The top players from the Pacific Junior Hockey League and Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League will be showcased in a new-look All-Star Game this Sunday at the Ladner Leisure Centre.
The Delta Ice Hawks will be hosting the game slated to get underway at 2:45 p.m. It’s part of a new partnership between the two junior “B” leagues that also saw a Prospects Game played on Jan. 12 in Nanaimo.
The old PJHL All-Star Game format saw the conferences play against each other and player selection being somewhat evenly distributed with at least one representative from each of the 12 teams. That is no longer the case as the PJHL will suit-up the best team possible that will include a whopping seven members from the defending PJHL champion North Vancouver Wolf Pack who have lost just once in 35 games.
“It’s something that came together rather quickly and by September we made it happen,” said PJHL chair and Richmond Sockeyes co-owner Doug Paterson. “Both games have been somewhat of a struggle for us and this certainly makes them much more exciting. It will be the best of the best from our league.”
It’s the first time the Ice Hawks have ever hosted an All-Star Game and one of two big junior hockey events coming to the Ladner Leisure Centre over the next 14 months. In 2021 it’s the PJHL’s turn to host the Cyclone Taylor Cup Junior “B” Provincial Championships and Delta’s bid to host the tournament has been approved by the league board of governors.
That came after team owner and president Eduard Ephstein has already had a favourable meeting with City of Delta officials and other arena user groups to extend the ice in the LLC into early April to accommodate the event. The official word is expected to come over the next few weeks when BC Hockey announces sites for its 2021 Provincial Championships.
The Ice Hawks will also be participating in the four-team tournament as the hosts, joining champions from the PJHL, VIJHL and the Kootenay International leagues.
Representing the Ice Hawks on the PJHL All-Star Team is captain Mark Epshtein who leads the club in scoring with 20 goals, one shy of his career high in his final year of junior.
Alex Suprynowicz, who spent three seasons as an Ice Hawk, is among the seven Wolf Pack players named to the PJHL team. Here is the rest of the roster:
Goaltenders: Cale Dolan – Grandview and Bradley Cooper – North Vancouver.
Defencemen:Jacob Callas – North Vancouver, Nathan Haaksma – North Vancouver, Braden Warburton – Langley, Jarod Yau – Grandview, Ty Pickering – Aldergrove and Sahvan Gill – Abbotsford.
Forwards: Lucas Barker – North Vancouver, Dominic Davis – North Vancouver, Jacob Fournier – North Vancouver, Ryleigh Anderson – Richmond, Craig Schouten – Richmond, Noah Kelly – Richmond, Michael Martino – Grandview, Casey Whintors – Langley, Jayden Genberg – Ridge Meadows and Tetsuya Prior – Ridge Meadows.