BCHL’s smaller roster size makes Jr. B better

Saanich Braves preparing to host Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League All Star Classic on Jan. 15

Sam Johnston is being rewarded for his steady play with the Braves and will represent his team when it hosts the VIJHL All Star Classic on Jan. 15.

The VIJHL All Star Classic is Jan. 15 at Pearkes Arena, prospects at 1 p.m., skills competition at 2:30 p.m. and all-star game at 3:30 p.m.

Ty Jones’ incredible scoring run has not only picked the Saanich Braves up by the collar and dragged them to second place in the South division of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League, it’s resurrected his hockey career.

The captain is considered the league’s MVP heading into the Christmas break. Needless to say, he’ll be representing the Braves when they host the VIJHL All Star Classic on Jan. 15.

It’s quite the turnaround for Jones, who was released by the Cowichan Valley Capitals to start the B.C. Hockey League season.

Once he found his junior B stride, Jones scored 44 points in 15 straight games from Oct. 5 to Dec. 10. Jones, who turns 19 on Dec. 29, is available to sign a permanent card in the BCHL but isn’t moving unless it’s the right fit.

“Jones isn’t just getting calls from BCHL teams every day, but he’s getting calls from NCAA schools too,” said Braves coach Brad Cook.

Last week, scouts from Elmira College in New York, an NCAA Div. III hockey program, attended Braves practice and talked at length with three players.

“Jones is a player we probably wouldn’t get if it isn’t for the shortened BCHL rosters this year (down to 21 players). People are realizing our league is an untapped resource. It’s one of the better junior B leagues in Canada.”

The Braves all-star selections include veteran forward Sam Johnston and 16-year-old rookie sensation Jack Palmer, who’s eighth in league scoring – a benefit from playing with Jones. Rookie defencemen Jaden Schmeisser, who’s playing full time with the Victoria Grizzlies, and veteran Hayden Long have also been named to the all-star team, along with goalie Tanner McGaw.

Much needed break

On Thursday the Braves visited the Victoria Cougars in the final game before the break (results were past press time). It was the Braves first game with a full bench after a string of injuries, suspensions and call-ups limited them to just 13 skaters in a 4-1 loss to Comox Valley Glacier Kings on Dec. 10.

Grizzlies prospect Sam McMullen was out with concussion, while Brandon Parmar (five games), Connor Krupa (four) and Jordan Groenheyde (four) were all out with suspension.

“I’ve had to really stretch my hand out to the different organizations to get kids in their first junior games,” Cook said. “We used midget players from the South Island Thunderbirds and from Saanich, Juan de Fuca and Racquet Club minor clubs.”

The Braves’ call ups were surprising with Thunderbird Liam Carradine recording a hat trick in his first game on Nov. 4, and defenceman Tom Dakers of Racquet Club playing a remarkably composed, stay-at-home game for the Braves in his debut in the Dec. 10 game.

sports@vicnews.com

Tickets to the Jan. 15 all-star game are $15 for adults -and $7 for children. Contact Anne McIntyre at anne@gericconstruction.com.

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