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Alberni Valley Bulldogs start the season with a pair of wins

The Alberni Valley Bulldogs have kicked off the 2018-19 season with a pair of wins.

The new Bulldogs roster, which features 10 returning players, three summer trade acquisitions and 10 rookies, travelled to Cowichan and Nanaimo this weekend for their first two games of the BCHL season.

Saturday’s game against the Cowichan Valley Capitals ended in the first shootout in BCHL history. The Bulldogs grabbed the 3-2 win after forward Jackson Doucet netted the only goal of the shootout.

The Bulldogs added a 2-1 win against the Nanaimo Clippers on Sunday, earning the team first place in the Island Division. Goaltender John Hawthorne, with a perfect first BCHL shootout, came away with a 0.952 save percentage and an honourable mention for Player of the Week in the BCHL.

Before opening night, the Bulldogs named their leadership group for the 2018-19 season. Forward Tyler Vanuden, who is entering his second season with the Bulldogs, has been named the team captain. Following his trade to the Bulldogs last October, he scored 19 points in 34 season games and earned an ‘A’ on his sweater after the January trade deadline.

“Tyler is a positive, energetic guy who loves the game and shows up every day ready to set the tone with his work ethic and enthusiasm,” said Bulldogs head coach Matt Hughes in a release. “He has the respect of everybody in our dressing room as well as our coaching and training staff, and we’re excited to see him take on more leadership responsibility in his 20-year old season.”

Defencemen Spencer Hora, Darren Rizzolo and Marcus Walter have been named as alternate captains. Rizzolo is the longest-tenured player on the roster, having suited up in 95 games dating back to the 2016-17 campaign, while Hora was acquired in a January trade from the West Kelowna Warriors and Walter joined the team in June from the NAHL’s Springfield Junior Blues.

You can check out the new-look Bulldogs on Friday, Sept. 14 during the team’s home opener against the Victoria Grizzlies. Puck drop will take place at 7 p.m. and the team will be holding a “tailgate party” outside of the arena before the game.