Sports

BCHL Showcase comes back to Chilliwack

The 2013-14 BCHL season will start in Chilliwack, with the BCHL Showcase returning to the Fraser Valley Sept. 6-8.

The first-ever BCHL Showcase was held in Chilliwack last year, with 16 teams playing two games apiece over three hockey-packed days.

The event attracted more than 200 National Hockey League and collegiate scouts, and feedback was almost universally positive.

“It’s definitely high on our priority list to come out again,” said Harvard Crimson head coach Ted Donato. “We have a lot of respect for the BCHL and we’re confident will find more players we want to bring into our program.”

Two Chilliwack Chiefs, Luke Esposito and Philip Zielonka, committed to Harvard next season, largely based on what Donato saw at the showcase.

“The BCHL has a rich history of preparing players for college scholarships and the potential of a professional hockey career,” Vancouver Canucks scout Thomas Gradin added. “To see all the players in the same place at one time is a great opportunity for scouts and hockey administrators.”

After the success of last year, BCHL commissioner John Grisdale called it a ‘no-brainer’ to bring the showcase back to Chilliwack.

“Having it in a location that provides the opportunity for scouts and teams to get in and out with minimal cost and time was really important,” he said at a Wednesday morning press conference. “The inaugural showcase surpassed our most optimistic expectations and the response we received from players, coaches and scouts was overwhelmingly positive.”

A financial impact report prepared after last year’s event showed a total economic impact of between $540,000 and $750,000 for the City of Chilliwack, with local hotels and restaurants netting $170,000.

As they did last year, Chiefs president Glen Ringdal and former mayor Clint Hames will co-chair the event.

“This year we anticipate attracting a lot more fans from outside the Chilliwack area, which will only add to the economic impact,” Ringdal said.

Harvey Smyl was all smiles at the press conference, knowing he’s being spared an extra bus trip. His top priority is sending players on to post-secondary stops, and he considers the showcase an essential tool.

“It’s the perfect scenario  for the players because of our location, and the ability to get 200-plus scouts in our building is just incredible,” he said. “Our building is one of the most beautiful in the country. We have great fans and a great group of people organizing the showcase. I think John (Grisdale) would agree he couldn’t be happier to have this group running it.”

Just like last year, each team will play one home and one away game at the showcase, with results counting in the regular season standings.

Ticket prices and other information, including a schedule, will be released at a later date.

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