The Langley Rivermen pulled off a major trade last week, sending a pair of forwards to the Cowichan Valley Capitals in exchange for a forward and a defenceman.
The junior A hockey club acquired Colton Kehler and Charlie Pelnik, with Brendan Gulka and Darien Craighead going the other way.
This is Pelnik’s second stint with Langley as he was traded away in the off-season.
“I think this a pretty fair deal for both teams,” said Head Coach and GM Bobby Henderson. “Losing Jake Zeleznikar on the back-end for the season, we needed to get a defensemen. We have some familiarity with Charlie. He was a great teammate last year, he’s big, skates well, but the biggest thing he brings is leadership in dressing room. He adds a veteran presence that will help our young defensemen.”
“It’s nice to be back,” said Pelnik. “I missed the old teammates and looking forward to seeing them again and meeting the new guys.”
Kehler is in second year in the BCHL, scoring 21 points in 43 games last season with the Capitals. This year, in nine games, he’s scored two goals. Kehler holds the BC Major Midget League record for goals in a season. He scored 41 goals in 40 games for the Vancouver North East Chiefs in 2012, surpassing Edmonton Oilers’ Ryan Nugent-Hopkins mark of 40.
“He’s a great young player, with a ton of potential,” said Henderson.
Gulka and Craighead spent last season with the Rivermen. Gulka scored six points in 32 games along with 44 penalty minutes and Craighead put up 22 points in 49 games.
Gulka had already matched those numbers with four goals and six points in a dozen games for Langley. Craighead has three goals and seven points in four games, with five of those points coming over the weekend for Cowichan Valley.
“It’s always tough moving local guys, especially when they’re such good kids,” said Henderson. “With Brendan, it was a mutual decision. We both felt for him to further his career he needed to get more opportunity. We have some pretty good young players that we’re investing ice time in and trying to develop those guys,” he said. “We’re sad to see them go because they’re good kids and great in the community.”
Gulka was a product of the Langley Minor Hockey Association.
These moves come days after the team picked up Ben Butcher from the Surrey Eagles for future considerations.
Butcher spent the 2012/13 season with Langley, finishing with 10 goals and 18 points in 54 games as a 17-year-old.
Butcher, who is now 19, had 13 goals and 31 points in 57 games for Chilliwack last season and has one goal and eight assists in 13 games with Surrey and Langley.
“We’ve added some skill with these moves,” said Henderson.
“We’re not scoring a ton of goals but hopefully this will create a spark and generate some offense.”