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2019-20 CHL Season Preview Series: WHL’s B.C. Division

 

Day 1 of a 12-day coast-to-coast series previewing the 2019-20 Canadian Hockey League season features the Western Hockey League’s B.C. Division:

Kamloops Blazers

Last 5 Years

2014-15: 28-37-4-3, 63 Points (4th in B.C. Division)
2015-16: 38-25-5-4, 85 Points (3rd in B.C. Division) ▲
2016-17: 42-24-2-4, 90 Points (3rd in B.C. Division) ▲
2017-18: 30-37-1-4, 65 Points (4th in B.C. Division) ▼
2018-19: 28-32-6-2, 64 Points (3rd in B.C. Division) ▼

Best Playoff Result: 2016 – Lost 4-3 vs. Kelowna in Round 1

Need to Know

Head Coach: Shaun Clouston, 1st Season
2018 Bantam Draft (Top Pick): 1/5 (C) Logan Stankoven (Yale H.A. Bntm Prep)
2019 CHL Import Draft (Top Pick): 1/16 (D) Inaki Baragano (Lausanne Jr.)
2018-19 Notable Graduates: (RW) Jeff Faith, (G) Dylan Ferguson (Vegas), (LW) Jermaine Loewen
NHL Prospects: (D) Quinn Schmiemann (Tampa Bay, 6/182, 2019)

Players to Watch

Returning Leader: (RW) Zane Franklin
On the Horizon: (C) Connor Zary

After qualifying for the playoffs last year via the tiebreaker play-in, the Blazers will look to take the next step this season, led by 2020 NHL Draft eligible forward Connor Zary, a dynamic offensive talent who impressed with 67 points in his sophomore season. Also returning to Kamloops is the club’s leading scorer from 2018-19, veteran right-wing Zane Franklin, who was the only player to eclipse Zary’s production after notching 68 points in as many games.

Kelowna Rockets

Last 5 Years

2014-15: 53-13-5-1, 112 Points (1st in B.C. Division)
2015-16: 48-20-4-0, 100 Points (2nd in B.C. Division) ▼
2016-17: 45-22-5-0, 95 Points (2nd in B.C. Division) ▼
2017-18: 43-22-5-2, 93 Points (1st in B.C. Division) ▼
2018-19: 28-32-6-2, 64 Points (4th in B.C. Division) ▼

Best Playoff Result: 2015 – Won 4-0 vs. Brandon in Ed Chynoweth Cup Final

Need to Know

Head Coach: Adam Foote, 2nd Season
2018 Bantam Draft (Top Pick): 1/18 (C) Trevor Wong (St. George’s School Bntm Varsity 1)
2019 CHL Import Draft (Top Pick): 1/13 (RW) Pavel Novak (Ceske Budejovice Jr.)
2018-19 Notable Graduates: (D) Matt Barberis, (RW) Ryan Bowen, (D) Schael Higson, (D) Dalton Gally
NHL Prospects: (LW) Nolan Foote (Tampa Bay, 1/27, 2019), (LW) Dillon Hamaliuk (San Jose, 2/55, 2019), (D) Kaedan Korczak (Vegas, 2/41, 2019)

Players to Watch

Returning Leader: (LW) Nolan Foote
On the Horizon: (C) Trevor Wong

Following his first-round selection in the 2019 NHL Draft, budding forward Nolan Foote (son of head coach Adam Foote) will look to raise his offensive game to the next level this season, while also helping the Rockets return to the postseason following a one-year absence. Joining Foote up front is 16-year-old forward Trevor Wong, the team’s top pick from the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft who received a four-game trial last year ahead of making his full-time debut in 2019-20.

Prince George Cougars

Last 5 Years

2014-15: 31-36-2-3, 67 Points (3rd in B.C. Division)
2015-16: 36-31-3-2, 77 Points (4th in B.C. Division) ▲
2016-17: 45-21-3-3, 96 Points (1st in B.C. Division) ▲
2017-18: 24-38-5-5, 58 Points (5th in B.C. Division) ▼
2018-19: 19-41-5-3, 46 Points (5th in B.C. Division) ▼

Best Playoff Result: 2017 – Lost 4-2 vs. Portland in Round 1

Need to Know

Head Coach: Mark Lamb, 2nd Season
2018 Bantam Draft (Top Pick): 1/9 (C) Craig Armstrong (Airdrie Xtreme BAAA)
2019 CHL Import Draft (Top Pick): 1/10 (RW) Filip Koffer (Pardubice Jr.)
2018-19 Notable Graduates: (RW) Josh Curtis, (D) Joel Lakusta, (RW) Mike MacLean
NHL Prospects: (D) Cole Moberg (Chicago, 7/194, 2019)

Players to Watch

Returning Leader: (G) Taylor Gauthier
On the Horizon: (D) Rhett Rhinehart

The Cougars look to be a solid defensive squad with a strong veteran presence between the pipes in Taylor Gauthier, a participant in last year’s Top Prospects Showcase. After joining the team in 2017-18, Gauthier assumed the starter’s role last season, seeing a busy workload of 55 appearances. This season, Gauthier is sure to receive strong defensive support from an intriguing blue line that includes 2020 NHL Draft eligible rearguard Rhett Rhinehart, who saw a major uptick in production last season as he tallied a career-high 24 points.

Vancouver Giants

Last 5 Years

2014-15: 27-41-2-2, 58 Points (5th in B.C. Division)
2015-16: 23-40-5-4, 55 Points (5th in B.C. Division) ▼
2016-17: 20-46-3-3, 46 Points (5th in B.C. Division) ▼
2017-18: 36-27-6-3, 81 Points (3rd in B.C. Division) ▲
2018-19: 48-15-3-2, 101 Points (1st in B.C. Division) ▲

Best Playoff Result: 2019 – Lost 4-3 vs. Prince Albert in Ed Chynoweth Cup Final

Need to Know

Head Coach: Michael Dyck, 2nd Season
2018 Bantam Draft (Top Pick): 1/12 (C) Zack Ostapchuk (Northern Alberta Xtreme Bntm Prep)
2019 CHL Import Draft (Top Pick): 1/59 (D) Samuel Knazko (TPS Turku Jr.)
2018-19 Notable Graduates: (RW) Jared Dmytriw, (D) Dallas Hines, (RW) Davis Koch
NHL Prospects: (D) Bowen Byram (Colorado, 1/4, 2019), (D) Alex Kannok-Leipert (Washington, 6/161, 2018), (G) Trent Miner (Colorado, 7/202, 2019), (C) Milos Roman (Calgary, 4/122, 2018), (G) David Tendeck (Arizona, 6/158, 2018)

Players to Watch

Returning Leader: (D) Bowen Byram
On the Horizon: (C) Justin Sourdif

The Giants nearly made it all the way to the finish line last season, falling in overtime of Game 7 in the Ed Chynoweth Cup Final. Guiding the club through its 22-game postseason run was budding blue-liner Bowen Byram, who put together a dominant performance as he finished first in playoff scoring with 26 points. Weeks later, Byram was selected fourth overall by the Colorado Avalanche, though the Giants remain hopeful that he will return for the 2019-20 campaign. 2020 NHL Draft prospect Justin Sourdif is earmarked for early selection after recording 46 points including 23 goals in 64 games as a freshman which led all 16-year-old WHL skaters.

Victoria Royals

Last 5 Years

2014-15: 39-29-3-1, 82 Points (2nd in B.C. Division)
2015-16: 50-16-3-3, 106 Points (1st in B.C. Division) ▲
2016-17: 37-29-5-1, 80 Points (4th in B.C. Division) ▼
2017-18: 39-27-4-2, 84 Points (2nd in B.C. Division) ▲
2018-19: 34-30-2-2, 72 Points (2nd in B.C. Division) ▼

Best Playoff Result: 2016 – Lost 4-3 vs. Kelowna in Round 2

Need to Know

Head Coach: Dan Price, 3rd Season
2018 Bantam Draft (Top Pick): 1/13 (D) Nolan Bentham (Yale H.A. Bntm Prep)
2019 CHL Import Draft (Top Pick): 1/28 (C) Keanu Derungs (Kloten EHC Sports AG Jr.)
2018-19 Notable Graduates: (D) Ralph Jarratt, (C) Kody McDonald, (G) Griffen Outhouse
NHL Prospects: N/A

Players to Watch

Returning Leader: (C) Kaid Oliver
On the Horizon: (C) Tarun Fizer

After leading the Royals with 49 points last season, veteran forward Kaid Oliver will once again be looked toward to carry the offensive torch in Victoria, with the hope that he can take another step in his scoring after seeing a 24-point improvement in 2018-19. Meanwhile, also up front is 17-year-old centre Tarun Fizer, who impressed last season after appearing in all 68 contests and finishing with 0.5 point-per-game production.

Last 5 Years: WHL’s B.C. Division

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