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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Fractured Vertebrae for Mason Raymond, WAKE UP NHL, Bulldogs Celebrate 10th Anniversary,

I'm at a loss for words on the state of the NHL, and their handling of the Stanley Cup Finals. I know I have said my two bits on the Aaron Rome hit on Nathan Horton, and the subsequent fallout and suspension. At the same time, its hard not to go back to that incident, and make some comparisons to last night's hit by Johnny Boychuk on Mason Raymond. And I use the term "hit" very loosely. That wasn't a HIT. That was a bulldog/ standing pile-driver, to steal some wrestling terms. It was more wrestling than hockey. And a lot more like wrestling than Aaron Rome's hit on Horton, coming less than a second after Horton delivered his pass - that he then admired, instead of protecting himself. Watch them both and tell me what was more of a "Hockey Play"

The NHL said the lateness of the hit, combined with the injury, factored into the suspension. I am not even going to begin with the argument on how injuries sustained shouldn't factor in the length of suspensions, or whether any suspension is deserved. HOWEVER, since the NHL earlier on in this series has said that these factors come into play, lets consider how late the Boychuk hit was - Raymond NEVER touched the puck, and the injury sustained - broken vertebrae in his neck or back. Yet the NHL announced last night they won't look further into the incident. WHAT?! Raymond is out 4 to 6 months at the very least - who knows whether he will even walk correctly again, better yet ever play hockey again - but the NHL has no problem with the hit. None of the 4 officials on the ice last night were capable of making the call - whether it's BOARDING - easily a case for that based on the definition of the rules - or INTERFERENCE - again easily a case of that it was certainly SOMETHING. I'm aware it was an somewhat innocent looking play in full speed...or was that just because the puck was already gone in the other direction, it was 20 seconds into the game, and it happened to a visiting player? On the replays it is obvious to me that there was intent from Boychuk - of course not intent to break a neck or back - but intent to drive a defenseless player into the boards. In my humble opinion, the two players didn't just contact each other and "go in" to the wall.

Boychuk on the replay appears to DRIVE Raymond in. Raymond's head is between his legs, he's bent at the waist, and Boychuk places his stick over his neck/back and forces him in. Of course a neck and back isn't meant to take that impact when it's bent that way. Of course it's expecially not meant to take that impact with nowhere for the head/neck or back to go to release the pressure of the impact - the broken neck or back vertebrae is a result of the head being restrained between Boychuk's legs. I am not a doctor - but that's my guess, what's yours?

So in summary - the NHL has taught us this series that stepping up at the defending blue line and finishing your check on a player who had the puck less than a second before, who is admiring his pass and isn't defending himself is NOT ALLOWED. It's a major suspension, the biggest in the history of the finals. At the same time, driving a defenseless player back first in the boards with a wrestling move and breaking his neck or back IS ALLOWED.

Is this the way you want hockey to be headed? I'm disgusted. And I'm hoping for the best for Mason Raymond. I don't think he'll be back in the building tomorrow, a la Nathan Horton, handing out a special jacket.

Alberni Valley Bulldogs Celebrate their 10th Anniversary

The Alberni Valley Bulldogs, a member of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) are proud to celebrate their 10th Anniversary of Junior A hockey in Port Alberni.


Ten years has gone by incredibly fast in the short tenure of the Alberni Valley Bulldogs Junior A Hockey team in our community. Once considered a long shot to ever have a team, the Alberni Valley franchise is now considered one of the premier franchises in the BCHL. Over 70 Bulldog alumni have gone on to university or college hockey and more importantly most of these have finished degrees or diplomas. Many alumni have had the opportunity to play professionally and just this past year two have signed NHL contracts. Few communities support their teams like the Alberni Valley. The Bulldogs are the envy of most teams due to their incredible community support. Without ongoing community support in the form of people in the stands and sponsors helping out, teams don‟t survive. It was not an easy journey for the Bulldogs to end up in Port Alberni and not one that could likely get repeated in today‟s economic reality. There were numerous people in the valley who had hoped for years to get a Junior A team in our community but the obstacles were many.
First came the new Alberni Valley Multiplex project ;lead by Arena Society President Wendy Ewing and her Board of people such as Karen Mallon, Ron Paulson, Debbie Bratt, Ian Bratt and Vice President Tom McEvay. With the completion of the new Alberni Valley Multiplex in 2001 the dream of a Junior A franchise was in reach.

Once Ewing and her committee had the ear of the BCHL they were able to ask the question “what would it take to get approval to move the Bulldogs to the Alberni Valley?” In an interesting “Wizard of Oz” type scenario the league put what they likely thought were insurmountable criteria on the table – 1000 season ticket holders and $100,000 in Corporate Sponsorship. The governors, however, didn‟t know Ewing or the tenacity of the people of the Alberni Valley. Ewing and her team of volunteers such as Ron Paulson, Bruce McDonald, Les Dorion and Alf Thompson eventually exceeded both of these targets. When the Board still didn‟t give approval a flurry of calls and last minute pressure from the Port Alberni mob won the day and approval was granted and the rest is history.

The 2011-2012 season celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Alberni Valley Bulldogs. The team has gone through ups and downs, wins and losses and has had ownership, coach, staff and player changes throughout the years. The only one constant that has always been here is the community and the fans. The Bulldogs still stand as one of the most desired Junior A franchises in the league and owe it to the unconditional community support.

For most of the players who come to the valley their time in Alberni creates some of the fondest memories of their young lives. For many, it is a period that shapes their future and for some it is a time that helps them achieve the dream of a university hockey scholarship and maybe even ultimately a career in professional hockey. When they leave us we follow their lives with interest and pride because to us they will always be an Alberni Valley Bulldog.

The Bulldogs are also more than the individual players who play here. The Bulldogs are a source of pride, an opportunity for people to come together to socialize, to laugh, to cheer and to sometimes commiserate in disappointment. The team is our team in good times and in bad times. The players will all tell anyone who listens that the unconditional support of the fans and the community is the most incredible feeling for them. It is the same feeling we want in each of our families and in everything we do as a community. It is a feeling that builds community and helps us define who we are as citizens of the Alberni Valley. As we mark their 10th year, it is time to recognize and celebrate the contributions our Bulldogs teams have made to the Alberni Valley.

Accomplishments/Quick Facts

 Over 70 players to the NCAA and Canadian Universities
 Several Players have gone on to play professional
 Have raised $100,000 for various charities
 Involved in Breast Cancer, Variety, Raise a Reader and numerous other Charities
 Bulldogs volunteer numerous hours in local schools
 Over 200 successful classes taken at North Island College

Message from the Mayor of Port Alberni Ken McRae:

“The Alberni Valley Bulldogs are an important part of our community, offering affordable, family-friendly entertainment to thousands of people each year. Their contributions over the last ten years have touched the lives of many people and had a positive impact on both our local economy and social well-being. The entire organizations, including the players and management consistently dedicate their time and resources to numerous charitable causes and mentorship programs with youth.”

The Future

The future of the team is very bright with the returning core of 16 players. With a top line of Casey Bailey, Josh Mitchell and Dylan Nowakowski all returning to the lineup the Bulldogs expect them to be one of the top lines in the league. Add in 3rd year player Tyler Berkholtz , Captain Trent Dorais and Sawyer Mick the team will have plenty of physicality and team toughness . The speed of Justin Morello and Lars Hepso will add even more depth and creativity to the offense. On defense the team returns four puck moving skilled defenseman in Kenney Morrison, Connor Varley, Tanner Hicks and Marley Keca. In goal the team will have newly signed collegiate goalie Max Fenkell and returning up and comer goalie Kiefer Giroux. With a solid core of players returning and key recruits being added the Bulldogs look to be at the top of their conference.

Message from the Bulldogs Head Coach Paul Esdale

“We learned a lot from last year on what type of team we want to be and what it takes to win in the new BCHL. Although we went through some growing pains last year we really believe we have set ourselves up for success this season and beyond. We will have a very competitive, highly skilled fast team this season. The recruiting class for this season is the best we have had in years and we look forward to securing these players to the roster throughout the summer. With the returning core and the new recruits the team will have a fresh new look and will resemble a college team. We will play with high speed and skill and put pressure on teams. We will forecheck hard and play at both ends of the rink. The team will be exciting and entertaining to watch and I know people will be impressed with the high level of skill the new recruits will bring. With the addition of these young players and the returning core the future of hockey in the Alberni Valley is very bright.”

Season Tickets

The Bulldogs would like to thank all current season ticket holders and congratulate all 10 year season ticket holders. The Bulldogs were 4th highest in average fan attendance last season in the BCHL and want to push to be the leaders of the BCHL. Prime Seats are still available for the 2011-2012 season and people can setup personal meetings with Director of Business Operations Ron Paulson for individual seat selection. Ron Paulson can be contacted at 12507354115or email at

Hockey School

The Bulldogs will once again be hosting their annual hockey school from August 15th to 19th. Age ranges from 6 to 15. The hockey school will be instructed by Head Coach Paul Esdale and past and present Bulldog players. To register, contact the Bulldogs office at 12507234412 or email Ron Paulson at ron@albernivalleybulldogs. There are limited spots for the hockey school so don‟t wait too long to be part of this fun learning environment!

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