Another edition of our junior hockey hook-up, today we discuss a new commit to the North Bay Battalion, the Barrie Colts parting ways with their head coach and the new leadership group in Swift Current.
Christian Stevens Commits to Battalion
’Tis the season for players committing to their new junior clubs. In the same week that Jan Mysak committed to the Hamilton Bulldogs, which we discussed previously, the North Bay Battalion received word of their own player commitment.
On Friday, 17-year-old Christian Stevens committed to the Battalion after the team acquired his rights from the Niagara IceDogs just a week prior. Stevens, who was originally drafted in the sixth round – 110th overall – by the Windsor Spitfires in 2018, was playing with the Whitby Fury of the OJHL where he had 26 points in 32 games so far in 2019-20. On top of that, he had a whopping 87 penalty minutes prior to the move to the Battalion.
Stevens was in his second season with the Fury, having tallied a total of 43 points in 80 regular season games. Following his commitment, Stevens has appeared in two games with the Battalion, with two penalty minutes to show for it.
While he joins a team that is at the bottom of the OHL’s Eastern Conference – with a record of 10-30-2-0 in 42 games – the move should give him a good opportunity to get some playing time at the OHL level heading into next season.
Rychel, Colts Part Ways
The Barrie Colts are in the news again, this time for parting ways with head coach Warren Rychel. Rychel, a former NHLer, took over for Dale Hawerchuk prior to the season after the latter was diagnosed with stomach cancer in August and was forced to take a leave of absence.
The Colts, who sit eighth in the OHL’s Eastern Conference, have a 16-21-2-2 record and are on the brink of missing out on the postseason. That said, the Colts became sellers at the OHL trade deadline and moved some of its key players prior to firing Rychel.
As for what the Colts will do behind the bench, assistant coach Todd Miller will be taking over the reigns on an interim basis.
“He’s been with Dale for 10 years and we’re going to give him a chance to finish up,” said Colts’ owner and president Howie Campbell. “We’re fighting like hell for a playoff spot and that’s our goal. If we figure we can get into the playoffs, we can do some damage.”
The Colts sit six points up on the Kingston Frontenacs for the final playoff spot in the conference with just over 20 games left in the season. Campbell is right, if the Colts are going to make the playoffs, they’re going to have to fight for their lives game in and game out.
Broncos Name Kaluski Captain
Jumping over to the WHL, the Swift Current Broncos have named Jaxan Kaluski as their 33rd captain in franchise history. The 20-year-old takes over for Ethan Regnier, who was moved to the Everett Silvertips.
As for Kaluski, he’s in his first season with the Broncos after stints with the Seattle Thunderbirds and the AJHL’s Lloydminster Bobcats earlier in the season. He has 13 goals and 20 points in 27 games for the Broncos since coming over from Seattle earlier this year.
As for his alternate captains, Hayden Ostir, Eric Houk, Aiden Bulych and Hendrik De Klerk will take on those duties as they will each wear an ‘A’ for the remainder of the season.
Some of the notable players who’ve worn the ‘C’ for the Broncos over their existence include current NHLers Adam Lowry, Cody Eakin and Zach Smith and former NHLer Sheldon Kennedy.
Skubel’s 100th Point
Finally, we jump to the QMJHL for a milestone night. Drummondville Voltigeurs’ forward Brandon Skubel tallied his 100th career point for the Voltigeurs with two assists in a game against the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada on Jan. 19.
The two assists gave the Voltigeurs alternate captain 20 points on the season in 30 games for his club and he finished the game with exactly 100 points for his QMJHL career – all of which has been spent with the Voltigeurs.
Skubel is currently eighth on the team in scoring this season and sits 89th in franchise history in points. Assuming these aren’t the last points for the 20-year-old this season, he will surely see himself climb this list before the end of his QMJHL career.
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.