Evan Tironese will return to the Alberni Valley Bulldogs to play out his final year of junior hockey.

BCHL: Tironese returns to Alberni Valley Bulldogs for 2014-15

Forward Evan Tironese will play out his junior career with the Bulldogs before heading to college.

Evan Tironese is coming back to the Alberni Valley Bulldogs.

And the coaching staff couldn’t be happier.

“He’ll certainly be one of the top players in the league,” Bulldogs head coach Kevin Willison said. “He’s an exciting player to watch, very creative…he’ll bring the tempo of the game up for us.”

“Any coaching staff would be excited to have a player of that skill level on their roster,” assistant coach Adam Hayduk said. “He’ll be one of the best players in the league this year.”

The firecracker forward lit up the scoreboard when he first joined the B.C. Hockey League team’s roster as a 16-year-old, putting up the most points (42) of any 16-year-old since Kyle Turris, who is currently playing with the Ottawa Senators of the National Hockey League. His sophomore year he picked up 58 points and another 13 in 14 playoff games.

Tironese headed to the Green Bay Gamblers in the U.S. Hockey League for the 2013-14 season, where he scored 10 goals and 28 assists and doubled his penalty minutes to 125.

Now, he’d like to play out his final year of junior hockey with the Bulldogs.

“I’m really looking forward to coming back to Port Alberni,” Tironese said in a statement provided by the team. “I missed it too much and I’m really excited to finish my junior career for the Bulldogs.”

Tironese has committed to play with the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) Engineers. He approached head coach Seth Appert for permission to defer his commitment and play one final year in the BCHL.

While the Bulldogs are excited to see Tironese return to their lineup, they are having to say goodbye to goaltender Connor LaCouvee, who has committed to play with the Boston University Terriers next season.

“I can’t thank the Bulldogs’ organization enough for giving me the opportunity to prove myself in the BCHL,” LaCouvee said in a provided statement.

“They gave me a chance when no one else would.”

LaCouvee joins fellow BCHL alum Sean Maguire, a Powell River Kings’ grad, between the pipes, Rick Sacks noted on his Terrier Hockey Fan Blog.

The Bulldogs have not named a replacement for LaCouvee yet. The netminder was a crucial part of the Bulldogs’ defence last year, coming up with big saves on a regular basis.

Willison is not expecting to find a goaltender of his calibre for the 2014-15 season, but “we’ll put a quality goaltender in his place,” he said.

ICE CHIPS…Former Bulldogs’ team captain Tryg Strand, who aged out of the BCHL this year, has committed to the University of Guelph Gryphons in the CIS. Strand joins former Bulldogs forward Teal Burns at the University of Guelph, where Burns just completed his rookie season.

editor@albernivalleynews.com

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