Around the BCHL: Victoria Grizzly forward commits to UConn Huskies

Around the BCHL is a look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

Welcome to the October 9, 2018 edition of Around the BCHL, a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

We start this morning with a scholarship announcement as Victoria Grizzly Carter Berger commits to the University of Connecticut.

The 19 year old defenceman is in his third season with the Grizz and has produced (so far) two goals and seven points in 12 games. The six-foot and 175 pound North Vancouver native plans to join the U-Conn Huskies for 2019-20.

Grizzlies defenceman Carter Berger battles an Alberni Valley Bulldogs player during a BCHL game last season. Elena Rardon Photo

UConn is based in Hartford and plays in the Hockey East conference, an 11 team circuit that includes Boston University, Boston College, Maine, Massachusetts, Massachusetts-Lowell, Merrimack, New Hampshire, Northeastern, Providence and Vermont.

The Huskies finished fifth last season with a record of 11-12-1 within the conference and 15-19-2 overall.

This year’s roster includes BCHL grads Jonny Evans (Powell River), Carter Turnbull (Powell River), Miles Gendron (Penticton), John Wojciewchowski (Langley) and Kale Howarth (Trail).

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Chilliwack Chiefs alum Dennis Cholowski picked up his first National Hockey League goal last Thursday.

The Langley native made his debut with the Detroit Red Wings in a home game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Midway through the second period, the 20 year old defenceman jumped into the rush, collecting a pretty pass from Wings center Dylan Larkin in the slot and rifled the puck past Jackets goalie Joonas Korpisalo.

He also picked up a holding penalty.

It’s been an interesting journey from NHL draft pick to NHL player for Cholowski. A first round selection (20th overall) of Detroit in the 2016 draft, Cholowski played 36 games for the St. Cloud State University Huskies during the 2016-17 season before leaving school to turn pro.

Cholowski signed a standard three-year entry level deal with the Red Wings and played one game with the American Hockey League’s Grand Rapids Griffins to close out that campaign.

Believing he needed more seasoning, the Red Wings sent Cholowski to major junior last year. He started the season with the Western Hockey League’s Prince George Cougars, playing 37 games before being traded to the Portland Winterhawks. In 81 regular season and playoff games the 20 year old produced 19 goals and 73 points.

Cholowski finished the year playing one playoff game for the Griffins, came to Detroit training camp this year determined to lock down a spot and made it happen.

Congrats Dennis!

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Sticking with the Chiefs, the team’s RBC Cup championship rings are in and they look pretty good.

A nice touch is each ring having a small engraving of Prospera Centre with Mt. Cheam in the background.

One person who got a ring told me this morning, “They’re nice. Not so gaudy that I can’t wear it around once in a while.”

Here’s assistant coach Brad Rihela showing his off.

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The Wenatchee Wild are finally heading home.

The team started this season with an unprecedented 11 straight road games, but they’re back at the Town Toyota Center Friday night, hosting the Nanaimo Clippers.

Wenatchee finished the road stretch with back to back losses to Prince George (3-2) and Chilliwack (4-1), and went 5-6 overall. The defending BCHL champions are currently seventh and last in the Interior division standings.

There’s some Bizzaro stuff going on in the Interior right now.

Fifth through seventh place are occupied by Penticton (5-4-0-0), Vernon (4-4-2-0) and Wenatchee while the Merritt Centennials (7-5-0-0) hold down top spot.

I’m sure there aren’t many tears being shed for the perennial powerhouses, and you’d expect all three to be back in their customary positions by season’s end, but still, it’s kind of fun to track right now.

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Don’t know whether this is a good or bad sign, but the Nanaimo Clippers have been very, very active on the transaction wire lately.

Since the calendar flipped to October the team has been in the middle of six trades, acquiring three players and moving out five.

In are 2000-born forward Sammy Steele and 1999-born defenceman Devon Mussio from Penticton (both for futures) and 1999-born forward Thomas Samuelsen from the AJHL’s Brooks Bandits (for 1999-born blueliner Andrew Lucas).

In addition to Lucas, the Clippers dispatched 2000-born defenceman Will Spitzer to the AJHL’s Whitecourt Wolverines (for futures) and 1999-born forward Brady Berger to the AJHL’s Drumheller Dragons (for futures). Nanaimo sent 1999-born goalie Kyle Dumba and 1999-born forward Brady Lyn to the Surrey Eagles for futures.

It feels reactionary.

A team accustomed to success is 3-7-0-0 to start the season, fourth in the five-team Island division with a 25-36 goals for/goals against ratio. No one knows what’s truly going on in the Nanaimo locker room, and maybe this flurry of moves cleaned up some issues, but it’s possible, in the short term at least, that things get worse as the holdovers and new guys try to create cohesion.

Nanaimo’s most recent outing was a home-ice win as they topped Trail 4-3 in a shootout Sunday, but the Smoke Eaters out-shot the Clippers 38-27.

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Random highlights you need to see.

Eric Welsh is the sports editor at the Chilliwack Progress and has been covering junior A hockey in B.C. and Alberta since 2003.

Email eric.welsh@theprogress.com

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