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BCHL Next Generation: West Kelowna Warriors

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.

Last up is the West Kelowna Warriors.

Like most BCHL teams, the Warriors were highly affected by the lengthy shutdown of the league last year and wound up losing several key players who opted to head elsewhere for playing time. Despite losing important parts of their team, they still managed a respectable 8-10-1-1 record in the fiercely competitive Vernon Pod.

What’s even better is that the majority of the players they lost last year are returning to West Kelowna for the 2021-22 season. Players like John Evans, Pat Lawn, Charles-Alexis Legault and Felix Trudeau all chose to come back to the BCHL for another season. Combine that with an impressive group of new recruits and the Warriors outlook for the upcoming campaign looks bright.

Head coach Simon Ferguson is also back for his third season with the team. He gives us the details on the players returning from other teams as well as other recruits and acquisitions from the offseason.

New recruits

John Evans (2002, F)

  • Hometown: South Surrey, B.C.
  • Previous team: Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)
  • College commitment: University of New Hampshire (2022-23)

A member of the BCHL’s All-Rookie Team in 2019-20, Evans burst onto the scene in a big way for the Warriors in his first year in the league, racking up 50 points in 57 games to lead his team in scoring and finish fourth among all rookies. After an impressive 15 points in 13 games during the Okanagan Cup exhibition season last fall, Evans departed for Dubuque of the USHL in January with the BCHL season up in the air and chipped in nine points in 22 games, but is back with the Warriors for the 2021-22 season.

Ferguson’s scouting report:

“John is a player who is exceptional at creating space and finding time. He’s got good vision which allows him to make great passes. He also has the ability to score some goals.”

Nick Roukounakis (2003, F)

  • Hometown: Pembroke, Mass.
  • Previous team: Thayer Academy (USHS-Prep)
  • College commitment: Boston University (2022-23)

Roukounakis did not get into any significant game action last year with Thayer due to COVID shutdowns, but managed to make the most of the time off, playing in eight games with the U.S. National Team Development Program. His last full season of prep hockey came in 2019-20 when he had 27 points in 26 games for Thayer to finish in the top-five in team scoring.

Ferguson’s scouting report:

“He’s a big power forward who moves very well. He has a good shot and is good at protecting the puck. He’ll have the ability to score some goals this year.”

Tyler Rubin (2003, D)

  • Hometown: Wayland, Mass.
  • Previous team: Belmont Hill School (USHS-Prep)
  • College commitment: Princeton University (2022-23)

Rubin is another player who did not get to play meaningful games last year due to shutdowns in Massachusetts. The year prior, he led all Belmont Hill defencemen in scoring with 23 points in 30 games to finish third among all his teammates.

Ferguson’s scouting report:

“Tyler is a mobile defenceman who can make a good first pass or can skate it up the ice himself. He also defends exceptionally well.”

Charles-Alexis Legault (2003, D)

  • Hometown: Pierrefonds, Que.
  • Previous team: Lincoln Stars (USHL)
  • College commitment: Boston University (2022-23)

Legault had a goal and three assists in 10 Okanagan Cup games for the Warriors last fall. After heading south to play for Lincoln of the USHL in the new year, he put up five points in 23 games.

Ferguson’s scouting report:

“He’s one of the hardest-working players I’ve ever seen. He skates well and shoots well. We’re looking for him to have a big season.”

Félix Trudeau (2002, F)

  • Hometown: Terrebonne, Que.
  • Previous team: Amherst Ramblers (MHL)
  • College commitment: University of Maine (2022-23)

Trudeau had four goals and one assist in 11 exhibition games for West Kelowna last year before he was sent to Amherst of the Martime Junior Hockey League in February. Trudeau had nine points in nine regular-season games for the Ramblers and added another seven in five playoff games.

Ferguson’s scouting report:

“He’s a natural shooter. He’s also big and strong which allows him to protect the puck and get to the hard areas.”

Pat Lawn (2001, D)

  • Hometown: Waltham, Mass.
  • Previous team: Connecticut Jr. Rangers (NCDC)
  • College commitment: Bentley University (2022-23)

Lawn played nine games for the Warriors last fall in the extended training camp season and chipped in one assist. He left to play for the Jr. Rangers of the NCDC in January where he had a goal and four assists in 14 games. The year prior, he had 16 points in 29 games for The Rivers School in Weston, Mass.

Ferguson’s scouting report:

“Pat is a physical defenceman who can move his feet and make good passes. He’s great at playing the body in one-on-one situations.”

Alexi Van Houtte-Cachero (2003, F)

  • Hometown: Pointe-Claire, Que.
  • Previous team: Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks (NAHL)
  • College commitment: University of Nebraska-Omaha (2022-23)

Van Houtte-Cachero had three goals and three assists in 39 games for Danbury of the North American Hockey League last season.

Ferguson’s scouting report:

“He’s a player who plays with really good speed and physicality. He’s good on draws, but also good on the wing. He’s a versatile player. He can play in almost any scenario.

Justin Katz (2004, G)

  • Hometown: Mont-Royal, Que.
  • Previous team: Deerfield Academy (USHS-Prep)

Katz only got into a pair of games last year in his second season with Deerfield Academy, but had an impressive .946 save percentage and a 1.50 goals-against average. He also spent time with the Cape Cod Whalers 16U AAA team and posted a 7-0-1 record in eight appearances with a 1.43 goals-against average.

Ferguson’s scouting report:

“He’s a steady young goalie who shows really high potential. He has the ability to push our starting goalie this year.”

Zach Reim (2003, D)

  • Hometown: North Oaks, Minn.
  • Previous team: Gentry Academy (USHS-Prep)

Reim is the cousin of former Warriors forward and current Air Force Academy junior Willie Reim. He played the previous three seasons at Gentry Academy in St. Paul, Minn. Last year, as captain of the team, he led Gentry in scoring from the back end with 36 points in 19 games.

Ferguson’s scouting report:

“Zach has good speed and also defends well. He’s shown that he possesses a good shot and he has the ability to play a physical game as well.”

Isaiah Norlin (2003, D)

  • Hometown: Minneapolis, Minn.
  • Previous team: Gentry Academy (USHS-Prep)

Isaiah is the younger brother of former Warriors forward and current Air Force Academy junior Bennett Norlin. Last season, Isaiah was teammates with fellow Warriors recruit Zach Reim at Gentry Academy. In 2020-21, Norlin put up 27 points in 19 games.

Ferguson’s scouting report:

“He’s a big, right-shot defenceman who is steady and skates well. He’s able to transport the puck up the ice and also make good first passes.”

Acquired via trade

Chase Dafoe (2002, F)

  • Hometown: Beverley, Mass.
  • Previous team: Trail Smoke Eaters (BCHL)

Dafoe captained the Smoke Eaters in his second season with the team last year, notching eight points in 20 games in the Penticton Pod. Through his two-year BCHL career, he’s put up 28 points in 82 games. Dafoe was acquired by the Warriors in August in a three-team trade with Trail and the Blackfalds Bulldogs of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. He is the son of former NHL goaltender Byron Dafoe who also spent time in the BCHL playing for the Juan de Fuca Whalers from 1986 to 1988.

Ferguson’s scouting report:

“Chase is a big, smart player who uses the ice well. He plays a physical game. He can play both power play and penalty kill. He’s also really good on draws.”

Photo credits: Garrett James Photography (Evans, Dafoe), Dan Hickling (Roukounakis, Rubin, Lawn), Tami Quan (Legault, Trudeau)