lineup is really like making two big additions on top of the other moves we completed at the deadline,” says Hughes. “Both guys have shown they can make a real impact offensively and we’ll look forward to their contributions down the stretch run.”

The Bulldogs announced on Thursday morning that forward Liam Lytton and defenceman Ezra Paddock will miss the remainder of the season due to injury.

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