BCHL Next Generation: Alberni Valley Bulldogs

All summer we’ll be going team-by-team to profile new players coming in for the 2019-20 season with recaps of offseason commits and acquisitions. We will also have interviews and scouting reports from the coaches.

First up is the Alberni Valley Bulldogs.

The Bulldogs have had a busy offseason, first announcing Joe Martin as the team’s new head coach in April, then adding new players through commitments and trades. With Martin now behind the bench, he is putting an emphasis on speed and skill, not unlike his recent teams in Merritt.

“Some of those things will transition over,” said Martin. “I think the reason we had so much offence [in Merritt] was we were a good-skating team and we were relentless. We’ll have some core values in how we play. Being accountable and being relentless will be two of the things that we value. As you can see with the players that we have, skating and skill are also things that we hold in high regard. When we talk about those types of things, I think scoring naturally occurs.”

With training camp on the horizon, Martin has certain expectations for his team that he wants to instill in his players heading into the season.

“I want to make the arena even more difficult to play in for opposing teams,” he said. “That’s what we’re asking for from our players. That’s what we’re looking for in our culture, being very hard to play against. I think as a coach, that’s always something that you want to be well-known for. The belief that we had in Merritt when I left was that when you graduate from the program, you’re going on to something bigger and better and that’s what we want here too.”

2019-20 commits:

Moe Acee (2001, D)

  • Hometown: Ballston Spa, N.Y.
  • Previous team: Avon Old Farms School (USHS-Prep)
  • Commitment: St. Lawrence University

Acee is a player that fits the mold of speed and skill that Martin wants to emphasize this year. The 18-year-old defenceman had 11 points in 26 high-school games last year for Avon Old Farms School.

Martin’s scouting report:

“He’s an elite skater who likes to get involved in the play. Skating and skill will be a trend here and it’s a huge thing for Moe. We look forward to him helping our backend.”

Tommy Bannister (2001, F)

  • Hometown: Clayton, N.Y.
  • Previous team: Northwood School 18U (USPHL 18U)

One of those players who Martin will rely on to provide offence is 17-year-old forward Tommy Bannister. He lit up his high school league at Northwood School in New York last season with 83 points in 68 games.

Martin’s scouting report:

“He’s a skilled forward who was second on his team in scoring last year.  He’s a player from Upstate New York on Lake Ontario, an area that I grew up in so I know it well. He’s a quality kid – a good person with a good family.”

Carson Hemenway (2002, D)

  • Hometown: Ladner, B.C.
  • Previous team: North Island Silvertips (BCMML)

Hemenway had 19 points in 39 games on the blueline last year playing major midget.

Martin’s scouting report:

“He had a good season last year. He’s a good skater who made our team out of spring camp where he was very good. He’s a young guy and we’re going to be looking to build around him in the future.”

Other offseason acquisitions:

Tim Gould (2000, D)

  • Hometown: Moncton, N.B.
  • Previous team: Notre Dame Hounds (SJHL) (acquired via trade)
  • Commitment: University of Maine (2020-21)

The blueliner had 60 points in 104 regular-season games the last two seasons playing in the SJHL. He led the Hounds in scoring from the backend with 31 points in the 2017-18 season.

Martin’s scouting report:

“He’s a good-skating defenceman, involved at both ends of the rink and he’s a quality individual away from the ice. He’s a professional and someone that can help move this culture onto the right path.”

Luke Pearson (2001, G)

  • Hometown: Whitby, Ont.
  • Previous team: Whitby Fury (OJHL) (acquired via trade)

Pearson played the last two seasons in the OJHL for his hometown team of Whitby. Last season he put up eye-popping numbers including a .938 save percentage and a 1.94 goals-against average. He’s slated to succeed former Bulldog John Hawthorne as the team’s starting goalie next year.

Martin’s scouting report:

“He was a runner-up MVP in net in the OJHL and I think that speaks a lot when you’re still a 2001 birthday. He’s a young kid with a bright future. He’s got good size, good ability and he’s got great marks. I think this kid is very well-focused and driven and somebody that we want to lean on.”

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The Bulldogs kick off their regular-season schedule Friday, Sept. 6 against the Powell River Kings.