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Nikitin, Warrener, Cranston named NAPA Auto Parts 3 Stars of the Week

Photo credit: Island Images (Nikitin), Liz Wolter (Warrener, Cranston)

Chilliwack Chiefs goaltender Vladimir Nikitin, Trail Smoke Eaters defenceman Ethan Warrener and Surrey Eagles forward Caden Cranston have been named the NAPA Auto Parts 3 Stars of the Week.

1st Star – Vladimir Nikitin (G) – Chilliwack Chiefs

Nikitin made three appearances last week, earning the win in all three, including his first shutout in the BCHL, and finishing the week with a .980 save percentage and a 0.43 goals-against average. He capped things off by scoring a shorthanded empty-net goal, the first in the league since the 2022 preseason.

The Ottawa Senators draft pick notched his shutout in last Wednesday’s 3-0 victory over the Nanaimo Clippers. Nikitin stopped all 18 shots he faced to lead his team to the win.

On Friday night, the 2005-born netminder did not get the start, but was called into action to start the third period in what was a 4-4 tie with the Cowichan Valley Capitals. Nikitin entered the game and stopped all nine shots he faced, allowing the Chiefs to score the game-winner and earn the 5-4 victory.

He was back in the starter’s crease on Saturday, this time against another Island opponent, the Alberni Valley Bulldogs. The Kazakhstan product made 22 stops on 23 shots in a 4-1 win, but his puck-stopping prowess was not the biggest story of his night. With the Bulldogs goalie pulled and under three minutes to play in the third period, Nikitin picked up a loose puck and fired it the length of the ice and into the net to score the insurance marker. It was the first goalie goal in the BCHL since former Surrey Eagles goaltender Michael Sochan potted an empty-netter in the preseason on Sep. 16, 2022. Nikitin was named first star of the game for his heroics.

He has a win in four straight appearances and owns a record of 12-3-3 to go with a .902 save percentage and a 2.63 goals-against average, which is fifth best in the BCHL.

2nd Star – Ethan Warrener (D) – Trail Smoke Eaters

Warrener posted three goals and three assists last week for six points in two games, including his first hat trick in the BCHL.

The Smokies captain opened the scoring in Friday’s road game against the West Kelowna Warriors, then potted his second of the game later on in the first period to tie the game 3-3. With Trail down two goals entering the third, Warrener scored his team’s first goal of the period, then assisted on the tying marker to force overtime in an eventual 6-5 Smoke Eaters win, finishing with four points on the night.

On Saturday, Warrener registered two second-period assists, including one on the power play, in Trail’s 4-1 victory over the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.

The 20-year-old Calgary, Alta. native is the Smokies top-scoring blueliner with 29 points in 44 games, which puts him in a tie for 12th among all BCHL defencemen. His 10 goals from the back end are tied for sixth among league d-men.

3rd Star – Caden Cranston (F) – Surrey Eagles

Another week, another pile of points for the BCHL’s leading scorer. Cranston put up seven points in two games last week on three goals and four assists.

The 19-year-old had a five-point outing on Friday in Surrey’s 6-3 win against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs. After not being involved in the Eagles first goal of the game, Cranston got in on five straight to help Surrey to an important win. He assisted on a game-tying goal in the first, scored a go-ahead marker in the second, then helped his team pull away in the third with another goal and two assists. His five points were the most he has registered in a BCHL game, while all three of his assists were primary.

The following night, Cranston had a goal and an assist in a tight-checking 3-1 victory over the visiting Nanaimo Clippers, his third straight multi-point game and the 23rd of his season.

The Merrimack College commit leads the BCHL in scoring with 75 points in 43 games. His 47 assists are the most in the league, while his 28 goals are tied for second.

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Honourable mentions:

Penticton Vees F Billy Renfrew: 2GP – 4G – 1A – 5PTS
Penticton Vees F James Fisher: 2GP – 4A – 4PTS
Powell River Kings F Anthony Lucarelli: 2GP – 2G – 4A – 6PTS
Powell River Kings F Anthony Yu: 2GP – 1G – 4A – 5PTS
Powell River Kings F Simone Dadiรจ: 2GP – 4A – 4PTS
Powell River Kings F Ryan Arnold: 2GP – 3G – 3PTS
Surrey Eagles F Aaron Schwartz: 2GP – 2G – 3A – 5PTS
West Kelowna Warriors F Callum Hughes: 2GP – 2G – 3A – 5PTS
Langley Rivermen F Ryan Schelling: 2GP – 2G – 2A – 4PTS
Langley Rivermen F Logan Morrell: 2GP – 2G – 2A – 4PTS
Trail Smoke Eaters F Jason Stefanek: 2GP – 2G – 2A – 4PTS
Prince George Spruce Kings F Killian McGregor-Bennett: 2GP – 3G – 3PTS
Vernon Vipers F Isaac Tremblay: 2GP – 3G – 3PTS