The 2019-20 BCHL season is just around the corner, all teams have started training camp and their pre-season schedules. The Chiefs opened their pre-season schedule August 23 in Hope, BC at the Hope Recreation Centre against the Wenatchee Wild. It’s an annual event the Chiefs put on for the residents of the small community.
The rest of their pre-season schedule consists of two games against the Surrey Eagles and a home game at the grand opening of the new Sardis Sports Complex on August 29.
The Chiefs open defence of their regular season title against the Langley Rivermen at the George Preston Recreation Centre on Sept. 8. The Chiefs training camp has been spent with players getting familiar with each other and building chemistry. All the roster spots are full for this year, so there’s not a lot of competition as in past years. Most camp invitees will be looked at for affiliate player spots for this season as well as future players for next season and beyond.
The Chiefs schedule is tough in the first half with it being very road heavy. Starting with the second week of the season, they head over to the Island for three games in three nights against Powell River, Cowichan Valley, and ending with a afternoon game in Nanaimo. The young defense will be tested early going into these three smaller rinks. We will also get to see the first action of recently acquired goaltender Kolby Thornton during one of the three games.
The Chiefs offence this season is chock-full of fire power that will be tough for any oppositions defense with returnees Ethan Bowen, Brett Rylance, Clark Nelson, Carter Wilkie, Jacob Slipec and Brett Willits complementing new players like Nikita Nesterenko, Arlo Merritt, Jake Veri, and Peter Reynolds. Look for them to be near the top of the league in goals for this season. On the back end, the Chiefs boast one of the youngest defense corps in the BCHL with an average age of 17 and Brody Gagno and Nathan Kelly as the only returning players. Coach Brian Maloney will look to Kelly and Gagno to help guide the young defense through the season.
The three months of October through December sees the Chiefs travel to the Interior for all but one of their games against Interior opponents and also a second trip to the Island to play the Bulldogs and Grizzlies. The Chiefs also do both their trips up north to face the defending Fred Page Cup champion Prince George Spruce Kings in October and December.
The second half for the Chiefs is the biggest home laden schedule I have seen in a very long time. The only road games the Chiefs play in the month of January are two trips to the South Surrey Arena and Poirier Sports and Leisure Centre to play the Eagles and Express, respectively.
February for the Chiefs is very similar to January with only four road games. The first away game is again down the road in Langley to play their final game at George Preston Recreation Centre. The last three is probably the most bizarre road trip. It sees the Chiefs head to Surrey to play the Eagles on Valentine’s Day, then hop on the bus to Wenatchee to play the Wild the next night, and finish it off on BC’s Family Day holiday for a afternoon tilt with the Eagles back at the South Surrey Arena.
The Chiefs this season look to to have a long playoff run this year after last year’s disappointing second round exit to Prince George.