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BCHL Next Generation: Cowichan Valley Capitals

All summer we’ll be going team-by-team to profile new players coming in for the 2020-21 season with recaps of offseason commits and acquisitions. We will also have interviews and scouting reports from the coaches.

Next up is the Cowichan Valley Capitals.

Geoff Grimwood is now in his third stint coaching in the BCHL after being hired as the new head coach and general manager of the Cowichan Valley Capitals in May. His previous two stops in the BCHL were in 2018-19 as the head coach of the West Kelowna Warriors and for two seasons from 2010 to 2012 as an assistant with the Powell River Kings.

At 39-years-old, Grimwood has already built a long coaching resume at many different levels, including the WHL, Major Midget, Junior B and Junior A, which includes his most recent gig in Manitoba with the Winkler Flyers.

With so much experience under his belt, it’s obvious that he has a love for coaching and a love for the game.

“I just really like being a part of a team,” he said. “When you’re coaching in Junior A hockey, you just have so many different pieces to the puzzle to make it work. You have to have the right players. You have to have the community behind you. You have to have great billets. You have to have a great coaching staff, training staff and scouting staff. I love the idea of putting a program together and having all those different parts come together to try to achieve the same goal.”

This time around, Grimwood is taking over a talented Capitals team that was the best the franchise had seen in 16 years. They finished with 35 wins, the most since 2003-04, and one point shy of first place in the Island Division with 77 points.

“Over the last two years, you saw the team on an upward trajectory,” said Grimwood. “Anytime you have a [former coach] Mike Vandekamp team, you know they’re going to be hard-working and I knew that the players would individually all have really good habits and good character just from having him as a coach. We made a pretty strong effort to keep as many of those players as possible. We’re really excited about it. Sometimes you have to start at the bottom, but in this situation, we’re really fortunate to have the returning players that we do.”

New recruits:

Adam Grenier (2003, F)

  • Hometown: Coquitlam, B.C.
  • Previous team: Burnaby Winter Club Prep (CSSHL)

The 17-year-old was one point back of the Burnaby Winter Club scoring lead last season with 39 in 36 games. His 24 assists were most on the team. He also played one game as an affiliate in 2019-20 with the Chilliwack Chiefs.

Grimwood’s scouting report:

“He’s still on the younger side at only 17-years-old, but we think he can play at 17 and contribute. That being said, we think the real upside is going to come down the road for him. He’s a guy with a lot of talent and a lot of passion for the game. We’re really excited to have him.”

Shawn Milord (2001, F)

  • Hometown: St-Cesaire, Que.
  • Previous team: Sorel-Tracy Rebelles (QCHL)

Milord tied for second in team scoring with Sorel-Tracy last year with 36 points in 32 games. He also led the team in assists with 28.

Grimwood’s scouting report:

“He’s a really gifted, creative, playmaking centreman. He’s a guy that I think will compliment some of our goal-scoring wingers really well. He can play on the power play and distribute the puck really well. He’s someone we are going to count on for some offence.”

Daron Cyr (2002, D)

  • Hometown: Sturgeon County, Alta.
  • Previous team: Fort Saskatchewan Rangers U18 AAA (AEHL U18)

Cyr came up through the ranks in the Fort Saskatchewan system. In 2019-20, he put up 15 points in 29 games for the U18 team to finish second in defencemen scoring. He also has some Junior A experience, having suited up for seven AJHL games over the past two seasons, split between the Spruce Grove Saints and the Sherwood Park Crusaders and registering two assists.

Grimwood’s scouting report:

“I actually coached his older brother, so I have a pretty good indication of the character and leadership that he’ll bring. He’s going to be a meat and potatoes defenceman that might not show up on the scoresheet a ton, but he’ll be a really valuable guy for us that can play a two-way shutdown game.”

Jayden Shull (2002, G)

  • Hometown: North Vancouver, B.C.
  • Previous team: Vancouver NW Hawks (BC U18)

Shull played the last two seasons with the Hawks. His best season was 2019-20 when he went 13-6-1 with a 2.43 goals-against average and two shutouts.

Grimwood’s scouting report:

“Every person we’ve talked to has nothing but good things to say about Jayden. As a first-year goalie, we think he can step in and play. We won’t have to protect him too much. He’s going to be mature enough and ready to face the calibre of shooters that he’ll see in our league.”

Matthew Mazzocchi (2002, F)

  • Hometown: Calgary, Alta.
  • Previous team: Calgary Flames U18 AAA (AEHL U18)

The 18-year-old had 24 points in 26 games last season for the Flames. He also already has a Junior A goal under his belt as he lit the lamp once in his two affiliate games with the Drumheller Dragons of the AJHL.

Grimwood’s scouting report:

“He has really good speed. He’s a player that plays a pretty aggressive style and plays with a lot of pace in his game. He’s a guy we think is going to be able to contribute at both ends of the ice. He plays physically, but he’s got a good scoring touch. He’s a first-year player that we hope can grow with us in the next two to three years and be a really good BC Hockey League player.”

Vincent Bernier (2001, F)

  • Hometown: St-Hyacinthe, Que.
  • Previous team: Sorel-Tracy Rebelles (QCHL)

Bernier played finished fourth in team scoring for Sorel-Tracy last year with 35 points in 34 games, one behind teammate Shawn Milord who is also committed to the Capitals this year.

Grimwood’s scouting report:

“Vincent is a 19-year-old player, so we’re hoping he comes in a little more mature than typical first-year guys. He’s a very physical, hard-working player. I think he’s going to be a bit of a fan favourite. He’s got a big personality and he works extremely hard. He’s got a heavy shot. He’s going to play that two-way game as well as a rugged game.”

Brendan Kerr (2002, F)

  • Hometown: Victoria, B.C.
  • Previous team: Notre Dame Hounds U18 AAA (SMAAAHL)

Kerr had 16 goals and 16 assists for 32 points in 44 games last year in his second campaign with Notre Dame’s U18 team.

Grimwood’s scouting report:

“Brendan is going to be a very hard-working, physical two-way centreman. He has extremely high character. His leadership is something that we were really attracted to. I think he’s a future captain-type player. We have high hopes for Brendan and I know he’s going to help us right away.”

Acquired via trade:

Jack Barnes (2000, F)

  • Hometown: Buffalo, N.Y.
  • Previous team: Penticton Vees

The BCHL veteran played the last three seasons with the Penticton Vees. Barnes has played 156 regular-season games in his BCHL career and totaled 42 points. He is the son of former NHL player Stu Barnes.

Grimwood’s scouting report:

“There’s a lot of leadership there and a lot of character. We think that there’s a lot of room in his game to grow offensively. He played on a pretty good team in Penticton, so he didn’t get the type of offensive minutes that he might have gotten on a different team. We think he’s a guy that’s going to contribute more and more as the season goes and as he gets more of an opportunity.”

Tom Richter (2000, F)

  • Hometown: Greenwich, Conn.
  • Previous team: Prince George Spruce Kings
  • College commitment: Union College (2021-22)

Another player with NHL bloodlines, Tom is the son of former New York Rangers goaltender Mike Richter. He had 10 points in 56 games with the Spruce Kings in 2019-20

Grimwood’s scouting report:

“Tom’s another guy, similar to [Jack] Barnes, where we think he’s got a little more offence to his game than he’s shown so far. He’s a really skilled player with a good head for the game and good hockey instincts. There’s an opportunity for him to come in and play a bit more of an offensive role with us. He’s no different than some of the other guys who we are counting on to take a step forward in their development and be contributing players for us.”

Jackson Murphy-Johnson (2002, D)

  • Hometown: Burnaby, B.C.
  • Previous team: Trail Smoke Eaters

The 18-year-old defenceman had a goal and four assists in his first BCHL season last year with Trail.

Grimwood’s scouting report:

“Anytime a defenceman is able to play in the league at 17, it shows that there’s some quality to his game as well as a lot of upside. We’ve got four other returning defencemen, so he can slide in there with those guys and be a really good contributing player at 18-years-old. Good defencemen are hard to acquire in this league, so we were fortunate to get him.”

Jacob Brockman (2001, F)

  • Hometown: El Segundo, Calif.
  • Previous team: West Kelowna Warriors

Brockman had nine points in 54 regular-season games for the Warriors last year in his rookie season in the league.

Grimwood’s scouting report:

“Jacob is a guy that played forward and defence in West Kelowna last year, so he has good versatility and size at 6-foot-3. We see him as a guy that can contribute in both directions. He’s a hard-working kid with good character.”

Photo credits: Two Point Photography (Grenier), Notre Dame Hounds (Kerr), Garrett James Photography (Barnes, Richter, Murphy-Johnson, Brockman)