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BCHL Next Generation: Victoria Grizzlies

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.

Next up is the Victoria Grizzlies.

You could excuse the Grizzlies if there was going to be a letdown in 2019-20. Last season, they won the Island Division, finished with the most goals scored in the BCHL, had the league’s leading scorer and MVP and saw three of their players get drafted in the 2019 NHL Draft, including first-rounder Alex Newhook.

After all the highs of last year, head coach Craig Didmon is determined to prevent that letdown from happening. His group of returning players will be leaned upon heavily to guide the new group and draw from their experiences from last season.

“We’ve got a lot of guys that have been around for a few years,” said Didmon. “I just hope they’ve learned from the previous group and grown with them, because now it’s their time to lead. I like my leadership group. They all played good playoff rounds last year. They’re all eager and ready to go. They all have good habits and a lot of that was from the character of the players last year.”

Acquired via trade

Liam Soulière (1999, G)

  • Hometown: Brampton, Ont.
  • Previous team: Brockville Braves (CCHL)
  • Commitment: Penn State University (2020-21)

Soulière was awarded the CCHL’s Best Goaltender award and was named a First-Team All-Star after posting a 26-8-1 record with a .930 save percentage, a 2.13 goals-against average and two shutouts in 37 regular-season games.

Didmon’s scouting report:

“He’s had two really good seasons at the Junior A level and he wanted to come to B.C. to challenge himself before he goes to Penn State. We’re really fortunate he’s here. He seems like a great kid and we know he’s going to be a great goalie.”

2019-20 commits

Cody Monds (2001, F)

  • Hometown: Brockville, Ont.
  • Previous team: Northwood School Junior (USHS-Prep)
  • Commitment: Providence College (2020-21)

Monds was his league’s second-leading scorer last year with 95 points in 66 games and had the third-most goals with 36.

Didmon’s scouting report:

“He’s a skilled forward, but he also plays really hard. He had a great season last year and he just seems to get better and better every time we see him. We’re excited about him and we’re hoping he can be an impact guy for us right away.”

Chase McInnis (2001, F)

  • Hometown: Hingham, Mass.
  • Previous team: Dexter School (USHS-Prep)
  • Commitment: Northeastern University (2020-21)

The son of former NHL player Marty McInnis, the 18-year-old led his school in scoring last year with 43 points in 30 games.

Didmon’s scouting report:

“He’s a really good 200-foot player. He plays a smart game in all areas, so he’s going to be really handy in a lot of different parts of the game. He’s going to be a great player to have because he plays a complete game and those guys are contagious.”

Brendan Bowie (2001, F)

  • Hometown: Burlington, Ont.
  • Previous team: St. Andrew’s College (CAHS)
  • Commitment: St. Lawrence University (2021-22)

The 18-year-old led St. Andrew’s in goals (38), assists (50) and points (88) last season.

Didmon’s scouting report:

“He’s a great shooter. He’s another guy that had a great season last year. He just finds offence. He’s got a really good knack as a playmaker too. He’s someone that we’re definitely looking at to create offence this year.”

James Davenport (2000, D)

  • Hometown: Natick, Mass.
  • Previous team: St. Sebastian’s School (USHS-Prep)
  • Commitment: Brown University (2020-21)

Davenport had nearly a point per game last year at prep school, putting up seven goals and 17 assists for 24 points in 29 games.

Didmon’s scouting report:

“He’s a skilled, right-handed defenceman who is more than ready to come into the league. He plays our style of game, the way we like to play with the defencemen getting involved. He’s going to be big addition.”

Michael Hoekstra (2002, F)

  • Hometown: Victoria, B.C.
  • Previous team: South Island Royals (BCMML)

The 17-year-old joins his hometown team after leading the Royals in scoring last season with 34 points in 40 games.

Didmon’s scouting report:

“Michael is a local guy. He’s a big kid who skates well for his size and he plays hard. I think there’s a huge upside to his game and he’s going to learn a lot this year. I think he’s going to be a dominant power forward in the league down the road.”

Andrew Amousse (2001, F)

  • Hometown: Laval, Que.
  • Previous team: Stanstead College (MPHL)

Amousse spent the last three seasons at Stanstead College. Last year he was an assistant captain and had 16 points in 18 games.

Isack Bandu (2001, D)

  • Hometown: Notre-Dame-de-l’Île-Perrot, Que.
  • Previous team: Stanstead College (MPHL)

The 18-year-old also played at Stanstead College last year where he had six points in 19 regular-season games and added two goals and two assists in five playoff contests.

Benjamin Biester (2001, F)

  • Hometown: Danville, Calif.
  • Previous team: Anaheim Jr. Ducks 18U (T1EHL U18)

In 30 games played last year, Biester led his team in goals with 19 and points with 32.

Joe Howe (2001, G)

  • Hometown: Barrie, Ont.
  • Previous team: Upper Canada College (CISAA)

Howe played the last two seasons at Upper Canada College. His best stretch came in the 2017-18 season where he posted a 1.33 goals-against average and a .943 save percentage in eight games.

Photo credits: (Souliere), Northwood School (Monds), Neutral Zone (McInnis, Bowie, Davenport)