Like any junior hockey team, the Chiefs have a few spots to fill before the upcoming season. With no one sure when it will officially start given the pandemic, the Chiefs have a few players who have already committed to join the team.
Chilliwack does have a fair number of returning players from last season’s first-round exit. Among those returning is starting goaltender Mathieu Caron, who is coming off his first full season as the number-one man in the crease. Caron looks to improve on his 18 wins and take the Chiefs further in the playoffs.
Also returning is a group of forwards that includes Brett Rylance, Tommy Lyons, and Joey Larson and they will be looked upon to lead the incoming forwards. Ethan Bowen looks to improve and is a candidate to be taken late in this year’s NHL Entry Draft and possibly be the Chiefs next captain.
On defense, the Chiefs do have a young core coming back, but all now have a season under their belt. Xavier Henry and Brady Gagno will be looked upon to help lead the defense and be a shutdown pairing for Chilliwack. Garrett Valk will also see more minutes this year in a more important role.
New kids on the block
The Chiefs have a few recruits who committed over the summer and late last year. One of those recruits is Dawson Good out of the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds U18 AAA. Good had 16 goals and 31 assists in 38 games with the T-Birds. He also played a handful of games for the Chiefs last year as an affiliate and scored two goals.
“Dawson was a regular at a lot of our practices and a leader on the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds U18 team. He is a cerebral player with high-end skill who isn’t afraid to go to the hard areas of the ice to create offensive opportunities. He has a lot of experience with the league and our group so, look for him to make an impact right away,” said Chiefs general manager and head coach Brian Maloney.
— Chilliwack Chiefs (@Chiefs_Hockey) March 27, 2020
Chilliwack will also have another set of brothers on the team this coming season. In fact, the Chiefs have had a set of brothers on the team in four of the nine years since the franchise returned to Chilliwack in 2011.
Rookie Ty Gagno joins his brother Brady on the team. Ty played for the Burnaby Winter Club prep team where he had five goals and 12 assists in 23 games. Gagno played one game for the Chiefs last season as an affiliate and had two penalty minutes.
“Ty is a player that has improved his game and details within his game over the past couple of seasons. He competes extremely hard, plays a gritty, physical game, and has an underrated skill set. He played a lot of important minutes for his team last year and was named their unsung hero. We are excited to welcome him to the Chiefs to play alongside his brother Brody,” said Maloney.
Strengthening NHL ties
Like a lot of other teams in BCHL, Chilliwack recruited another player with family ties to the NHL as Kienan Draper is the son of legendary Detroit Red Wings forward Kris Draper.
The younger Draper played eight games in the United States Hockey League as a 15-year-old with Muskegon Lumberjacks and US national team development program in 2018-19. Last season, Draper played 68 games for St. Andrew’s College where he notched 29 goals, 29 assists and 75 penalty minutes. Draper is also ranked for this year’s NHL Entry Draft as well as will attend Miami University of Ohio in September 2021.
“Kienan is a player we had been watching closely for at least a couple of seasons. He plays a heavy game, has a good shot with a quick release, and drives back defenders with size and strength. His style will complement our team well, and Kienan is the type of player that you win with. His habits and work ethic are very strong, he doesn’t take shortcuts within his game, both are attributes that will allow him to have success in Chilliwack,” Maloney explained.
Couple of real exciting prep games last night. Northeastern commit Sasha Teleguine with a highlight reel goal for the ages to win it 3-2 late for Thayer over Belmont Hill. Also, Providence commit Riley Duran’s buzzer beater gave Lawrence 3-2 win over St. Seb’s. pic.twitter.com/16RJr3GbVH
— Jeff Cox (@JeffCoxSports) February 15, 2020
The Chiefs have also recruited Sasha Teleguine from Thayer Academy in the USHS-Prep where he had 21 goals and 31 assists. The North Attleborough, Maine native is slated to attend Northwestern University in 2021-22.
“He will be counted on immediately to provide speed and offense to our team. He has an elite skill set and will be one of the fastest players on our roster,” said Maloney. “Sasha plays an offensively minded game, but also brings a physical, competitive game. He is known for his ability to put up points, but he has a mean streak that allows him to have success in the hard areas of the ice.”
The young defense
The defense corps for the Chiefs have added some leadership to its ranks. Among the new players is Lachlan Getz, a 6’3″, 181 lb. defenseman from Northfield, Illinois. Last season, he spent time with the Lawrenceville School of the USHS-prep where he was captain of the team and posted 31 points in 31 games. Getz is committed to Union College, which is where former Chiefs captain Nolan Julseth-White also played.
“Lachlan is a new-wave type of defenseman. He moves very well, has good edges and lateral mobility, and can process the game at high speeds. We are looking for Lachlan to bring some offense from the back-end, and to add to our strong defensive depth,” described Maloney.
“An elite puck mover that can skate is always a positive when you look at building your roster at the BCHL level.”
— Chilliwack Progress (@TheProgress) April 6, 2020
Another leadership addition to the Chiefs defense is Kennedy O’Connor. The 6’2″, 194 lb. defensemen from Springfield, Massachusetts was captain of Loomis Chaffee School in the USHS-Prep. He had three goals and 14 assists over 31 games. O’Connor is a defense-first player who’s committed to the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in September 2021.
“Kennedy is your throwback defensemen. He is a big, strong kid that loves to play a physical brand of hockey. He makes it hard for opposing teams to sustain pressure in the offensive zone with his reach and ability to take away time and space defensively. A good skater, Kennedy thinks the game well and has a lot of untapped potential with regards to creating offense,” Maloney said.
Abram Wiebe is a local Fraser Valley recruit from Mission, BC. His uncle is former NHLer Keith Brown. Last season, like Good, Wiebe played for the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds U18 where he had five goals and 29 assists in 39 games. He also got into three games with the Chiefs last season as an affiliate player and impressed Maloney and the Chilliwack staff.
“Abram is a player who has risen the hockey ranks quickly over the past few seasons. He is a younger defender with a lot of raw potential. We are excited about the development curve he is on, and we know he will be a big part of our defense core for years to come. An extremely committed player with a great attitude and team-first mentality to match.”
With Mathieu Caron entering his last season with the Chiefs, they have recruited Ethan Pearson as his back-up. Pearson is the grandson of former NHLer and WHAer Gillies Marotte.
The 6’2″ netminder from Quebec City played 30 games last season with Mount St Charles Academy U18 and finished with a 1.64 goals-against-average and a .921 save percentage.
— Chilliwack Chiefs (@Chiefs_Hockey) March 31, 2020
Maloney and the Chiefs are very high on Pearson. “The first game we watched him he stood on his head and willed his team to victory. He competes hard in the crease and uses his size and mobility to take away shooting lanes and scoring opportunities. Combined with Caron, we feel we will have potentially the best goaltending depth in the BCHL. We look forward to watching Ethan compete and push his game to the next level next season.”