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Friday, December 9, 2011

Rick Lapointe Day 1 - Scouts out in full force

Hopkins off to a hot start for host Victoria

If you want to know the best place to buy a coffee at a Vancouver Island hockey rink, just ask Victoria's Gord Bridges or Greg Batters. During the hockey season, their second homes are Island rinks as they search out talent as scouts for their Western Hockey League teams.

Bridges has been working for the Lethbridge Hurricanes for five years while Batters has had a 16-year tenure with the Kamloops Blazers.

Bridges and Batters, along with a host of other scouts were at the Ian Stewart Complex on Thursday, attending the Rick Lapointe Memorial bantam triple-A tournament. The scouts were assessing 14-year-old talent that could be drafted in next year's WHL draft.

"The No. 1 thing that I'm looking for in a hockey player is his ability to skate,'' said Bridges, who is the father of former Victoria Salmon Kings goaltender Bryan Bridges. "To me, size doesn't really matter, as the smaller guys can play at all levels.

"I mainly scout the Island and I do take some trips to the mainland. With good quality teams at this tournament, there will be more scouts here.

"The second thing I'm looking for is that a player goes hard for the entire game and he doesn't take a shift or two off. Sometimes the guys will play differently at a tournament so I like to see them perform in a regular-season game when they don't know scouts are watching them.''

Bryan Bridges played five seasons in the WHL, winning a Memorial Cup with the Kootenay Ice before heading to the Seattle Thunderbirds. After a stint in the ECHL with various teams, including the Salmon Kings, he is now playing senior hockey in Lloydminster.

Batters, the former Victoria Cougar and Moose Jaw Warrior, is also the commissioner of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League.

"The main thing that I'm looking for is the compete level,'' said Batters. "We are drafting kids who we hope will help us three years from now.

If they don't have that compete level now, they will not have it in three years.''

One of the top picks in this year's bantam draft is expected to be Matt Barzal from the Burnaby Winter Club. His team is not attending the eight-team tournament.

OVERTIME: The host Victoria Racquet Club Kings opened with a 9-2 win over the Coquitlam Chiefs before dropping a 8-1 decision to Pursuit of Excellence from Kelowna. Seafair from Richmond also has a 1-1 record after beating Team Seattle 8-2 and losing 5-3 to the Calgary Royals. In the other game, the Abbotsford Hawks tripped up Team Seattle 5-1.

The tournament resumes today with games at Ian Stewart, Pearkes and Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre.

The banquet is 5: 30 p.m. at the Memorial Centre with guest speaker Geoff Courtnall. The teams will then watch the WHL game between the Victoria Royals and the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

This weekend I will be tweeting live from the Prince Albert Bantam "AA" tournament.  The tournament will feature 20 of the 23 Saskatchewan teams.  Favorites are likely to be the North East Wolfpack (11-1-0), Balgonie Prairie Storm (10-0-0) and Melville (5-4-0).  Other teams such as the Saskatoon Stallions, Sask Valley and Weyburn could make some noise.  Stay tuned through out the weekend for updates on the top talent in the province of Saskatchewan.

The Sherwood Park Flyers of the AMBHL have soared up our rankings this season, losing just twice in 18 games so far this season.  Here is an article by Shane Jones on the success of the Flyers so far this season.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

what is the world is your obsession with melville? very little depth, ZERO grit and soft. Its actually getting ridiculous that you keep trying to make them out to be something they aren't. They are one game over 500 and you just keep trumpeting them. its weird.