Nine BCHL Players Selected in USHL Entry Draft, Clippers for Sale and Announce Two Recruits, Smokies Add Experience Behind the Bench, Mendel Commits to Vees, PG Veteran Signs in France:

The United States Hockey League held Phase 2 of its annual Entry Draft on Tuesday and when the dust settled after 27 rounds, eight current BCHL players were chosen. In addition, one incoming player was selected. It remains to be seen whether or not these players jump to the USHL for 2015-16, but if they did, their current BCHL team would continue to hold their Canadian Junior ‘A’ rights.

The first BCHL player chosen was 19-year-old Brett Gruber, who went to the Green Bay Gamblers in the first round, 2nd overall. It’s the third straight season he’s been selected in the USHL Entry Draft. Gruber, who’s from Appleton, WI, is committed to Arizona State University for 2016-17, so he’s got one more season of junior hockey to go. According to this article in the Green Bay Press Gazette, it looks like Gruber will join the Gamblers in 2015-16 before heading to college. 

17-year-old forward Kohen Olischefski played for the Yale Hockey Academy U18 Prep team in 2014-15, but has committed to the Chilliwack Chiefs for next season. The Abbotsford, BC, product was selected in the fourth round, 59th overall by the Omaha Lancers. Olischefski will head to the University of Wisconsin in 2017-18.

Among the other BCHL players selected were Merritt forward Brandon Duhaime (7th round, 115th overall to Chicago), Cowichan forward Sean Harrison (8th round, 116th overall to Bloomington), Cowichan forward Darien Craighead (8th round, 120th overall to Dubuque), Alberni Valley forward Scott Clark (8th round, 128th overall to Cedar Rapids), Chilliwack forward Jordan Kawaguchi (10th round, 153rd overall to Waterloo), Prince George defenseman Matt Stief (12th round, 185th overall to Waterloo), and Merritt defenseman Matt Foley (12th round, 187th overall to Bloomington).

In the USHL Futures Draft on Monday, Langley Rivermen commit Alec Capstick was selected in the 7th round, 102nd overall by Waterloo. The 16-year-old is set to join Langley in 2015-16 after committing to the Rivermen earlier this year. He’s also committed to Notre Dame University for the 2018-19 season.

The Nanaimo Clippers are officially on the block. The Clippers majority ownership group has made it be known that they are looking for local ownership to take over the team. The current group, which includes former NHL goaltender Kelly Hrudey and Dave Moir, father of former Merritt Centennials defenseman Ryan Moir, has owned the Clippers for ten years. Spencer Anderson of the Nanaimo Daily News has more here as does Greg Sakaki from the Nanaimo News Bulletin here.

The Trail Smoke Eaters rounded out their coaching staff with Ryan Donald. The Smokies have hired Donald from the Maritime Hockey League, where he was Head Coach and Assistant GM with the Woodstock Slammers. The 28-year-old was promoted to Head Coach of the Slammers when Justin Bowers resigned due to personal reasons back in February. He has been on Woodstock’s coaching staff since the start of the 2013-14 season. Donald will hold the title of Assistant Coach with Trail, working along side existing staff Nick Deschenes, Barry Zanier and Craig Clare.

The Clippers announced the commitment of two players for the 2015-16 season on Tuesday. Coming to Nanaimo are 18-year-old forwards Christopher Smith and DJ Petruzzelli. Smith is from St. Bruno de Montarville, PQ and Petruzzelli hails from Wilbraham, MA. In 58 games this past season with Stanstead College, Smith tallied 83 points (52 goals, 31 assists). Petruzzelli spent 2014-15 playing US High School prep hockey with Springfield Cathedral, where he had 67 points (21 goals, 46 assists) in 25 games. He’s committed to Quinnipiac University for 2016-17.

16-year-old defenseman Griffin Mendel has committed to Penticton for 2015-16. The Kelowna, BC, product played last season with the Okanagan Hockey Academy White Prep team, posting 14 points (four goals, 10 assists) in 18 games. He also got into two games with the Vees, notching two penalty minutes and no points. Mendel was a 1st round pick, 11th overall of the Kootenay Ice in the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft.

Prince George forward Michael Buonincontri has signed a contract for 2015-16 with Dunkerque of the First Division in France’s 2nd League. The 21-year-old had 49 points (20 goals, 29 assists) in 53 games in 2014-15 split between the Spruce Kings and the West Kelowna Warriors. The Montreal, PQ, native spent the majority of his junior career in the Central Canada Hockey League, but he also played 17 games in the USHL in 2013-14.

Forward Jamie Benn (Victoria, 2006-07) and goaltender Carey Price (Quesnel, 2002-03) are two of the three nominees for the 2015 Ted Lindsay award, which is presented to the Most Outstanding Player in the NHL, as voted by fellow members of the NHLPA. The third nominee is forward Alexander Ovechkin.

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