What started as a group of 80 Alberni Valley Bulldogs hopefuls back on Monday, August 21st has finally been whittled down to the 23 players who will form the team when the 2017/18 BCHL regular season begins in Nanaimo on Friday, September 9th.
The opening night roster includes five players returning from last year’s squad as well as four veteran offseason pick-ups and 14 rookies.
MEET THE 2017/18 ALBERNI VALLEY BULLDOGS
#30 John Hawthorne (98) – John spent the 2016/17 season with the VIJHL’s Nanaimo Buccaneers and backstopped the team to a third-place regular season finish. In the process, he posted 20 wins, a 2.71 goals-against average and .915 save-percentage.
#31 Colten Lancaster (98) – Entering his third BCHL season, Colten was acquired in a summer trade with the Merritt Centennials. He was one of the top 18-year old goaltenders in the league last season statistically, finishing with a 3.04 goals-against and .913 save-percentage.
#2 Sami Pharaon (99) – The Vancouver product is back in BC after spending last season at the Albany Academy in upstate New York. Sami previously suited up with the BCMML’s Okanagan Rockets and the Midget Prep team at Pursuit of Excellence.
#4 Mitch Oliver (97) – Mitch is the Bulldogs’ most recent trade addition, joining on from the AJHL’s Bonnyville Pontiacs where he had 28 points in 48 games last season. He spent the previous two seasons with the Vernon Vipers, suiting up in 117 BCHL games.
#5 Graham Rutledge (98) – A highly sought-after recruit from Nova Scotia, Graham spent the last three seasons at the Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. His six goals and 25 points last season on the New England prep circuit were both career highs.
#6 Ezra Paddock (99) – A local Port Alberni product, Ezra has joined the team full-time after playing 10 games with the Bulldogs as an affiliate during the 2015/16 season. He spent the 2016/17 campaign with the VIJHL’s Oceanside Generals.
#7 Tyson Slater (97) – The Courtenay product was picked up in an offseason trade with Melville of the SJHL. The former Comox Glacier King dressed in 39 games with the Trail Smoke Eaters as a BCHL rookie last season, scoring five goals and 10 points.
#8 Darren Rizzolo (98) – The third-year blueliner is back in the fold after joining the Bulldogs early last season in a trade from Vernon. He scored once and added seven assists in 49 games last season, and played his 100th BCHL game in Alberni’s final regular season contest.
#24 Grayson Valente (00) – At 17 years old, Grayson is the youngest member of the Alberni Valley blueline. He spent the 2016/17 campaign with the BC Major Midget League’s Greater Vancouver Canadians, where he scored three times and added 18 assists in 40 games.
#27 Connor Welsh (97) – Connor has returned for a second year with the Bulldogs following a rookie campaign that saw the Halifax product score five goals and total 21 points in 57 regular season games.
#9 Brad Ong (99) – Brad joins the Bulldogs as the CSSHL’s all-time leading scorer in the Midget Prep division after netting 45 points in 30 games with the Burnaby Winter Club last season. He also picked up a goal in his BCHL debut as an affiliate player with the Langley Rivermen.
#11 Ryan Steele (97) -The Stratford, PEI product is back in the Alberni Valley after a successful rookie season in the BCHL that saw him post 10 goals and 28 points last year, both good for top spot among returning Bulldogs skaters.
#12 Jackson Doucet (99) – Jackson joins the Bulldogs from the Midget Prep team at the Shawnigan Lake School, where he finished among the CSSHL leaders in goals with 25 and points with 49. He has suited up in three BCHL games as an affiliate player with Cowichan Valley and Penticton.
#13 – Christian Simeone (97) – Christian is making his BCHL debut as a 20-year old following a summer trade with the Springfield Jr. Blues of the North American Hockey League, where he scored four times and picked up 14 points in 35 regular season games.
#15 Michael Sacco (99) – The diminutive forward from New York led the PAL Junior Islanders’ U18 squad in scoring last season with 12 goals and 35 points in 21 regular season games and totaled 97 points in 70 games with the Islanders over three seasons.
#16 Gregg Lee (98) – Gregg is one of three Bulldogs recruits heading north from the Anaheim Junior Ducks U18 program, where the two-way forward scored once and added 13 assists in 32 regular season games.
#17 Cayden Kraus (99) – The longest-tenured Bulldog, Cayden has returned for a third season in the Alberni Valley. The Manitoba product set career highs last season with 15 goals and 24 points after suiting up in all 58 of the team’s regular season games.
#21 Cole Poliziani (97) – Cole was picked up in a trade with Chilliwack after advancing to the Fred Page Cup Finals and the Western Canada Cup last season. He scored 14 goals and totaled 27 points during the regular season as a BCHL rookie.
#22 Paul Selleck (98) – The Laguna Hills, California product enjoyed a breakout season offensively with his Anaheim U18 Ducks squad last season, leading the US-based Tier 1 Elite Hockey League in scoring with 50 points.
#25 Isaac Tonkin-Palmer (00) – A Bulldogs’ AP last season who made his Junior A debut against the Nanaimo Clippers, Isaac also led the Midget Prep team at the Pacific Coast Academy in goals (12) and points (21) in 27 games.
#26 Julian Benner (98) – The Calgary product joins the team from the KIJHL’s Creston Valley Thunder Cats, where he scored 15 goals and totaled 35 points in 34 games last season for the BC Junior B bronze medalists.
#28 Brandon Bergado (98) – The third member of the Anaheim U18 team now set to play in the Alberni Valley, Brandon doubled his offensive output in his second season with the Ducks and finished the year with 26 points in 29 regular season games.
#29 Keaton Mastrodonato (00) – The former North Island Silvertips forward played 10 games as a Bulldogs’ affiliate player last season while also leading his Major Midget squad in scoring with 22 goals and 40 points in 37 regular season games.
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