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Next Generation: Alberni Valley Bulldogs

Presented by Chevrolet.

In the weeks leading up to the start of the 2023-24 season, we will go team-by-team to profile new players entering the league for the upcoming season, including scouting reports from the coaches.

This year, we will go in reverse order of how the teams finished last season, starting with the two clubs that missed the playoffs and ending with the two league finalists. Next up is the Alberni Valley Bulldogs.


The 2022-23 season was one to remember for the Alberni Valley Bulldogs. A year after finishing first in the Coastal Conference, the Bulldogs didn’t quite match their regular-season output, finishing in third place with a 31-19-3-1 record, but the team went on a playoff run that saw them reach the league finals for the first time in franchise history.

The Bulldogs swept the Victoria Grizzlies in the first round, beat the Surrey Eagles in a hard-fought seven game series in round two, then dispatched the Chilliwack Chiefs in four straight in the Coastal Conference Finals before ultimately falling short against the Penticton Vees.

Going into his fifth year as Bulldogs head coach and general manager, Joe Martin has a built a foundation in Port Alberni that he hopes will maintain the level of excellence the team has set the past two seasons. After a busy offseason, we caught up with him to discuss his new recruits and acquisitions for this year.

New recruits

Gleb Artsatbanov (2004, G)

  • Hometown: Donbass Donetsk, Ukraine
  • Previous team: HC Sparta Praha (Czechia U20)

Artsatbanov had outstanding numbers in the top Czech junior league last season. He posted a .938 save percentage, 1.95 goals-against average and five shutouts in 23 appearances with a record of 13-10-0 on a team that ended up winning the league championship. He represented Ukraine on the international stage as well. Artsatbanov was also invited to Boston Bruins development camp earlier this summer.

Martin’s scouting report:

“We’re excited to bring him in. He’s similar to some of the guys we’ve had in the past. He’s very athletic and can skate really well. That might sound odd for a goalie, but it’s an important thing. He’s driven to take the college route. We were super excited to meet him after a lot of Zoom calls over the summer.”

Jack Ziliotto (2005, F)

  • Hometown: Waterdown, Ont.
  • Previous team: Mississauga Chargers (OJHL)
  • College commitment: Rensselaer Polytechnic University

In his second year with the team, Ziliotto was Mississauga’s top point producer with 62 in 54 games and their highest goal scorer with 21 on the year.

Martin’s scouting report:

“Jack had a good year last year on a team that struggled a bit. We’re looking forward to him being able to do that here. He’s an experienced junior player that fills a need we have on the right side. He should be able to fit in and produce goals for us.”

Lucas Buzziol (2004, F)

  • Hometown: Mississauga, Ont.
  • Previous team: Milton Menace (OJHL)
  • College commitment: Union College

Buzziol spent the past three years with Milton of the Ontario Junior Hockey League. During his time there, he put up 43 goals and 61 assists for 104 points in 97 regular-season games.

Martin’s scouting report:

“He’s a very strong centreman and a great 200-foot player. He’s really detailed below the dots around the opponent’s net. He has a bigger body as well. I don’t want to say he’s the same player as [former Bulldog Brandon] Buhr, but he’s definitely similar with his size and strength. That’s really important to our team.”

Matias Myllykoski (2003, D)

  • Hometown: Oulu, Finland
  • Previous team: Kiekko-Espoo (U20 SM-sarja)

Myllykoski played the past two seasons in Finland’s top junior league. In 2022-23, he totaled five goals, 14 assists and 19 points in 44 games.

Martin’s scouting report:

“He’s a great skating defenceman with a very good first pass. He’s the first European import that we committed to. He’s physically in top shape. He’s a very serious athlete and very driven. I’m excited to see him. I think he’s going to fill a big need on our team. When you meet him, he just comes off as so professional. It’s like he’s been in the league for three years.”

Grayson Badger (2004, F)

  • Hometown: Hyde Park, Mass.
  • Previous team: Sioux City Musketeers (USHL)
  • College commitment: Northeastern University

In his first year of junior hockey last season, Badger started with the Waterloo Black Hawks of the USHL before moving to Sioux City to close out the year. He had two goals and five assists in 51 combined games.

Martin’s scouting report:

“I tried to get Grayson a couple years ago, but he ended up going to the USHL. He’s a competitor who can really skate. He’s a really strong kid and he’s tough to play against. He’s got some skill and I think he can get back to his U18 days when he was scoring more. He’ll be able to help us a lot.”

James Lyver (2005, F)

  • Hometown: Grafton, Mass.
  • Previous team: St. Mark’s School (USHS-Prep)
  • College commitment: Sacred Heart University

Lyver tied for second in scoring at St. Mark’s last year. He had 38 points in 29 games on 17 goals and 21 assists.

Martin’s scouting report:

“Jimmy likes to get involved. I love the way he plays. He’s aggressive, gets involved physically and has skill on top of it. He’s a younger version of [Grayson] Badger. He’s less experienced, but similar in the way that he’s very tough to play against.”

Lenny Greenberg (2005, D)

  • Hometown: El Segundo, Calif.
  • Previous team: Belmont Hill School (USHS-Prep)
  • College commitment: Sacred Heart University

Greenberg was Belmont Hill’s top-scoring defenceman last year with 27 points in 30 games on 12 goals and 15 assists.

Martin’s scouting report:

“He skated with us last year on a visit. He’s a puck-moving righthanded defenceman. who checks a lot of boxes for us. He’s a great teammate and a really good kid. He’ll fit in well with us and what we’re doing. He gets up and down the ice really easily and can dance around on his skates. I think he’s going to be a big-time player for us.”

Sam Léonard (2006, F)

  • Hometown: L’Assomption, Que.
  • Previous team: Collège Esther-Blondin Phénix (QM18AAA)
  • College commitment: St. Lawrence University

Léonard tied for third in scoring on his U18 club last year with 25 points in 28 games. His 14 goals were one back of the team lead.

Martin’s scouting report:

“Sam is a young kid full of potential. Being such a young guy still, he’s still growing and coming into his body. As things come together, he’ll be a top player in the conference down the road.”

Fischer O’Brien (2003, F)

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

O’Brien was a veteran of the Western Hockey League, having played the past three seasons with his hometown Cougars. In 2022-23, he had 12 points in 54 games.

Martin’s scouting report:

“He’s an experienced player. He’s a great teammate and I know he’s well-respected in the league and in our dressing room. That’s a big reason why we’re bringing him in. On top of that, he finished off last year really well and had a good playoff experience. We’re hoping that, with the departures of some of our more experienced players, he can add to that.”

Anthony Ip (2006, D)

  • Hometown: West Vancouver, B.C.
  • Previous team: Vancouver North West Hawks (BCEHL U18)

Ip scored two goals and added 16 assists in 32 games last year for his U18 team.

Martin’s scouting report:

“Last year, he skated with us a few times as an affiliate. He’s a smaller defenceman, but he can just fly on his skates. I think at some point, he’s going to be running our power play. He needs a bit of time for us to bring him along, but he’s a great teammate. He can skate circles around me, that’s for sure.”

Wyatt Blace (2007, F)

  • Hometown: Duncan, B.C.
  • Previous team: Pacific Coast Academy Prep (CSSHL U18)

The younger brother of Bulldogs defenceman Braden Blace, Wyatt played last season with Pacific Coast Academy where he put up eight goals, eight assists and 16 points in 31 games.

Martin’s scouting report:

“He’s come out to some skates with our team the past couple years, so we’ve seen him grow in a couple of different ways. He’s become a tall kid at a young age, while his game has also come around as well. He doesn’t look like a 16-year-old. We’re extremely excited to help him and see him grow as a junior player.”

Acquired via trade

Hayden Stavroff (2004, F)

  • Hometown: Dublin, Ohio
  • Previous team: Salmon Arm Silverbacks (BCHL)
  • College commitment: Dartmouth College

Stavroff had 14 goals and 21 assists last year in his rookie season in the league to finish with 35 points in 40 regular-season games. He also had another 11 points in 13 playoff contests.

Martin’s scouting report:

“He’s going to have a good year. Like a lot of the other players we’ve brought in, he’s hard to play against, but he’s also got some skill. Often when you’re traded, you come in with a chip on your shoulder. Everyone here is very excited to see Hayden.”


Photo credit: USHL (Badger), Dan Hickling (Lyver, Greenberg), Garrett James Photography (Stavroff)