During the Chiefs’ trips to the BCHL finals four out of five years from 1999-2003, there was one player who was a fan favorite despite not putting huge numbers or being a high end star like Jeff Tambellini, Kevin Estrada, or David Van Der Gulik.
That player is the rough and tough Tyson Terry. He is one of only five players to play on the 2000 and 2002 Chiefs teams who went to the RBC Cup tournament.
I was able to catch up with Terry to talk about his time in Chilliwack, his college career and the path to becoming a coach.
Eric Clarke: You’re one of the few to play parts of all five of your junior years with one team. How would you describe your time in Chilliwack? And how have you implemented those experiences into your life today?
Tyson Terry: Wow, that’s a lot to digest. Being able to play my entire career in Chilliwack was an honour. I think everyone who was able to play in Chilliwack knew how special that place was. The ownership was heavily involved in making it a great place to play. Mr. Brew, Mr. Hassleman, and Mr. Keith all were actively involved owners who came to games and interacted with the players regularly.
We were part of a community that loved and supported us, and (Chiefs general manager and coach) Harvey (Smyl) made it about so much more than just being a hockey player. At the time you didn’t always understand the “why”, but it was about growing as people and men who would become dads, husbands, and coaches when hockey was over. I know I’m just one of so many who can say I’ll always be grateful to Harv for that.
EC: You are one of just five players to play on the Chiefs 2000 and 2002 teams who went to the Royal Bank Cup tournament. Can you talk about the success of those two squads?
TT: There are just so many great memories. 2000 was a different experience simply because I was a young guy on the team and was just along for the ride. We had such a cool dynamic. No one expected us to be as successful as we were and I think the lack of pressure allowed us to just grind out every win.
Our top line – Jeremy Jackson, Nathan Martz, and Travis Banga – were so good all the time, and the depth we had was awesome. Tons of young guys played big roles on that team. Picking up Nathan Marsters was a huge move. He played so great for us down the stretch. Some great memories were Brad McFaul scoring to beat Nanaimo in, I think, triple OT in round one, after the illegal pad measurement fiasco. After that, things just came together. Winning in Vernon was a special memory, and playing Fort Mac in the Doyle Cup was some of the best hockey I’ve been a part of.
The 2002 team was different. After losing to Surrey the year before in the first round, there was a real sense of purpose that we had from day one. We returned a lot of players and brought in some incredible players like Adam Powell, Jeff Royston, and Ralph Vos. We had high expectations and honestly, delivered on those all year. That team was so close and so driven. We scored and scored, and guys like Bobby Henderson, Jeff Barlow, and Dan Mahe did not give an inch to anyone.
The “Chilliwack flu” was very real that season. I think we only lost two games at home all season. Gabe Gauthier, Jeff Tambellini, and David Van Der Gulik were so good all year, and our depth players like Shawn Germain, Brent McIsaac, and Mike Bickley were so steady and hard to play against. It’s not fair to not name every guy on that team because everyone brought so much to the table and filled whatever role we needed.
The Doyle Cup against Drayton Valley was awesome hockey. Two memories I think that stick out were Shawn Germain scoring in OT against Nanaimo in the Coastal Finals, for his first goal. I think Germs was probably the 21st most excited guy on our team when that puck went in. It just said so much about how much we all wanted the team to succeed, and how great it felt when anyone had a special moment like that.
The other was Vandy’s OT goal that sent us to the RBC. The old Coliseum was packed and it just felt like the roof was blown off that place when he scored. We had billets, fans, security, families, and everyone else out on the ice and celebrated that win as a huge group. It was an incredible feeling.
The RBC tournament was such a disappointment. We were the best team there and we played so well, but in single-elimination games, sometimes it doesn’t go your way. But I was so proud to be a part of that and so proud of all my teammates who went on to bigger and better things afterward.
EC: You were one of the toughest guys in the BCHL during your four seasons. Who taught you to fight and who did you have the biggest rivalry with during your playing days?
TT: I wouldn’t say I ever really “learned” how to fight. Honestly, I just tried to hit the other person more than they hit me, and I knew that if I showed up, my teammates would be the ones who appreciated it. I’m positive that I lost far more fights than I ever won. As far as rivalries, I don’t remember ever really fighting any player more than once or twice. I always loved playing against Surrey as those were some fun games. Merritt and Langley both had tough teams back then and that made for some interesting situations.
It was different playing for Chilliwack because everyone you played was gunning for you in that aspect. All the tough players that teams would have in their lineup when we came to town were a reflection of that. But, the toughness element for us was always more about being able to stand up for yourself and your teammates if it was ever needed.
We had some of the most intense rivalries in our practices. I’m sure I tangled with Bobby Henderson more than anyone on any other team over the years. But that was why we were so successful. The internal competition just made us harder to play against. I was lucky that guys like Danny Mahe and Bobby did a lot of the real heavy lifting over the years. But we had some guys who were tough as nails who didn’t need to fight or play that role.
Guys like Shawn Landry, Kaleb Betts, or Kevin Broad were tough as nails but they were able to focus on their roles because of others who shouldered a lot of the other stuff. It was about team toughness and knowing that we weren’t going to go into someone else’s barn or have anyone come into ours who would take liberties.
EC: What was your transition to college hockey with little to no fighting?
TT: College hockey was a big adjustment in that regard. It was grown men playing the game and it was more about being mentally tough than it ever was about physical toughness. I played with some extremely tough BCHL players like Dale Lupul, Rob Whidden, and Steve Sankey, who were all making those same adjustments and were great players. A game misconduct for fighting carried suspensions and penalties that just made it not worth fighting when you only get to play 25-30 games a year. It still happened from time to time, but I think some of those rivalries we had at the college level were so much fun and so much more intense because you couldn’t just take your frustrations out in that way.
It was such a different era, and I know people still argue about its place in the game, knowing what we now know about head injuries. But, when I hear people talk about “the code” today, it makes me roll my eyes a little. It was never about some guy fighting some guy just because it was time to fight. It was more about the game policing itself and keeping players honest and accountable for what they did that was inappropriate. It’s always been a unique part of hockey, and I hope it never goes away completely.
EC: Next year is the 20th anniversary of the 2001-02 Chiefs. I know you live in Minnesota now, but if the Chiefs have a reunion of the team would you come back?
TT: I would love to get back. I’m not sure it’s in the cards but maybe. COVID-19 adds the new wrinkle… so who knows if that will even be feasible with new (travel) rules.
EC: Have you been back to see the Chiefs play since leaving in 2003?
TT: I was able to get out to a couple of Chiefs games shortly after I stopped playing but I don’t think I’ve ever seen them play in the new rink. (I guess) I suppose it’s kind of ridiculous calling it the new rink.
EC: You’ve coached after your playing days, how much of an influence was Harvey Smyl on your coaching career?
TT: Oh man. As a coach I always found myself using something from Harv. The game and the players are different but that was the great thing about the coach Harv was. It was never overly complicated. It was easy to play for him because you knew what was acceptable and he didn’t let you get away with anything less than that – on and off the ice.
One of my favorite things was recruiting in the BCHL and being able to come back and have conversations with him as a friend. I guess I did see the Chiefs play a few times after I left. (laughs) It was special for me to have that relationship with him after I was done playing. I coach my daughter and son now in minor hockey and use just as much from Harv with five and six-year-olds as I ever did with college players.
EC: A final question – I did an article about the 2001-02 Chiefs and one of the big questions was who set up David Van Der Guilk’s overtime goal to win the Doyle Cup. The Chilliwack Progress newspaper says Mark Woywitka took the shot from the point, others say Bobby Henderson and Gabe Gauthier got an assist, how did that play turn out?
TT: Great question! If I remember correctly there was a point shot. I believe it was Woywitka. The puck bounced off the goalies left pad into the slot and Vandy took it to the backhand and jammed it home. But man, I sure don’t remember it as vividly as others might.
Terry played four full seasons with the Chiefs, finishing with 99 points and 656 penalty minutes. Terry played two seasons of NCAA Div. III hockey at the University of Wisconsin-Superior with five points and 72 penalty minutes, and two seasons at SUNY-Geneseo with 28 points and 149 PIMs.
After his playing career, Terry was an assistant coach for two seasons at Manhattanville College, one with the Wenatchee Wild in the North American Hockey League, and three seasons at the College of St. Scholastica.
He resides in Cottage Grove, Minnesota, with his wife and three kids.