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BCHL Next Generation: Coquitlam Express

In the weeks leading up to the start of the 2021-22 regular season, we will be going team-by-team to profile new players coming in for the upcoming year. This will include recaps of offseason commitments and acquisitions, as well as scouting reports from the coaches.

Next up is the Coquitlam Express.

The Express put together a 6-11-3-0 record last year when they hosted the Surrey Eagles and the Powell River Kings in the Coquitlam Pod. Despite finishing third in the standings, there is plenty of room for optimism heading into this year’s campaign.

They have a brand-new head coach in Brandon Shaw, who previously spent time as an assistant with the Merritt Centennials and Alberni Valley Bulldogs. They also have a long list of new recruits and offseason acquisitions ready to join veteran returning players like Ryan Tattle and Christian MacDougall.

We spoke with Shaw who gave us the rundown on all the new players for the 2021-22 season.

New recruits

Tyler Kopff (2003, F)

  • Hometown: Ridgewood, N.J.
  • Previous team: North Jersey Avalanche 18U AAA (AYHL 18U)
  • College commitment: Brown University (2022-23)

Kopff spent the majority of his youth hockey career in the North Jersey Avalanche system. In 2020-21, for the U18 team, he had 19 points in 12 games. He also spent time last year at Ridgewood High in New Jersey.

Shaw’s scouting report:

“Tyler is a big-body forward. He can play with skill, but can also play a power-forward game as well. He has a great shot as well as the ability to make plays. He’ll be an offensive player for us, but he also pays close attention to the little details in his game like getting pucks out and getting pucks in deep. He’ll be a big part of our lineup.”

Harry Meirowitz (2003, D)

  • Hometown: Old Westbury, N.Y.
  • Previous team: North Jersey Avalanche 18U AAA (AYHL 18U)
  • College commitment: Brown University (2022-23)

Another player who came up through the Avalanche system, Meirowitz played last season with the U18 team and put up three goals and seven assists for 10 points in 12 games.

Shaw’s scouting report:

“Harry is a mobile, puck-moving defenceman. He’s extremely smart and competitive. He should play in all situations for us and push the pace on the sheet moving up ice. He’s good on the offensive blueline. I think we can expect him to have some success here as he gets ready to head into Brown.”

Brendan Williams (2002, F)

  • Hometown: San Juan Capistrano, Calif.
  • Previous team: Avon Old Farms School (USHS-Prep)

Last year, Avon only managed to play two games, but Williams was productive in that short amount of time, racking up two goals and two assists. In 2019-20, he led the team in assists with 26 and finished tied for third in team scoring with 32 points.

Shaw’s scouting report:

“He has a very high motor. We expect to see him all over the ice. He plays a lot bigger than his size, just because of how hard he works and how he gets on his opponents quickly. He’s tenacious. We’re excited to see him grow within our lineup and continue to show what he can do.”

Jayden Sison (2003, F)

  • Hometown: Paoli, Penn.
  • Previous team: Mount St. Charles Academy 18U AAA (18U AAA)
  • College commitment: Princeton University (2022-23)

Sison finished third in team scoring at Mount St. Charles last year with 40 points in 33 games played. The year prior, he led their U16 team in points after putting up 62 in 52 contests.

Shaw’s scouting report:

“Jayden could be described as a warrior. He’s another 200-foot guy who pays attention to the little details. He’s going to continue to work on his offensive ability and I think we’ll see that grow throughout the year. He’s the guy that you want going over the boards in playoff-type hockey.”

Arlo Merritt (2001, F)

  • Hometown: Halifax, N.S.
  • Previous team: Sioux Falls Stampeders (USHL)

The Express acquired Merritt during the 2020 preseason in a trade with the Chilliwack Chiefs, but he left for the USHL when the BCHL shut down from November to April. He had three assists in six exhibition games last year split between the Chiefs and Express. In his lone full season in the league in 2019-20, he had 21 points in 48 games for Chilliwack.

Shaw’s scouting report:

“Arlo has a lot of experience in our league as well as the last year that he spent in the USHL. He’s a big-body forward and is very reliable. In prep, he always scored and we’ve seen him score goals in the BCHL as well, so we’re expecting him to come in and be another guy who will do things the right way. When we need it, he’ll play that power-forward role and when we need it, he’ll make plays and put the puck in the back of the net.”

Ben Coghlan (2003, D)

  • Hometown: Nanaimo, B.C.
  • Previous team: Campbell River Storm (VIJHL)

Coghlan played the last two seasons at the Junior B level in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. Last season, he notched five points in eight games in a shortened season with Campbell River. The season prior, he had 27 points in 45 games with the Nanaimo Buccaneers.

Shaw’s scouting report:

“Ben is a complete defenceman. He’s working to grow a complete game. He’s going to be able to move pucks for us. He’s a guy that you notice because of his skating and his ability to move pucks up and down the sheet. We’re excited to see what he can do.”

Jérémy Tremblay (2002, F)

  • Hometown: Orford, Que.
  • Previous team: Stanstead College (CAHS)

Tremblay did not get into any game action last year, but in 2019-20, he had 28 points in 53 games for Stanstead.

Shaw’s scouting report:

“He’s another big-body forward who can play both a skill and a power-forward game. Being a right-handed shot, he’s going to provide some offence on that side. It’s going to be a little bit of an adjustment for him coming to junior, but we expect him to play both sides of the ice and play in all situations for us.”

Acquired via trade

Ian Devlin (2002, D)

  • Hometown: Memphis, Tenn.
  • Previous team: Grande Prairie Storm (AJHL)

Devlin was acquired by the Express last year, but was loaned to Grande Prairie where he played 13 games when the status of the BCHL season was up in the air. In 2019-20, Devlin put up 22 points in 53 games for the Ontario Junior Hockey League’s St. Michael’s Buzzers.

Shaw’s scouting report:

“He’s a big, reliable defenceman. He’s extremely coachable and intelligent. He’s an Ivy League type of person and player. He will play big minutes for us and look to shut down other teams’ top guys. He will do a little bit of everything.”

Carter Cochrane (2002, F)

  • Hometown: Victoria, B.C.
  • Previous team: Prince George Spruce Kings (BCHL)

Cochrane is a two-year veteran of the BCHL, having played the last pair of seasons with the Prince George Spruce Kings. In last year’s pod season, he contributed four goals and four assists four eight points in 16 games.

Shaw’s scouting report:

“Carter is going to be a 200-foot player for us, working both sides of the rink and both sides of the puck. He brings some experience being up in Prince George the last two years. We’re going to expect him to push himself to help our team achieve its goals, but also for himself to push to earn a scholarship. He has some offensive ability, but we will rely on him to teach our young guys the right way to play in all 200 feet of the ice.”

Connor Mackenzie (2002, G)

  • Hometown: Toronto, Ont.
  • Previous team: Hawkesbury Hawks (CCHL)

The Express acquired his rights from Hawkesbury, but Mackenzie most recently played for the Whitby Fury of the Ontario Junior Hockey League in 2019-20. That year, he made 35 appearance, had a 14-17-1 record and posted a .911 save percentage with one shutout.

Shaw’s scouting report:

“He’s all around the crease. There’s no one that works harder on the ice than Connor. He’s very athletic. He’s going to have success in the BCHL at some point. He’ll be a big part of our lineup.”

Jesse Makaj (2001, G)

  • Hometown: Vancouver, B.C.
  • Previous team: Winnipeg Ice (WHL)

The Express acquired the rights to Makaj in a trade with the Prince George Spruce Kings in June. He most recently played two years with the Ice from 2018 to 2020 and had a record of 10-10-0 in his most recent stint with the team.

Shaw’s scouting report:

“Jesse is a guy that has a big body. He is probably one of the most experienced guys we have in our lineup. We expect him to come in and just teach everybody how to do the right things and how to take care of your body and prepare for practice. He’ll be a big part of keeping the puck out of our net.”

Ray Hamlin (2003, F)

  • Hometown: Windsor, Ont.
  • Previous team: Smiths Falls Bears (CCHL)

Hamlin did not play any games last year due to the CCHL being shutdown, but in 2019-20 he played 49 games with the LaSalle Vipers of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League and had 13 goals and 13 assists for 26 points.

Shaw’s scouting report:

“He’s a 200-foot player. He’s hard on the forecheck and good on faceoffs. He has good details in his game as well. He’s a high-character person. He’s going to go to the hard areas and make it hard for the other teams to play against us. He’ll also find some success in those areas to provide offence as well.”

Curtis Hammond (2001, F)

  • Hometown: Fort St. John, B.C.
  • Previous team: Grande Prairie Storm (AJHL)

Hammond played his first two years of junior in the Alberta Junior Hockey League where he had 17 points in 47 games over two seasons split between Grande Prairie and the Bonnyville Pontiacs. A B.C. native, he played the 2018-19 season with the Cariboo Cougars U18 AAA team where he was over a point-per-game with 43 in 40 contests.

Shaw’s scouting report:

“He brings experience. He’s obviously had success in B.C. before heading to the AJHL. He was also well-coached in that league both of his years there. He’s learned what it takes to be in the lineup and be a contributor in different ways. We expect him to come in and do the same for us and also teach the younger guys that you have to go to the hard areas of the ice to have success.”

Jaeger Murdock (2004, F)

  • Hometown: West Vancouver, B.C.
  • Previous team: Nanaimo Clippers (BCHL)

As a rookie last year, Murdock played all 20 games for the Clippers in the pod season, chipping in with two goals and one assist.

Shaw’s scouting report:

“He’s a young forward with lots of potential. Last year was a big learning year for him being a young guy in the league. We expect him to take steps and continue to move his way up the lineup for us.”

Photo credits: Dan Hickling (Kopff, Sison, Merritt), Garrett James Photography (Cochrane), Gary Dorland (Murdock)