It was a busy week around the AJHL with several trades, signings, and a league award handed out. On Monday, the League also announced some new rules and their plan for the 2020-21 season.
Before you catch up on the news, check out our full up to date rosters for the upcoming season here. If you notice any mistakes or see any players that need to be added, please contact us.
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Monday, June 22
AJHL Releases Update
Following the 2020 AJHL Annual General Meeting over the weekend, the League released some more information on the 2021 season.
It was stated that the League is in full preparation for the season to begin in September should Provincial health regulations allow. They’ll be releasing a tentative schedule in early July which will also have plans in place if the season is delayed.
Other news coming out regarding the schedule was the movement of the 2021 AJHL Showcase in Camrose. The showcase is traditionally held on the final weekend of September; however, it was decided that it would be rescheduled for sometime in the second half of the season.
There was also a few rule and staff changes that can be found at the bottom of the release. Read all of that here.
Ken Bracko Award Winner Announced
The AJHL handed out the Ken Bracko Award for AJHL Executive of Year for the first time over the weekend.
The League described the winner of the award as an individual who demonstrates outstanding commitment, guidance and support to their franchise and the League in the namesake of long-time Calgary Canucks Governor Ken Bracko.
The winner of the award was Sherwood Park Crusaders President Kevin Love. Also nominated for the 2020 Ken Bracko Award was Lloydminster Bobcats Governor Shane Tomayer, Brooks Bandits President Paul Seaton and Calgary Canucks President Arthur Yasinski.
We’ve been working with Kevin and the Crusaders for five years now, and they allowed us to develop as journalists. We’d like to congratulate Kevin on his award.
Bandits Name Makin As Assistant Coach
After Scott Cunningham departed the team last week, the Brooks Bandits went out today and brought back Taylor Makin to the organization and named his their new Assistant Coach.
Makin was a member of the 2012-13 Brooks Bandits which was the year they won their first RBC Cup. He played in 50 games that year scoring 18 goals and 50 points.
Last season, Makin was an Assistant Coach of the Grande Prairie Storm after being hired midway through the season.
Holloway & Savoie Ranked By McKenzie
Bob McKenzie released his final 2020 NHL Draft rankings early Monday morning.
There were a couple of names on that list that might’ve jumped off the page to AJHL fans.
The first one came at 16th, where Dylan Holloway was ranked. Holloway played in the NCAA for the University of Wisconsin last season but was a member of the Okotoks Oilers for two years before that. In his final season in Okotoks, he was named the AJHL Most Valuable Player after scoring 40 goals and 88 points in 53 games.
The other AJHLer on the list was Carter Savoie at 84. Savoie had a tremendous season with the Crusaders helping lead them to franchise-record 49-9-0 season. He also hit a significant milestone by hitting the 50 goal mark – finishing with 53 – and finished one point shy of 100. At the end of the season, Savoie was named to the Viterra North All-League team.
Other players with a chance of hearing their name called in Montreal are Michael Benning (Sherwood Park Crusaders), Ethan Edwards (Spruce Grove Saints), and Alex Young (Canmore Eagles).
Tuesday, June 23
Storm Acquire Veteran Goaltender
New General Manager and Head Coach, Mike Vandekamp used his experience from working in the BCHL the past couple of seasons to acquire goaltender Carl Stankowski from the Penticton Vees.
Stankowski played in 18 games for the Vees posting a 0.915 SV% along with a 2.08 GAA. Before his time in Penticton, he spent three seasons in the WHL splitting time between the Calgary Hitmen and Seattle Thunderbirds.
In his rookie season, Stankowski became the Thunderbirds number one goaltender due to injuries. He helped guide them to a WHL championship and also played three games in the Memorial Cup.
In exchange for Stankowski, Grande Prairie sent goaltender Kaeden Lane to the Vees.
Lane played two seasons with the Storm and was outstanding in their first-round series against the Spruce Grove Saints this past postseason.
Now with Stankowski in Grande Prairie, it’ll be him and Lars Kailel battling for the crease next season.
Eagles Defenceman Commits To Trine University
The Canmore Eagles announced that 20-year defenceman Jared Bowman had committed to Trine University for the 2020-21 season.
Bowman played in 218 AJHL regular-season games, as well as 22 playoff games, split between the Olds Grizzlys and Canmore Eagles.
Trine University is an NCAA Division III program that finished with a 13-12-3 record last season. They’re also located in Angola, Indiana.
Bowman is now the second Eagle from the 2019-20 roster to commit to a post-secondary.
Wolverines Sign GOJHL Defenceman
Whitecourt announced yet another signing yesterday taking their tally to 11. Joining the Wolverines was 2002 born Defenseman Caleb MacDonald from the St. Marys Lincolns of the GOJHL.
MacDonald is a 6’3 and 201 lbs defenceman from Cambridge, Ontario. Last season with the Lincolns, he scored three goals and 11 points in 47 games.
Thunder Add Alberta Product
Drayton Valley went young with their latest signing by going out and getting St Albert product Liam Cochrane.
Cochrane is a 2004 forward that played for the St Albert Flyers last season. He played close to a point per game level with 19 goals and 32 points in 33 games.
He also got called up to play for the Thunder twice last season. Once against the Sherwood Park Crusaders and the other versus the Lloydminster Bobcats where he picked up two assists.
Wednesday, June 24
Rick Swan Signs New Deal
The Bonnyville Pontiacs opted to give their winningest Head Coach in team history – Rick Swan – a contract extension
Swan has been with the Pontiacs since the 2012-13 season when he was hired as an Assistant General Manager and Coach. The following season he was promoted to the General Manager and Head Coach.
Since taking on those roles, he’s coached Bonnyville to five winning seasons with two of them being 40 wins seasons.
During his time in Bonnyville, Swan has also coach Team Canada West a gold and bronze medal at the World Junior A Challenge and also coached Team AJHL in Sochi last summer.
In 2016, he was named the AJHL Coach of the Year for the first time in his career. That year, the Pontiacs finished fourth in the North Division with a 40-11-9 record.
Storm Stay Busy In Trade Market
A day after announcing the addition of Carl Stankowski, Grande Prairie went out and strengthened their blueline by acquiring Cameron Vassos from the Collingwood Colts (OJHL).
Vassos is a 5’10, 172 lbs 2002-born defenceman from Mississauga.
Last season, Vassos played his first year of junior hockey for the Colts and dressed in 41 regular-season games and also seven playoff games. He scored four goals and ten points in his rookie campaign.
In 2018, Vassos was drafted in the 12th round by the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL.
Thursday, June 25
Lloydminster Trade Veteran Goaltender
After being the Bobcats star last season, Josh Dias was traded the Merritt Centennials in exchange for forward Chase Nameth.
Dias was acquired by the Bobcats early in the season from the Fort McMurray Oil Barons. He posted a 3.79 GAA and 0.900SV% in 40 regular-season games. Of course, his numbers don’t jump off the page, but when Dias was on his game, he could be unstoppable.
It did seem likely that the Bobcats would eventually move on from Dias or Garrett Larsen after signing Axel Rosenlund and acquired Kolby Thornton from the Chilliwack Chiefs.
On the flip side, coming in from Merritt is Nameth, who is a 2000-born forward from Regina. He played two seasons in the BCHL split between the Chilliwack Chiefs and Merritt Centennials. In 98 career games, Nameth scored nine goals and 25 points.
Another layer to this trade the number of 20’s the Bobcats now have. The maximum you can have on a regular-season roster is six; however, Lloydminster currently has seven – Cole Jungwirth, Gunner Kinniburgh, Tanner Mack, Brendan Morrow, Tyler Schendel, Ty Mosiman and now Chase Nameth.
Perhaps another move is happening soon?
Shoemaker Commits To Seahawks
Late in the evening yesterday, it was announced that Joel Shoemaker of the Olds Grizzlys had committed to the Salve Regina University Seahawks for the 2020-21 season.
Salve Regina University is an NCAA Division III that finished with a 14-11-1 record last season.
Shoemaker played two seasons with the Grizzlys and was heading into his final year of junior hockey. The Crossfield native played 81 regular-season games in a Grizzlys uniform scoring six goals and 24 points.
His old teammate, Duncan Hughes also committed to the Seahawks earlier this offseason.
Inside The Cru With Tyler Yaremchuk
Yesterday, Tyler Yaremchuk had a chat with new Sherwood Park Crusaders forward Liam Hughes on Inside The Cru.
Tyler also spoke about the latest news from the AJHL about the 2021 season, and the Ken Bracko Award.
Click here to listen to the full interview.
Friday, June 26
Saints Nake A Deal With Thunder
The Spruce Grove Saints acquired Jake Aston from the Drayton Valley Thunder in exchange for a player development fee.
Aston is entering his third and final season of junior hockey after spending the previous two in Drayton Valley.
The Edmonton native has 105 regular-season games of experience and another eight games in the playoffs. He has 15 career goals and 29 points.
He is Saints press release he was described as the team’s new Brent Trentham, their captain from last season.
Bobcats Strengthen Blueline
The Lloydminster Bobcats stayed busy heading into the weekend.
Nigel Dube went out and strengthened his blueline by bringing in Dalton Irvine from the Revelstoke Grizzlys of the KIJHL.
Irvine is a 2002 born defenceman and an Alberta product from Marwayne. He spent the past two seasons with the Grizzlys playing in 81 regular season games scoring 14 goals and 65 points. In his rookie season, the Grizzlys went on to win the KIJHL Championship.
Irvine also had a brief stint with the Vernon Vipers (BCHL) dressing in four games last season.