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The best defensemen in Chilliwack Chiefs history


The Chilliwack Chiefs have had several great defensemen during their BC Hockey League history.

Chilliwack’s legendary coach Harvey Smyl, who was behind the Chiefs bench for all but 10 of the team’s 31 seasons, was known for having big, hard-nosed defensemen with a sprinkling of offensive blueliners to compliment them.

Truth be told, the ultimate defender for the Chiefs for the longest time was the original Chilliwack Coliseum.

The 1990s

(Chilliwack Progress / Black Press Media)

Brad Hodgins

Hodgins came to the Chiefs in an offseason trade with the Victoria Warriors before the 1993-94 season. The Duncan, BC native accumulated 38 goals and 95 assists for 133 points in three seasons in Chilliwack. Hodgins helped the Chiefs win the 1995 BCHL championship as the team’s leading scorer on defense.

After Chilliwack, Hodgins played four years at Michigan State University, posting 70 points. He then played 15 games with the New Orleans Brass in the ECHL and notched a goal and seven assists.

(Chilliwack Progress / Black Press Media)

Don Nichols

Nichols came to the Chiefs in 1995-96 and got into one game without gaining a point. The following season of 1996-97, Nichols cracked the lineup and contributed eight goals and 24 assists for 32 points.

1997-98 was a breakout year for Nichols, leading the Chiefs defensemen in scoring with 14 goals and 33 assists for 47 points. The Chilliwack native led the Chiefs defense in scoring again in 1998-99 with 18 goals and 34 assists for 52 points, helping them get to the BCHL finals in a losing effort to the Vernon Vipers.

Following his final year in Chilliwack, Nichols signed a pro contract with the Tilburg Trappers in the Netherlands Professional League. In the Dutch league, Nichols put up 92 points over four seasons.

In 2003-04, Nichols jumped over and played for the Heerenveen Flyers. He led the Flyers defense in scoring in all four seasons and put up a total of 153 points. Nichols returned to Tilberg for a second stint for two more seasons, leading the Trappers defense in scoring in each.

Nichols played one season with The Hague HYS before spending two seasons in Italy. He then returned to Holland and Tilberg for one season. Nichols played two seasons more in the top tier of the Dutch league with Dordecht and Eindhoven.

In the 2015-16 season, Nichols dropped down and played for the Tilberg Trappers II in the BeNeLiga (Second Divison) for two years before taking the 2017-18 season off. Nichols returned to the Tilberg Trappers II this past season, putting up 27 points in 13 games.

(The Chilliwack Progress / Black Press Media)

Corey deMoissac

DeMoissac came to the Chiefs in 1994-95 in a deal with the Fort Saskatchewan Traders of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. In his first season in Chilliwack, deMoissac added three goals and nine assists for 12 points, helping the Chiefs to their first BCHL championship.

The following season, deMoissac chipped in with 21 points. In 1996-97, de Moissac only played in 43 games due to injury and scored 18 points.

For 1997-98, the St. Paul, Alberta native was named Chiefs captain and led by example with 33 points in his final season of junior hockey.

Following Chilliwack, deMoissac played three years at Red Deer College. Today he is an assistant coach with the St. Paul Canadians junior B team, alongside another Chiefs alumnus, Shawn Germain.

 The 2000s

(Chilliwack Progress / Black Press Media)

Jeff Barlow

Barlow came to the Chiefs in 1999-00 and put up 17 points and 144 penalty minutes. The strong, hard-nosed blueliner followed up his rookie season with 32 points and 209 penalty minutes in 2000-01.

The next season, Barlow was named captain of the Chiefs, and lead he did. He increased his point total to 41 and drove the Chiefs to their third BCHL championship and second in three years. Barlow also brought the team to a Doyle Cup win over Drayton Valley and the semi-finals of the RBC Cup, where he was named top defensemen of the tournament.

After Chilliwack, Barlow played at the University of Wisconsin-Superior in 2003-04 and then skated in just one game the following season with the Lubbock Cotton Kings of the Central Hockey League.

Sheldon Lee

(Chilliwack Progress / Black Press Media)

Lee came to the Chiefs in 2002-03 from the Swift Current Legionnaires U18 AAA. He posted 12 assists in his first season. In 2003-04, Lee had five goals and eight assists for 13 points.

For the 2004-05 season, Lee was named captain of the Chiefs and posted 17 points.

Following his junior career, he played one season with the Central Hockey League’s Fort Worth Brahmas gaining one goal and six assists. The next year, Lee played six games with the CHL’s Rocky Mountain Rage before joining the Hodgeville Huskies of the Notekeu Hockey League, a senior circuit in Southern Saskatchewan.

Lee played seven seasons with the Huskies before joining the Cabri Bulldogs of the White Mud Hockey League. In Cabri, Lee plays alongside former NHLer Emerson Etem and the Bulldogs won the WMHL title last season.

(Chilliwack Progress / Black Press Media)

Nolan Julseth-White

Julseth-White is another hometown player for the Chiefs. As a 17-year-old in 2004-05, he posted 13 points.

He is also one of the few players to play for the franchise in both Chilliwack and Langley. Julseth-White chipped in with 52 points in 2006-07, the Chiefs first season in Langley.

Julseth-White was named Chiefs captain for the 2007-08 season and notched 34 points from the blueline.

After 218 career BCHL games, Julseth-White played four seasons at Union College of the NCAA and in his final year, made it all the way to the Frozen Four.

He turned pro in 2012 and played two seasons with the ECHL’s Las Vegas Wranglers, putting up 32 points. In 2014-15, Jusleth-White played with the Ontario Reign, adding 25 points.

Julseth-White tried a year in France getting into 22 games with Angers in 2015-16 and returned to the ECHL with the Tulsa Oilers the following season.

The 2010s


(Chilliwack Progress / Black Press Media)

Eric Roberts

Roberts came to the Chiefs as an affiliate player in 2011-12 and played three games. The next season, Roberts cracked the Chiefs lineup full-time and had five points in 54 games.

As a sophomore, Roberts increased his point total once again and posted 10 points in 51 games. In time for the 2014-15 season, the Abbotsford, BC product had the honour of being named Chiefs captain, joining the many defensemen before him.

Roberts had his best season with the ‘C’ on his chest, scoring three goals and 25 assists to lead the Chiefs to the three-team round-robin final tournament with Penticton and Nanaimo.

After Chilliwack, Roberts played two years at the University of Alaska-Anchorage. In 32 games as a freshman for the SeaWolves, Roberts had four points. He retired following the 2016-17 NCAA season.

(Chilliwack Progress / Black Press Media)

Dennis Cholowski

Cholowski came to the Chiefs in 2013-14 as an affiliate player while playing for the Yale Acadamy Elite u15s and got into one game.

In 2014-15, Cholowski cracked the lineup as a rookie and made an immediate impact by providing 27 points from the back end. In the playoffs, Cholowski added seven assists.

Cholowski had a break-out year for the Chiefs in 2015-16, putting up 40 points during the regular season and 15 points in the playoffs. That summer, he became the first Chiefs player ever selected in the first round of the NHL Draft after being taken 20th overall by Detroit.

After Chilliwack, Cholowski played in the NCAA with St. Cloud State in 2016-17 and signed an entry-level contract with the Red Wings following the season. He then left St. Cloud State to join the Prince George Cougars of the Western Hockey League.

The Langley native put up 13 goals and 26 assists with the Cougars and was traded at the deadline to the Portland Winterhawks, where he put up another goal and 26 assists.

In the 2018-19 season, Cholowski made Detroit’s opening night roster. He got into 52 games with the Wings and tallied 16 points. Cholowski also had a dozen assists in 25 games with the American Hockey League’s Grand Rapids Griffins.

Cholowski split the 2019-20 season between Detroit and Grand Rapids and is currently playing with the Griffins.

(Chilliwack Progress / Black Press Media)

Connor McCarthy

McCarthy was recruited to the Chiefs from the Dawson College Blues of the Quebec Colligate Hockey League in 2015.

He made an impact early, putting up 23 points in 56 games, second to only Cholowski in scoring for Chiefs defensemen that season. For the 2016-17 season, McCarthy increased his totals by adding 13 goals and 23 assists to lead the Chiefs blueline in points.

After Chilliwack, McCarthy played 82 games over three seasons with Clarkson University and scored 35 points. He is currently into his fourth NCAA season with the Golden Knights and serves as an alternate captain this season.


The Chiefs have had an abundance of quality defensemen over the years that could have made this list. The likes of Bobby Henderson, Rob Marshall, Shawn Germain, Thomas Kraft, Chad Nelson, Ilya Borisychev, Shawn Landry, Brad McFaul, Zach Tarkir, Trevor Hunt all warranted consideration.

In more recent years, David Thompson, Olivier Arseneau, Mark Esposito, Keifer MacNaughton, Bryan Allbee, Marcus Tesnik, and Nathan Kelly were in the mix.

During his career in Chilliwack, Smyl was big on bringing in big, tough defensemen and complementing them with a few offensive blueliners. He leaned on being more defensive-minded as a head coach and having a small rink for most of his coaching career played to his advantage.

Smyl’s successors Jason Tatarnic and Brian Maloney somewhat continued that trend, but have brought a more offensive style to the Chiefs back end compared to the rough and tumble, hard-nosed defenders of the past.