Although it was significantly shorter than usual, with no playoffs at the end, the 2020-21 B.C. Hockey League season still provided an important opportunity for several Cowichan Valley products to show what they can do in the junior A ranks.
Five players who started their minor hockey careers with the Cowichan Valley or Kerry Park associations skated for BCHL teams this year, all making an impact with their respective clubs.
Duncan’s own Kahlil Fontana played with his hometown Cowichan Valley Capitals, getting into 17 games and finishing second on the team with 10 points on three goals and seven assists, while racking up eight penalty minutes. Fontana, who played with the Victoria Grizzlies in 2019-20, is eligible to return to the Caps for his 20-year-old season this fall.
Fellow Duncan product Luciano Wilson was a force for the Penticton Vees, finishing tied for fourth in the league with 29 points and tied for third with 14 goals. Wilson led the Vees in goals, tied for second in assists, and tied for first in penalty minutes. The former hometown hero was traded to Penticton in the 2020 offseason after leading the Caps in points in 2019-20 and scoring the deciding goal in their first-round playoff series against the Powell River Kings. Wilson is committed to play at Minnesota State-Mankato for 2021-22.
Jojo Tanaka-Campbell, who grew up in Mill Bay and starred for Shawnigan Lake School teams from 2015 to 2019, played in all 20 games for the Vernon Vipers, finishing third on the team with 15 points on six goals and nine assists. The Canadian Junior Hockey League’s 2020-19 Academic Player of the Year is committed to Yale University for 2021-22.
The Alberni Valley Bulldogs featured two Cowichan Valley products in defencemen Braden Blace and Matt Baird. Blace, from Crofton, skated in 19 games and finished second among Bulldogs defencemen with 11 points on one goal and 10 assists.
Baird, from Cowichan Bay, got into 13 games and tallied four points on one goal and three helpers. Baird was the captain of the junior B Kerry Park Islanders for their shortened 2020-21 season, and he was joined on the Bulldogs roster by Isles netminder and Kamloops native Bailey Monteith, who had three losses in four appearances, along with a 3.25 goals-against average and .904 save percentage.