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BCHL Next Generation: West Kelowna Warriors

In the weeks leading up to the start of the 2022-23 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.

We will start with the Interior Conference. Next up is the West Kelowna Warriors.

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The West Kelowna Warriors had a highly successful 2021-22 campaign, led by BCHL Top Defenceman Award winner Tyson Jugnauth, as well as a high-end forward group that filled the net with an average of nearly four goals per game.

After two series wins over the Vernon Vipers and Salmon Arm Silverbacks in the playoffs, the Warriors were defeated in the Interior Conference Finals by the eventual league champion Penticton Vees.

As is the case with most teams, there will be a high amount of turnover for the Warriors this year. Head coach and general manager Simon Ferguson has been busy this summer, signing new recruits for the fall. He gives us the lowdown on all the new blood arriving in West Kelowna this year.

New recruits

Ben MacDonald (2004, F)

  • Hometown: Weston, Mass.
  • Previous team: Noble & Greenough School (USHS-Prep)
  • College commitment: Harvard University
  • NHL draft: Seattle Kraken (3rd round, 91st overall)

MacDonald led his prep school team in scoring in 2021-22, piling up 29 points in 22 games on a team-high 14 goals and 15 assists. He drafted in the third round of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft by the Seattle Kraken.

Ferguson’s scouting report:

“He’s a high-end player. He skates, shoots and sees the ice well. He should be a go-to guy offensively for us.”

Luke Devlin (2004, F)

  • Hometown: Memphis, Tenn.
  • Previous team: St. Andrew’s College (CAHS)
  • College Commitment: Cornell University
  • NHL draft: Pittsburgh Penguins (6th Round, 182nd overall)

Devlin led St. Andrew’s in scoring in 2021-22 with 47 points in 44 games. His 19 goals and 28 assists were both the most among teammates. He is the younger brother of Coquitlam Express defenceman Ian Devlin and is the son of Toronto Raptors broadcaster Matt Devlin. He was drafted in the sixth round by the Pittsburgh Penguins at the 2022 NHL Entry Draft.

Ferguson’s scouting report:

“Luke is a big centreman who controls the play and can shoot the puck. He’s going to be a force in this league and will be a leader on our team.”

Matt Fusco (2003, D)

  • Hometown: Westwood, Mass.
  • Previous team: Dexter Southfield School (USHS-Prep)
  • College commitment: Harvard University

Fusco was captain of his prep school team last year at Dexter Southfield in Massachusetts. He averaged exactly one point per game with 24 in 24 contests, leading all defencemen on his team in scoring.

Ferguson’s scouting report:

“Fusco is a two-way defenceman who can skate. He has a bomb of shot and he can really defend as well. He was a leader at Dexter, so we are hoping for the same from him in West Kelowna.”

Jaiden Moriello (2003, F)

  • Hometown: Saugus, Mass.
  • Previous team: Kimball Union Academy (USHS-Prep)
  • College commitment: UMass-Lowell

Moriello played the past three years at Kimball Union and was team captain in 2021-22. During his final season, he averaged a goal per game, scoring 33 times in 33 contests. He added 14 assists to finish with 47 points which made him the third leading scorer on the team.

Ferguson’s scouting report:

“He comes in as one of the top goal-scorers in USHS prep hockey. He knows how to find the net. He can shoot. He can skate. He’s a really exciting player.”

Nolan Hayes (2002, D)

  • Hometown: Boston, Mass.
  • Previous team: Omaha Lancers (USHL)
  • College commitment: Northeastern University

Hayes scored one goal and added four assists over 33 games for Omaha of the USHL last season. The year prior, he played with the South Shore Kings of the NCDC and was the team’s highest scoring defenceman with 19 points in 35 contests.

Ferguson’s scouting report:

“Nolan is an offensive defenceman who has the ability to play both sides of the puck. He has some solid junior experience as well, coming from the USHL.”

Michael Salandra (2003, F)

  • Hometown: Pleasantville, N.Y.
  • Previous team: Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks (NAHL)

Salandra had a solid offensive season for Danbury of the North American Hockey League last year, notching 34 points in 55 regular-season games.

Ferguson’s scouting report:

“Salandra is a kid who plays with a high IQ. He’s a smart player who makes nice plays. He can shoot the puck and he also plays with some speed.”

Bobby May (2003, D)

  • Hometown: Davidson, N.C.
  • Previous team: Kimball Union Academy (USHS-Prep)

May was one of many highly productive defenceman with Kimball Union last year. The 18-year-old put up three goals and 20 assists for 23 points in 33 contests.

Ferguson’s scouting report:

“Bobby is a steady two-way defenceman. He can move the puck. He can skate and he should be able to defend with some of the best in the league.”

Kailus Green (2004, F)

  • Hometown: Kelowna, B.C.
  • Previous team: Kelowna Rockets U18 AAA (BCEHL U18)

Green was captain of his U18 team in 2021-22, as well as their leading scorer. He put up 33 points in 29 games, including a team-best 17 goals. He got into three Junior B games last year as an affiliate, as well as four BCHL games with the Warriors where he registered one assist.

Ferguson’s scouting report:

“He competes in all areas of the ice. He finishes his check and works hard. He’s going to be a great local player for us.”

Félix Caron (2004, F)

  • Hometown: Terrebonne, Que.
  • Previous team: Collège Esther-Blondin Phénix (QM18AAA)
  • College commitment: Rensselaer Polytechnic University

Caron led his U18 team in scoring in 2021-22 with 46 points in 36 games. His 19 goals and 27 assists were also tops on the team.

Ferguson’s scouting report:

“He can score. He can shoot. He works hard up and down the ice. He could be a high-end player for us in the next few years.”

Matthew Lee (2005, F)

  • Hometown: St. Catharines, Ont.
  • Previous team: Bishop Kearney Selects 16U AAA (16U AAA)

Lee put up eye-popping numbers with his 16U team last year. He totaled 116 points, including 60 goals, in 82 games across all competition for a Bishop Kearney Selects team that went on to win a national championship.

Ferguson’s scouting report:

“He’s a guy who wins. He’s small, but he’s crafty and he can score goals in all areas of the ice.”

Jake Bernadet (2003, F)

  • Hometown: South Burlington, Ver.
  • Previous team: Islanders Hockey Club (NCDC)

Bernadat produced 15 goals last year, which was third most on his team. He added eight assists to finish with 23 points in 46 games.

Ferguson’s scouting report:

“Jake is a guy that we recruited out of our Boston development camp. He showed up and carried the play with his speed. His IQ is good as well. He’s someone who is a late-developer, so we think he’s going to turn into a good player for us.”

Cayden Hamming (2003, G)

  • Hometown: Vernon, B.C.
  • Previous team: Trail Smoke Eaters (BCHL)

Hamming most recently played during the 2020-21 pod season with Trail where he started eight games in the Penticton Pod. Prior to that, he was a standout with the Okanagan Rockets U18 program and went 15-1-1 during the 2019-20 campaign.

Ferguson’s scouting report:

“Cayden is a big goaltender who is steady and doesn’t give up a lot. He has the ability to be an elite goalie in this league in the years to come.”

Acquired via trade

Aiden Reeves (2002, D)

  • Hometown: Prince George, B.C.
  • Previous team: Prince George Cougars (WHL)

Reeves played the past two-plus seasons with Prince George of the Western Hockey League, appearing in 62 games for the Cougars. He has some BCHL experience as well, having played 12 games with the Prince George Spruce Kings during the 2019-20 campaign. His rights were acquired by the Warriors in a June trade with the Spruce Kings.

Ferguson’s scouting report:

“Reeves is a player who has the ability to play offence, as well as the ability to be a shutdown defenceman. He’ll be a leader on and off the ice and he’ll play solid minutes against other teams’ top players.”

Photo credits: Dan Hickling (MacDonald, Devlin, Fusco, Moriello, Hayes, May, Lee, Bernadet), Tami Quan (Green), Jack Murray (Hamming), James Doyle (Reeves)