Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Former Express Jordan Soquila was among 10 winners of the RBC Scholarship across Canada.

CALGARY, Alta. – Hockey Canada announced on Wednesday the 2010 RBC Junior A Scholarship winners. These annual scholarship awards provide financial assistance to players of the Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL) for post-secondary education.

2010 RBC Junior A Scholarship winners:

British Columbia Hockey League – Jordan Soquila - Merritt Centennials

Alberta Junior Hockey League – Breyden DeCock – Drumheller Dragons

Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League – Travis Janke – Notre Dame Hounds

Manitoba Junior Hockey League – Joe Caligiuri – Dauphin Kings

Superior International Junior Hockey League – Andrew Childs – K&A Wolverines

Ontario Junior A Hockey League – Paolo Alexandre Pianosi – Aurora Tigers

Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League – Bronson Kovacs – Soo Thunderbirds

Central Junior Hockey League – Andrew Calof – Nepean Raiders

Ligue de hockey junior AAA du Qu├ębec – Etienne Archambault – College Francais de Longueuil

Maritime Junior A Hockey League – Samuel MacCormick – Bridgewater Lumberjacks

“RBC is pleased to continue helping provide opportunities for Junior A hockey players to further their education,” said Josh Epstein, manager of sponsorship and Olympic marketing for RBC. “This program provides scholarships based on players' outstanding academic accomplishments and extraordinary community service. We are proud to play a part in this and other important initiatives that develop well-rounded Canadian athletes.”

Players eligible for the RBC Junior A Scholarships must be Canadian citizens, on Canadian Junior A team rosters, and be registered or applying for full-time post-secondary studies. Scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic achievement, hockey achievement and community involvement.

The winner of the $5,000 national RBC Junior A Scholarship will be announced prior to the 2010 RBC Cup, which takes place May 1-9 in Dauphin, Man. The winner is selected for the award from a list of finalists by a national panel of Hockey Canada-appointed junior hockey representatives.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


(Taken from the Coquitlam Now)

Candidates narrowed to five in Express coach hunt
Dan Olson, Coquitlam NOW
Published: Wednesday, March 24, 2010
The walls have been painted and boxes unpacked, but the Coquitlam Express are still looking to put a personal stamp on their new home.

The B.C. Hockey League club shifted into its new Poirier Street office on the weekend, across from the construction site that is the Poirier Sports Centre renewal project.

Now comes the fun part.

The hockey club launches its season ticket drive this week, and Express general manager and president Darcy Rota gives a speech tomorrow to the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce. No single act, however, looms larger than the club's hiring of a new head coach.

They fielded inquiries and applications for a month and last week whittled it down to five people -- who all went through the interview process last week.
"We had a lot of great candidates apply, over 30 people sent in their resumes," Rota said of the search that began a month ago. "From Europe, outside the province, a Division 1 college assistant coach -- by the volume and quality of applicants, you can see that it's a coveted job."
The necessary attributes cover the gamut of activities that a junior hockey club undertakes -- from recruiting and developing talent, establishing a winning, entertaining brand of hockey, to being the face of the franchise.

The ownership committee interviewed the top five candidates and are scheduled to meet in the coming days to make a final choice. That choice will set the direction of the franchise as it re-establishes its roots in Coquitlam after five seasons in Burnaby.
"It's a very important decision and all the candidates bring a variety of things to the table," Rota noted.

The Express missed the playoffs for a second straight season, posting an 18-36-6 record under Dave McLellan, who was fired mid-January, and Rota.

And while 16 players are eligible to return, the franchise is aggressively recruiting to raise the skill and competitive level.

As evident by the rosters of the league's top teams, drawing talent from outside of B.C., including an aggressive push in the U.S., is a vital component to being in the playoff mix.

Last year's lineup featured four Americans, including Minnesota native and team scoring leader Garrick Perry, who is eligible to return as a 19 year old.
"You're allowed eight imports and you want to make sure you get quality guys to fill those spots... Recruiting in our league is a huge piece to the puzzle, it's one of the main jobs of a coach," Rota said.
"We have no draft and no protection lists, so our coach has to have good contacts around the Lower Mainland, around B.C. and outside the province."
Teams can't sign new talent officially until the league issues cards in late May, but Rota and team scouts have identified a handful of local players whom they want to add.

Monday, March 22, 2010


Former Express Lee Baldwin is the latest former Express to sign on with an NHL club.

Today, he signed a free agent deal with the New York Rangers.

He played this past season with the University of Alaska Anchorage scoring 1 goal and 9 assists for 10 points in 32 games.

Before heading up north, Baldwin played the 08-09 season in Victoria. Prior to that he got his start with the Express playing 2 seasons scoring 7 goals and 33 assists for 40 points in 94 career games.

Baldwin becomes the second Express and University of Anchorage alum in the Rangers system.

Paul Crowder signed a free agent deal with New York last year and spent this season with their AHL affiliate in Hartford.

Baldwin's signing is one of many in recent days of former BCHLers signing their first pro deals.

Aaron Volpatti - Vancouver Canucks (Vernon Vipers)
Zac Dalpe - Carolina Hurricanes 2008 2nd round draft pick (Penticton Vees)
Josh Lunden - Phoenix Coyotes (Chilliwack Chiefs)
Hunter Bishop - Montreal Canadiens (Vernon Vipers)

Friday, March 12, 2010


With the Paralympics set to begin today, the family of former Express captain Brady Cook is wishing they were in Vancouver for the opening ceremonies.

He's been playing with the sledge hockey team recently. But he's had a set back.

Here's his story from

Matt Cook's jersey was hanging where he would normally sit in Team Canada's dressing room at the Sledge Hockey Challenge last week. His equipment bag sat in front of his stall, as if No. 16 was ready to go.

Cook, 22, was supposed to be there. He'd trained all summer to be there, had moved across the country to be closer to his teammates. To work toward his Paralympic dream.

But last month, a wheezing cough led him to hospital and doctors delivered the worst: He had between three to six months to live.

"They gave me the devastating news that they figure I've got a short timeframe left. It was a huge shock, a huge shock," Cook told in a phone interview from Edmonton.

"But I feel like everything happens for a reason. If I'm supposed to beat this, I think I will."

He already has. Twice.

But the bone cancer that claimed Cook's left leg at age 18 and reappeared in his lungs in 2008 is back, and this time, doctors say there aren't any treatment options.

trueGreg Westlake and Matt Cook. Greg Strong/The Canadian Press
Two months ago, his prognosis was more hopeful. He wasn't terminal and some doctors were optimistic he'd have a year or two "before things really got bad," as Cook put it.

So, he picked up and moved to Mississauga, Ont., to be closer to his team. "I just figured, why not go with it? Make the move and try to make the most of this year," Cook said during an interview back in September. "If I'm going to try and play hockey this year, I might as well go 100 per cent."

Three months ago, Cook talked of the honour in wearing the Team Canada jersey and playing at the Paralympics. "It would be a great way to thank my family and friends who supported me when I was at my ultimate low," he said. Through the amputation. Through the chemotherapy. Through the many surgeries.

He targeted a two-game series in Rochester last month as his comeback after he was sidelined by back-to-back surgeries in the summer, but two weeks before he was set to return, doctors delivered the devastating news.

Cook called head coach Jeff Snyder to tell him it had been an honour playing for him before moving back to Edmonton to be closer to his family, friends and doctors.

"It's been real tough. He's on our minds all the time," said Snyder, the team's head coach since 2004. "He's such a well-liked player.

"He wasn't with us in Torino in 2006, so he didn't get to experience that, going to the Paralympics. I just wish so much that he could get to experience that.

"It's really difficult. As a coach you always want to help your team get through whatever obstacles are in their way," Snyder said. "This is one they don't teach you about at any coaching clinics, that's for sure."

The jersey and equipment in the dressing room last week were one way to honour Cook, to make him a part of the experience.

"It's our reminder on the way out to the ice to take a look in his stall and remember that there's somebody that would love to be here, would love to play hard for the team, but he can't," said teammate Greg Westlake, one of Cook's roommates in Mississauga.

"He's still a big part of our team. Hopefully it raises our intensity level to play hard for him."

"I'm hoping eventually I can get to March and see those guys play. I'd love to be able to see them pull out the gold again."

- Matt Cook

Cook may not have been with the team last week, but he was following every game online, writing for the team's newsletter, and watching every second of Canada's overtime loss in the final to the rival Americans.

He didn't make the trip to Charlottetown because he's focused on getting better. Cook is looking for alternative therapies, despite the fact his doctors have told him to prepare for the worst, despite the fact that "half the medical field has given up on me," he said.

"They say it's going to be a pretty scary ride over the next few months, but the biggest thing for me is just trying to figure out something right now that can give me the chance at survival," he said. "With the medical field saying it's not worth pursuing anything, they just said, get your things in order, figure out what you're going to do when stuff starts to go bad.

"But you know, I don't really want to take that as an answer."

A former member of the Bonneyville Pontiacs, Cook is the first player with Junior A experience to make Canada's national sledge hockey team. Five months after he had lung surgery to beat cancer for the second time last year, he was named to the roster. He had only a year and a half of sledge experience under his belt.

"The players talk a lot about things they've learned from him," Snyder said. "Guys talk about how he came onto the team pretty fast, how hard he worked to try and improve himself as a player, how he really dedicated himself to being the best player that he could be."

"He's not with us right now, but everyone seems to be following in his footsteps and working harder in practice," Westlake added. "I definitely think we owe a lot of that to Matty."

But if you ask Cook, the national sledge hockey team has given him much more. The team and that Paralympic dream have been a driving force behind his positive attitude, "my reason to get out of bed and make something of my day during all the health setbacks," he said.

Even this latest one.

"For me, there's still a hope that somehow, some way, I'll be able to get back to the team. That's always in the back of your mind, is, you know, what can I do to hopefully make a comeback somehow. I've been clinging on to that," he said.

"If there's anything I can do to get there, I will make a point of doing that. When they told me, ‘You have three to six months left,' that would put me right before the Paralympics.

"I'm going to do whatever it takes to fight until the end. I'm trying to stay upbeat and hope I can do something about this. I'm hoping eventually I can get to March and see those guys play.

"I'd love to be able to see them pull out the gold again."

Whether he's in Vancouver next year or not, Cook will be there in spirit as his team defends its Paralympic title. His jersey will be hanging in his regular spot in the dressing room, his bag, sitting in front, ready to go.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Former Express Gavin Hohl is now applying his trade in the Western States Hockey League with the Phoenix Polar Bears.

Hohl is now one step closer to becoming a National Champion after he scored the OT winner in the decisive game 3 to knock off the number 1 seeded Fresno Monsters to win the Western division league championship.

The Polar Bears will now play the Boulder Bison for the Thorne Cup.

The win also secures the Polar Bears a berth in the National Championship in Marlbourough MA March 25-30.

Best of luck Gavin.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


This will make Dr. Scotty happy...

Former Express goaltender Mark Dekanich playing with the Milwaukee Admirils has been named the AHL goalie of the month for February.

Here's the release from the AHL website.

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League announced today that Mark Dekanich of the Milwaukee Admirals has been named the Reebok/AHL Goaltender of the Month for February. Dekanich allowed just six goals on 145 shots in six appearances on the month, posting a 5-1-0 record, a 1.07 goals-against average, a .959 save percentage and two shutouts.

Dekanich made 22 saves on Feb. 13 as Milwaukee earned a 3-2 victory at Rockford. He then stopped all 25 shots he faced in a 2-0 win over Houston on Feb. 19, and allowed just one goal in 36 minutes of relief work on Feb. 27 as the Admirals rallied for a 7-6 overtime win over Chicago. Dekanich closed out the month with 34 saves – one shy of his season high – in a 4-0 decision at Peoria on Feb. 28, his third shutout in a span of seven starts.

In recognition of his achievement, Dekanich will be presented with an etched crystal award prior to an upcoming Admirals home game.

A second-year pro out of Colgate University, Dekanich has a record of 20-11-3 in 35 appearances for Milwaukee this season, and sports a 2.40 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage. As a rookie in 2008-09, Dekanich ranked second in the entire AHL with a 2.09 GAA and fifth with a .923 save percentage while going 15-10-2 in 30 contests. The 23-year-old native of North Vancouver, B.C., was a fifth-round draft choice by Nashville in 2006.

Kyle Turris is starting to light it up with the San Antonio Rampage, he is currently riding a 5 game goal scoring streak. In the month of February he piled up 7 goals and 5 assists for 12 points in 14 games. Overall, the former Express is now 2nd in Rampage scoring with 17 goals and 24 assists for 41 points in 57 games.