Around the BCHL – Trail Smoke Eater grad to captain NCAA Michigan Tech Huskies

Around the BCHL is a regular look at the BCHL and goings-on throughout the junior A world.

Welcome to the September 20 edition of Around the BCHL, a look at the BCHL and goings-on throughout the junior A world.

The Michigan Tech Huskies like giving the captain’s C to former Trail Smoke Eaters.

The NCAA Div-1 team has named ex-Smokie Jake Lucchini a co-captain for this season, after having Brent Baltus lead the team last season.

Lucchini is skating into his fourth season at Michigan Tech.

Former Smoke Eater and Trail native Jake Lucchini (left) will serve as co-captain of the Michigan Tech Huskies this year along with assistant captain Jake Jackson and co-captain Dylan Steman. Michigan Tech photo.

Last year he potted 16 goals and 39 points in 44 games. Lucchini is sharing the captaincy with Minnesota native Dylan Steman, a graduate of the USHL’s Cedar Rapids Roughriders.

“These young men have been a major part of our success in recent years and understand the expectations on the ice, in the community, and in the classroom,” Husky coach Joe Shawhan said. “They lead by example and understand the direction of the coaching staff and support their teammates both on and off the ice.”

Jim Bailey of the Trail Times has written a larger piece on this. Find it here.

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The Coquitlam Express added a couple veterans to the roster this week, including a familiar face.

Defenceman Landon Fuller is back in the fold. The 19 year old played 42 regular season and playoff games for Coquitlam last season, posting one goal and six points.

Fuller is a big kid, standing six-foot-five and weighing 234 pounds. He played previously for the Surrey Eagles (19 games, 2016-17), Salmon Arm Silverbacks (25 games, 2016-17). He also saw 18 games of major junior action with Western Hockey League’s Tri-City Americans, between 2015-16 and 2017-18.

Here he is scoring his first goal with Coquitlam last November.

The Express also added 20 year old forward Hunter Alden.

Alden’s most recent hockey home was New Jersey, with the North American Hockey League’s Junior Titans. He tied for the team lead in scoring last season with 10 goals and 47 points in 60 games, adding 113 penalty minutes.

Alden does have prior BCHL experience with the Wenatchee Wild.

He played one game with Wenatchee last season and 13 during the 2015-16 campaign, posting one goal, three points and six PIMs.

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This next item isn’t direct BCHL news, but it’s interesting anyways.

It’s not every day you see teams swap identities, but that’s what’s happened with two B.C. Major Midget Hockey League squads.

The Valley West Hawks have become the Valley West Giants and the Vancouver Northwest Giants have become the Vancouver Northwest Hawks.

Valley West plays home games at the Langley Events Centre, which is also home to the Western Hockey League’s Vancouver Giants.

So I guess this is about, what’s that corporate buzzword… synergy?

Here’s Black Press reporter Tom Zillich with a deeper dive into the changes.

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Sticking with things that aren’t BCHL specific, it’s always fun when an expansion team gets its first win.

Peace Arch News sports writer Nick Greenizan offers a nice article on the Pacific Junior B Hockey League’s White Rock Whalers and their 7-0 win over the Surrey Knights.

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Back to the BCHL and a little alumni news out of Powell River.

The Kings are one of the best in the league at tracking former players. Two defenceman who patrolled the blueline in ‘The Hap’ have signed with ECHL teams.

Matt Joyaux has inked a deal with the Kalamazoo Wings and now waits for his pro hockey debut.

Joyaux recently wrapped up four year university career split between the Miami (Ohio) University Redhawks (2013-15) and the Ohio State Buckeyes (2016-18), and his signing with the Wings shows how the game is changing.

Fifteen years ago, does a five-foot-seven defender get any looks from a North American based team?

Jon Jutzi, on the other hand, is on to his fourth pro team following four years at Minnesota State University-Mankato (2012-16).

Jutzi has signed with the Greenville Swamp Rabbits (great name!) following previous stints with the ECHL’s Kalamazoo Wings (50 games, 2017-18) and Orlando Solar Bears (45 games, 2016-17) and the American Hockey League’s Manitoba Moose (six games, 2015-16).

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And finally, a nice note out of Vernon as Vipers assistant coach Kevin Pederson gets a National Hockey League scouting gig.

Pederson will continue working with the Vipers, but he’ll also be trying to unearth the next great NHL superstar for the Phoenix Coyotes. According to a Vernon news release, Pederson will be tasked with ‘watching players who have already been drafted by NHL teams and providing insights and scouting reports on those players. The leagues he will be monitoring are the BCHL and other junior A franchises as well as the WHL, OHL and QMJHL.’

“I feel like this is a great opportunity for me to continue gaining experience with a fantastic NHL franchise as well as maintain the culture that we’ve built here in Vernon,” Pedersen said in a Viper news release. “I love watching hockey. This new role now allows me to do that with an increased focus on players that have already been drafted.

“My goal has always been to become a full time scout in the NHL and this is a great first step.”

Pedersen has also been named lead evaluator for B.C. Hockey’s U-16 team.

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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