|Brad Ryan (2) and Liam Board (19)|
Trades are never the fun part of the game, but they are an integral part of it. Teams make trades all season long to try and tweak and build a better team for the short term and the long term. Even so it isn't always easy on the players or those close to the team.
Earlier today the Spruce Kings finalized two separate deals that results in three new players coming to Prince George in exchange for two players that start the season in the Castle. Liam Board and Brad Ryan who played together last season with the Oakville Blades and then came to Prince George together were dealt to different teams today - Board to Vernon and Ryan to Coquitlam.
For Brad Ryan, this is a move that puts him with a team that started strong and for whatever reason fell off the pace recently. The Express were very persistent in their desire to acquire the big defenceman that came in and made an immediate impact in the BCHL. Ryan has a wicked shot from the left point that can find the top corner with precision and led to his 5 goals and 10 assists from the blue line. Those numbers make Ryan the highest ranked d-man on the Coquitlam Express squad and fifth overall.
Liam Board is an exceptional person, especially off the ice and may very well be the most missed player since Matt Shuya was traded to the Merritt Centennials at the trade deadline in the 2006-07 season. Board showed his ability to be a physical player and was able to put up some decent numbers as well with 5 goals and 9 assists. Those numbers place him fifth on the Vipers team scoring.
Coming this was are a trio of players that have shown they have the talent to excel at this level and beyond. In the mix is a pair of seventeen year old players and a nineteen year old. Acquired from Vernon, Kevin Guiltinan is a rookie defenceman from London, Ontario that has already secured a NCAA Division I scholarship to Harvard University. Even at the age of 17, Guiltinan is an imposing player on the blue line standing 6' 3" and 205 pounds who can hit.
The other two players come via the Coquitlam Express in Jace Hennig and Mark Begert. Hennig is a seventeen year old forward that has speed and a touch around the net. At 5' 10" 175 pounds, Hennig has been able to put up numbers as seen by his stats while playing with the Vancouver NE Giants of the BC Major Midget League where he scored 24 goals and finished with 52 points in 25 games. Since skating with the Express, he has picked up another 4 goals and 12 assists and also secured a NCAA Division I scholarship to Merrimack College.
The other piece of the puzzle is Mark Begert, a 19 year old 6' 185 pound defenceman. Mark is a solid two way defenseman who moves the puck well and according to Mike Hawes, Spruce Kings General Manager, will be used in all situations. In Major Midget, Begert helped the Vancouver NW Giants to consecutive championships. An academic student with high marks, Begert earned a BCHL Academic All-Star honour last season.
These three players should all add a new dynamic to the Spruce Kings and make some improvements in their key areas. Perhaps the biggest improvement is just in the numbers themselves with team now sitting with seven defenceman, a luxury that was very noticeable last weekend when the team had to skate with just four defenceman for the better part of two games.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, trades are a part of hockey player's career. Sometimes they make sense and sometimes they take a little while to play out but in the end all that we can hope for is that a trade becomes the win-win for everybody involved that it was intended to be. I will miss both Ryan and Board who made a tough decision to come out west to pursue their dream of furthering their hockey careers.
Ryan secured a scholarship to the University of Vermont for next season. As for Board, well he wants a scholarship too but every time I've talked to him he mentioned about playing for a championship team and winning the RBC Royal Bank Cup Championship. Liam will get this opportunity now as a twenty year old next season with the host team of the 2014 RBC Royal Bank Cup in Vernon.