Starting tomorrow, the 2nd annual Great Northwest Showcase kicks-off in Burnaby, featuring two Canadian University and two NCAA hockey programs. This year, Simon Fraser University, UBC, North Dakota and Princeton will take part in the two-day showcase. Five Vees alumni are featured on two teams, four of which are on North Dakota (Troy Stecher, Wade Murphy, Mark MacMillan and Brendan O’Donnell); Sean Bonar is the Princeton representative.
BCHL “hockey insider” Brian Wiebe will be covering the tournament on his blog and through his Twitter account. Brian and Brady Trettenero (@bradytrett) will also be broadcasting the showcase on Fasthockey. The two teamed up to write a great preview on the showcase and on each of the four teams, which Brian graciously let me post below.
I’ll be tracking down a few of the Vees alumni for interviews this weekend; stay tuned.
Brian’s Banter: 2014 Great Northwest Showcase Preview:
In addition, myself and Brady Trettenero will have the call of all four games available on Fast Hockey pay-per-view at FastHockey.com.
Streak: Won 2
Last ten games: 8-2-0
Power play: 15/66 (22.73% – 3rd in BCIHL)
Penalty kill: 54/64 (84.38% – 2nd in BCIHL)
The team has a balanced offensive attack, led by Cole Wilson and Anthony Barbado. Wilson sits fourth in CIS scoring with 19 points, while his teammate Barbado has 15 points on the year. Wilson has followed up an impressive point per game season in 2012-2013 with an even better campaign in 2013-2014.
Despite the lackluster record for the Thunderbirds, the team is coming off a confidence-boosting sweep of Lethbridge in late November.
UBC took down Lehtbridge 9-2 on Saturday November 29th before going on to defeat them 3-1 the night after.
Captain Cole Wilson compiled four points over the weekend, while youngster Luke Lockhart made waves on Saturday, notching a hat-trick before adding an assist in Sunday’s win. What was even more remarkable was the fact all Lockhart’s goals came shorthanded, setting a new Canada West record.
The UBC Thunderbirds, as with the SFU Clan, will be eager to get back into action after a lengthy rest.
Though the ‘Birds won’t face SFU this weekend, they did defeat the Clan 6-2 and 5-2 in two exhibition games earlier this season.
Key Stat: As with the SFU Clan, the Thunderbirds take great pride in the ability of their power play. Despite sitting seventh in league standings, the Birds have the third-best power play, operating at 20.3%. Cole Wilson and Neil Manning lead the charge with three power-play tallies apiece.
Who to Watch: It may be hard to keep your eye off captain Cole Wilson and the flashy Anthony Barbado, but the 20-year-old Luke Lockhart deserves some attention too. Coming off a weekend in which he registered a hat-trick, Lockhart now is tied for the team lead in goals with seven. Luke had spent his past five seasons in the WHL, racking up 75 goals, 165 points and 146 penalty minutes in 345 career games with the Seattle Thunderbirds.
The university has a knack for developing elite talent. Ed Belfour and Garry Valk are just two of many retired NHL players who spent time earlier in their careers playing with UND.
UND boasts a 9-7-2 record on the season, but have won their past five games, meaning they are coming in hot to the Bill Copeland Sports Centre. They have been led all season by Florida Panthers prospect Rocco Grimaldi, who has 17 points in 18 games on the year.
Grimaldi played in the 2013 World Junior Championship tournament, scoring two goals, including the game winner, in the championship game vs. Sweden.
There is plenty of other talent to go around on the UND roster, including a top tier goalie that will make scoring goals a difficult task for UBC and SFU.
Boston Bruins prospect Zane Gothberg has been a rock in net, going 7-5-2 with a .917 save percentage and 2.36 GAA.
UND closed out their first half of the season with back-to-back wins over Northern Michigan, and Gotherberg was a big part of each victory.
Gothberg earned wins on December 13th and December 14th, stopping a total of 37 shots and allowing just two goals as his team cruised to 4-1 and 3-1 victories, closing out a non-conference series sweep over Northern Michigan.
Jordan Schmaltz (St. Louis Blues 1st round draft pick) finished the series with three points, while Luke Johnson (Chicago Blackhawks draft pick), Paul LaDue (Los Angeles Kings draft pick), and Michael Parks (Philadelphia Flyers draft pick) all finished the weekend with two points.
The team boasts numerous NHL prospects who are ready to showcase their talents to British Columbia.
Key Stat: There are 15 NHL draft picks currently on the UND roster. Though the Showcase is simply exhibition play, UBC and SFU need to focus on their own game and forget the high-caliber of the opposing players they are taking on.
Who to watch: While you can’t really go wrong with 15 NHL draft picks, goaltender Gothberg is a can’t-miss. Through his recent five-game win-streak, the Bruins prospect is sporting a .938 save percentage while allowing, on average, just 1.60 goals per game.
The Princeton men’s hockey team has seen 23 of its players drafted in the National Hockey League’s entry draft since the draft began in 1963.
The team has won two ECAC Hockey Championships, in 1998 and 2008. Success has been harder to come by this season though, as the team last lost four straight games heading into this upcoming weekend.
Junior Tucker Brockett leads the charge offensively with 11 points in 17 games on the season.
Andrew Ammon is having another good season in his third year with Princeton, leading the team with six goals.
Key Stat: Through 17 games this season, Princeton has only managed to score five first-period goals. Getting the first goal against Princeton will be crucial for SFU and UBC.
Who to Watch: Senior Andrew Calof is always a pleasure to watch. Calof has only played seven games this season due to injury, but has still picked up four assists in that span. He picked up one of those helpers in the Tigers’ most recent game, a 3-2 loss in the consolation game of the Florida College Hockey Classic at Germain Arena. Over his career with Princeton, the senior has 40 goals and 106 points in 102 games.
2013 Great Northwest Showcase Schedule (all times listed are PST):
Game 1 – Simon Fraser University vs. Princeton University; Friday, January 3; 4:00pm
Game 2 – University of British Columbia vs. University of North Dakota; Friday, January 3; 7:00pm
Game 3 – University of British Columbia vs. Princeton University; Saturday, January 4; 4:00pm
Game 4 – Simon Fraser University vs. University of North Dakota; Saturday, January 4; 7:00pm