The Alberni Valley Bulldogs have released former backup goaltender Kiefer Giroux to the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League, to play with Victoria in the Junior B league.
Giroux’s departure leaves the Junior A Bulldogs with three goaltenders on the pared-down, 29-player roster following four days of training camp last week.
“That was a tough decision,” Bulldogs’ head coach Paul Esdale said. “We felt he needed to go somewhere to play more games.”
Giroux will remain an affiliated player with the Bulldogs. Meanwhile, Max Fenkel, Peter Dudek and Sean Lawrence will share netminding duties through the B.C. Hockey League exhibition season.
Fenkel, 20, committed to the Bulldogs earlier this year. Dudek comes to Port Alberni from Nichols Prep School in Buffalo, NY, and Lawrence played last year for the Dallas Stars AAA midget team. While Lawrence wasn’t scouted by Bulldogs’ staff, Esdale was tipped off that he was available and he was invited to camp.
“All three of them are going to get time over the next little while to prove themselves,” Esdale said.
The 29-player roster includes 16 forwards and 10 defencemen. Esdale said there were some surprises at camp, “especially with some of our young recruits. They showed they belong in this league.”
Evan Tironese and Ryan Lough, who come to the team from the Notre Dame Argos, as well as the Kalashnikov brothers impressed, Esdale said.
“Chase Van Allen…looks like he’s going to fit in really well,” he added.
Tuesday was the first day for regular practice, as well as the first day of school for many of the Bulldogs players.
The team will still evolve as they begin their exhibition schedule this weekend. “We’re going to slowly integrate new systems for the year,” he said, adding that the coaching staff is still getting to know many of the players.
Esdale and assistant coach Adam Hayduk will have to cut down their roster to 21 players by Sept. 23. “If we don’t think we have what we need at the end of (exhibition season) we’ll be looking elsewhere,” Esdale said.
Fans will get their first glimpse of the 2011-12 Bulldogs this Saturday, Sept. 10 for the inaugural Fall Fair game. The Bulldogs host the Nanaimo Clippers at 5:30 p.m. at Weyerhaeuser Arena. Tickets are $10 and include admission to the Alberni Valley Fall Fair, with the game ending early enough to take in the midway.
ICE CHIPS…. The ‘Dogs’ regular season kicks off Saturday, Sept. 24 when Coquitlam Express come to town. Puck drop is 7 p.m. at Weyerhaeuser Arena.