BCHL Roundup: League’s top young teens turn heads each year

The BCHL mandates two 17-year-olds per team and the most elite players in that age group occasionally generate NHL Draft buzz.

One of the best things about junior hockey is that at that age, anything’s possible.

That’s especially true for the younger players, and that’s one of the reasons why there are rules setting aside roster spots for 17-year-olds.

“Personally, I like to see young players on rosters. I like to see them develop. Some teams do a better job of it than others,” said John Grisdale, B.C. Hockey League commissioner.

The BCHL mandates two 17-year-olds per team and the most elite players in that age group are the ones who occasionally generate NHL Draft buzz. Last year, the league could boast three first-round picks: Tyson Jost to the Colorado Avalanche, Dante Fabbro to the Nashville Predators and Dennis Cholowski to the Detroit Red Wings.

Grisdale pointed out that all three of those players came into the league as 16-year-olds.

“That shows that the league can develop players when they’re young as well as anybody else…” he said. “It’s really good to have kids that are young playing in our programs. That’s what attracts the NHL scouts, to see how they develop through the year and it creates that interest.”

Two BCHL players – Alec Capstick of the Langley Rivermen and Griffin Mendel of the Penticton Vees – started 2016-17 on NHL Central Scouting’s Futures List. No one from the Island Division, but there are lots of different paths to the pros.

Here in the present, the Victoria Grizzlies continue to lead the division. The Grizz (5-1-2-2) have benefited from all their overtime this season as they picked up more points in a tie and an OT loss this past weekend.

The Powell River Kings are the division’s hottest team after beating the Vernon Vipers and Grizzlies to run their win streak to five.

GAME ON … All the Island’s teams play their next games Friday (Oct. 7), with the Alberni Valley Bulldogs hosting the Kings at 7 p.m. at Weyerhaeuser Arena, the Grizzlies hosting the Cowichan Capitals at 7 p.m. at the Q Centre and the Nanaimo Clippers playing the Trail Smoke Eaters at 7 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena.