In early December, three players on the Chilliwack Chiefs went to Tyson Elementary School to do ‘Read with the Chiefs.’ This happens every Monday at schools across Chilliwack. But this week had a special connection. Brooke Janzen, the school principal, came in to listen to the players read a book to the students. At the end of the read, she told the students “The Chiefs have a special place in my heart because my husband used to play on the team.”
Her husband is former goalie Derek Janzen. The puka shell-wearing, white frosted tips teenager also did ‘Read with the Chiefs’ when he was a player. However, Chilliwack isn’t always where wanted to be.
Despite starting hockey late at ten years old, Janzen became an elite goaltender. He was heavily recruited by the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL as a young teen. He was eventually drafted by them and had his mind made up that he was going to play junior hockey. Little did he know that would all change.
Before he was set to join Seattle he was invited to a camp for Team BC. Chiefs head coach Harvey Smyl was also in attendance. After witnessing Janzen’s talent, Smyl offered him a spot immediately. With a new path of opportunity presented, Janzen’s dad thought it would be best to take Smyl up on his offer. Pursuing NCAA-level hockey was intriguing to him, even though his son didn’t necessarily think so. After debating, he chose Chilliwack. “All of me wanted to go to Seattle and do that,” Janzen said, “it was a tough pill to swallow, but my dad steered me in the right direction.”
When Janzen got to the Chiefs, he quickly formed a tandem with established goalie Curtis Darling. Janzen reminisced about the time they spent puck handling at practice. Darling taught him what Janzen describes as “a huge part of the position.” By the end of the two seasons they spent together, Janzen had adopted many aspects of Darlings game. The relationship they formed on and off the ice is a fond memory of his time as a Chief.
Eventually, Darling (who was three years older) left. Janzen became the primary goaltender on his way to a career at Northern Michigan University. He had accomplished exactly why he joined the BCHL; a scholarship to play NCAA. After a lacklustre season with not a lot of playing time in Michigan, he decided to take advantage of the rest of his BCHL eligibility and come back.
When he returned from only one season away, the Chilliwack Chiefs were now the Langley Chiefs. Janzen is one of few players who can say he wore the Chiefs logo in two different cities. Even though the logo was the same, the only familiar face on a team now 50 kilometres further West was Smyl. Although he played 45 games and furthered his development in the process, he said “It just didn’t feel the same.”
Even though everything was different, Janzen was grateful to have had the opportunity to return to the Chiefs. He praises Coach Smyl who “Gave me ample opportunity to play in a lot of games and pave my path in my hockey career.” He was the senior goalie on the team just like Darling, his ‘partner in the pipes,’ once was. After parts of four seasons, Janzen left the team with the most wins ever recorded by a Chiefs goalie.
After his NCAA career was over, Janzen came back again. He now works in operations for Valley Waste. The company is also a sponsor of Chiefs hockey. The BCHL not only tries to prepare successful student-athletes but also successful working adults. Janzen realizes his time playing hockey ties into his everyday life, saying “Hockey provided me with the experience to work well in a team, and that’s what we are here at Valley Waste. Hockey helped propel my career.”
Janzen still gets recognized in the community from his playing days, which he is both equally surprised and happy about. He is also active in the community, sharing his expertise in net with young goalies. Both his sons play hockey, and he is enjoying stepping into the new role as an assistant coach.
Janzen chose Chilliwack to pursue junior hockey, and in the future came back a second time to start a family and a career. He’s the Chief who chose Chilliwack twice.