Island junior hockey all-stars face off Sunday in Campbell River

The Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League boasts an alumni list that should be the envy of any Junior B league anywhere. It includes current and former NHLers Jamie Benn, Jordie Benn, Adam Cracknell, Matt Irwin, Ryan O’Byrne, and numerous eventual WHL/BCHL juniors, NCAA collegians and AHL/ECHL pros.

The best of the latest generation to roll through the league will be on display Sunday at the 2019 VIJHL all-star game, 4 p.m. at Rod Brind’Amour Arena in Campbell River. (The arena is named in honour of the Stanley Cup champion from Campbell River, although he didn’t come through the VIJHL.)

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League-leading Evan Easton of the Kerry Park Islanders, who has 50 points in 37 games, and Booker Chacalias of the Victoria Cougars, who tops the VIJHL in goals with 22, lead the South Team.

Kerry Park has three of the top-five league scorers, with Tanner Tiel and Brandon McClintick joining Islanders teammate Easton on the South roster.

The South blueliners are Thomas Spink, Kevan McBean, Dawson Blanchette, Evan Abgrall, Ryan Okino and Jake Wilhelm, with the goaltending slots awarded to Owen Sikkes, Charles-Oliver LePage and Rett Rook.

Mike Dyck of the Campbell River Storm leads the North Division in scoring with 41 points and was rewarded with a spot on the North Team for the all-star game in his home rink.

The North’s blueline features Kyle Jennings, Zackary Evans, Lucas Patton, Scott Rademaker, Cole Slaney and Logan Cursley with the netminders being Jake Sweet, Aaron de Kok and Matthias Smith.

With Campbell River leading the league at 26-9-3, the Storm coaching staff will guide the North all-stars Sunday. The Cougars lead their division at 24-10-4, so the Victoria staff will be on the South Team bench.

Meanwhile, the VIJHL top-prospects game is scheduled for next Sunday at 3:30 p.m. at Pearkes Arena in Saanich. The league’s top players, ages 16 to 18, will be in that showcase and hoping to catch the eye of BCHL coaches and scouts.

“Our league has lot of parity with several talented kids with aspirations to go to the next level,” said Saanich Braves head coach Sam Waterfield, who will guide the South team in the prospects game next week.

Waterfield noted the process has begun with Josh Zary of the Nanaimo Buccaneers being picked up by the Alberni Valley Bulldogs of the BCHL, while Buccaneers goalie Blake Wood has seen time this season in the BCHL with the Cowichan Valley Capitals.

Sunday’s VIJHL all-star game will feature more of the league’s older players who are putting up good numbers.

“It’s a nice recognition for our 19-20 age group,” said Waterfield, who last season guided the Braves to their first VIJHL league playoff final appearance since 1996.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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