BCJALL Season Preview: New Westminster Salmonbellies
NEW WESTMINSTER SALMONBELLIES
2018 RECORD: 15-6, 2nd Place
2018 GOAL DIFFERENTIAL: +72
2019 PROJECTED RECORD: 13-8, 3rd Place
Coming off a bitterly disappointing loss in the BCJALL Finals, the ‘Bellies will get back to work like they often have. The goal for the club is still the same: to top the Coquitlam Adanacs and win the 2019 BCJALL title. And like seasons past, there’s no reason not to expect New West to be in the picture for a Minto Cup berth.
The club loses a number of quality players, but the depth and quality of the players are right up there with the product they’ve always put out on the floor. Players like the 2018 BCJALL Rookie of the Year, Will Malcom, return with another offseason of work to build on what was done last season. While they did end up losing to the Adanacs, they were up 2-1 in that series with a pair of crucial wins on the road. Chalk it up to inexperience or luck, New West wasn’t far off last season and it’s hard to believe they will take a major step back in the standings.
One key to watch is how the ‘Bellies goaltenders perform. Gone is Erik Kratz, who played an astounding 1160 minutes in the regular season and another 487 minutes in the playoffs. Replacing that production will be crucial to the club’s success, and the first man up to try and do so is Keegan Melenychuk. He only played a handful of minutes for the Jr. A club last season, but showed well in spot duty. Vying for time will be Johnny Edin, who has had a lot of previous success. Between the two, you have a solid 1-2 punch that should be able to keep the team competitive over the course of the season. Depending on how the team performs leading up to the trade deadline, you could see an Eastern import or acquisition from here in BC to provide some stability or experience.
Bolstering the backend will be Patrick Shoemay, last season’s defender of the year, and Mack Burns, both of whom returned in an offseason deal with Burnaby. Their veteran savvy will help hold down the fort. The ‘Bellies have also been active in bringing in players from back East, and rumours are that they will dip into that pool again this season in the search for reinforcements. You can expect a bit of a drop-off, but can still count on the ‘Bellies to be in the playoff picture when push comes to shove.