by Jacob Bestebroer
The Chiefs kick off the 2017-18 season with games tonight and tomorrow night in Prince George. Game time both nights is 7pm
The Chiefs enter the season having won the BCHL’s mainland division playoff championship three consecutive times.
While it won’t be easy, I like their chances of making it four in a row.
The mainland division has a different look this season with the Wenatchee Wild having moved to the interior division. The Chiefs and Wild have met for the division title in each of the last two seasons so this move alone makes the task easier for each of the division’s five teams.
Player turnover at this level is always high but the number of returning players this season, five, is as low as I can remember it ever being. The Chiefs didn’t carry many extra players during the pre season so we got a pretty good look at most of the players they will start the season with. They won three of their four exhibition games, which means little but there were signs in each of the four games that point to a successful season.
Throughout the pre season, the Chiefs top line consisted of returnee Will Calverley, along with rookies Corey Andonovski and Bobby Young. They were consistently dangerous in each of the four games. Calverley will be the captain this year which comes as no surprise. After showing Will and his family around when they first arrived in Chilliwack two springs ago I clearly remember saying to another Chiefs scout “if this kid’s here more than one year, he’s wearing the C.”
Highly touted newcomers Harrison Blaisdell and Skyler Brind’Amour spent time on a line together and looked good. Both of their fathers were NHL players and don’t be surprised to see both of these players follow their hockey path to that level. Brind’Amour is already a draft pick of the Edmonton Oilers. Blaisdell is just 16 and will have to wait till 2019 to hear his name called at the NHL Entry Draft.
After the trade of Colin Bernard to Langley earlier this week, 17 year old Powell Connor is now the Chiefs only returning defenseman. Five of the seven dmen on the team are rookies. As a group they’ve looked good so far. The addition of 20 year old Bryan Allbee, who brings 146 games of Western Hockey League experience with him, is really going to help this team.
The goaltending, while young, has looked good. Daniel Chenard, who turns 18 in October will likely get the majority of starts. His performance during the pre season which included a 37 save shutout against Langley proved that he’s ready for the challenge. He’ll be backed up by 17 year old rookie Mathieu Caron who spent quite a bit of time last season with the Chiefs as an affiliate player.
A short personal note. I missed most of last season due to medical reasons. Over the last few weeks I’ve been getting back to the rink on a regular basis and I want to thank all the Chiefs fans and volunteers who have welcomed be back with open arms and words of encouragement. It is much appreciated.