The Beaver Valley Nitehawks are trying to make all the right moves heading into the heat of summer.
The Hawks traded forward Luke Recchi, 18, to the Chase Heat earlier this week, and announced the commitment of Marcus McEachern, an 18-year-old forward from Edmonton.
Recchi scored six goals in 32 games for the Nitehawks, and B.V. General Manager Jamie Cominotto said the decision to move the Kamloops native to the nearby Okanagan Division team was in his best interests.
“It’s just a better fit for him,” said Cominotto. “Recchi was a great kid, and it was hard because he was well-liked in the room, and you never know what you’re going to replace him with. I think Chase is just going to offer Luke a great opportunity to contribute and be a leader.”
McEachern, a physical and skilled forward, played for the South Side Athletic Club (SSAC) Midget AAA last season, where he netted 10 goals and 17 points in 34 games, and accumulated an impressive 80 minutes in penalties.
McEachern recently played for Team Canada’s Jr. Men’s inline hockey team at the World Roller Games in Barcelona, Spain, where Canada lost to Spain, 4-2, in the bronze medal game on July 4.
“Every camp our people watched him at, he was noticeable and carried the play whenever he was on the ice,” said Cominotto.
The Alberta native joins West Kootenay commits Jarred Macasso, Dayton Nelson, and Zach Park, who stood out last season as affiliate players for B.V. and were committed to immediately after the Nitehawks Spring Camp.
Cominotto expects a healthy group of players to return, yet the process is always uncertain, given the inherent dynamics of junior hockey.
“We should have close to 10 or 12 veterans back, maybe more, and six to eight ‘D’ back. But it all depends on who is going to make Junior A and who isn’t.”
As anticipated, a number of B.V. veterans are moving on. According to the B.V. GM, Hawks Captain Paul Leroux signed with the Edmunston Blizzard of the Maritime Jr. A Hockey League, Nolan Corrado committed to the Notre Dame Hounds and goalie Noah Decottignies will vie for a spot with the Weyburn Red Wings of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL).
“We have a good nucleus coming back,” said Cominotto. “We expect the players to grow from last year. Last year was more about being patient and teaching players systems and how to play in our league. This year, we expect a lot of the teaching to come from within the group, because the experience level has changed.”
With Decottignies moving on, the return of last year’s back up Saran Virdee is also questionable. Cominotto also liked the talent that appeared between the pipes at the spring camp and is not yet too concerned who will fill that void.
“We were happy with the guys that we had at spring camp, and there’s a couple guys coming into Main Camp to push for spots, and the bottom line is you have to stop the puck. We just can’t commit to guys that can’t.”
Waiting to see what shakes down out of the Junior A main camps is also an option, but, not one Cominotto depends on.
“That always seems to be what teams are waiting for, but I think Noah (Decottignies) proved last year that you don’t need to do that. He was a really solid goalie for us last year, and it just shows how much goalies learn throughout the year. His playoff run, to be honest, was unbelievable.”
As an 18-year-old, Decottignies backstopped the Nitehawks to the Kootenay Conference final, and posted a 9-6 playoff record with a 2.10 GAA, a .927 save percentage, and two shut outs.
The Beaver Valley Nitehawks Main Camp goes Aug. 29-31.