Hockey Canada

The best forwards in Chilliwack Chiefs history


This is the final installment of my series looking at the best players in Chiefs history. This is probably the hardest one to write as the Chiefs have had a huge amount of fantastic forwards. From the Chiefs’ inaugural season to this past season, there are forwards who wowed us, shocked us, and put up gaudy numbers.

I’ll look at the best three players from each decade. Unlike the articles about goalies and defensemen, the top three players from each decade had to play one full season in Chilliwack.

The 1990s

Joey Potskin

Potskin came to the Chiefs for their first season, along with his friend Marc Gagnon. Potskin only played one season with the Chiefs but set the bar high. The Prince George native put up an astonishing 60 goals and 86 assists for 146 points.

It remains the Chiefs’ all-time single-season point total as well as the record for goals in a season. In fact, Chilliwack’s top scorer award is named after Potskin.

Following his amazing season in Chilliwack, Potskin played nine games for the Roanoke Valley Rebels in the ECHL, putting up one goal and two assists. Potskin also was a part of Atlanta Braves spring training for a few weeks before returning home to Prince George.

The last known stats for Potskin were in 2004-05. Playing with the senior men’s Horse Lake Thunder, he put up seven goals and five assists in 12 games.

Doug Ast

(Chilliwack Progress / Black Press Media)

Ast came to the Chiefs from the Chilliwack U18 AAA team in 1991-92. Ast had an adjustment to the BCHL and scored 32 points over 54 games. It was a far cry from his 114 points the year before with his U18 team.

The Chilliwack native became the first hometown captain of the Chiefs in 1992-93. Unfortunately, the team around him wasn’t better as Ast had 80 points in 56 games and the Chiefs finished second last.

In 1993-94, Harvey Smyl was hired as head coach and Ast flourished. In his second season as captain Ast posted an astonishing 130 points in 51 games. Ast left the Chiefs as the all-time scoring leader with 242 points.

After Chilliwack, Ast played two seasons at the University of British Columbia. While at UBC, Ast played in Roller Hockey International with the Vancouver VooDoo and scored 152 points over two seasons.

He joined the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League in 1996-97. In 61 games, he had 20 points and also notched three points in four games with the Wheeling Nailers of the ECHL.

In 1997-98, Ast signed with the Long Beach Ice Dogs of the International Hockey League. He played three seasons with them and posted 149 points. In 2000-01, Ast had 38 points in 82 games as an assistant captain with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose.

Embed from Getty Images

After one season with the Moose, Ast signed with the Iserlohn Roosters in Germany and tallied 73 points over two seasons. Ast moved to Ingolstadt in 2003-04 and proceeded to score 194 points over six seasons. Following the 2008-09 season, he retired from playing.

In 2011-12, Ast joined Harvey Smyl as an assistant coach of the Chiefs and was in that role until the 2013-14 season.

Brian Maloney

(Chilliwack Progress / Black Press Media)

Maloney arrived in Chilliwack following a mid-season trade with the Olds Grizzlys in 1997-98. Before the trade, Maloney had 74 points with the Grizzlys over a season and a half.

After the trade, Maloney added 16 points in 21 games for the Chiefs and was named an alternate captain upon his arrival. The next season, Maloney was captain of the Chiefs and led them in scoring 115 points. The Bassano, Alberta native helped lead Chilliwack to the BCHL final against Vernon.

Following Chilliwack, Maloney played four years at Michigan State University and posted a combined 137 points. He also won back-to-back Central Collegiate Hockey Association championships.

In 2003-04, Maloney was named alternate captain of the Spartans and was awarded the CCHA Terry Flanagan Memorial Award for perseverance, dedication, and overcoming severe adversity as voted upon by  CCHA coaches.

Maloney turned pro following the 2003-04 season, playing in four games with the Chicago Wolves of the AHL. He made the Wolves roster full-time in 2004-05 and had 20 points in 69 games. He played two more seasons with Chicago, scoring 52 points. In 2007-08, Maloney played 39 games with the Binghamton Senators and had 13 points.

Then Maloney went to Germany to play for the Krefeld Penguins of the DEL, scoring 38 points in 54 games. The next season, Maloney signed with the Straubing Tigers and notched 44 points in 90 games over two seasons.

Embed from Getty Images

Maloney joined the Ravensburg Towerstars of the German second division in 2010. In his first season with Ravensburg, Maloney was named an alternate captain, put up 58 points in 44 games, and helped the Towerstars win the Bundesliga championship.

In 2010-11, Maloney was loaned to HC Thurgau of Switzerland’s National League B. In 40 NLB games, Maloney potted 26 points and led the league in penalty minutes with 139. He also added 14 points in 14 games with Ravensburg.

Maloney was named Ravensburg’s captain in 2012-13 and wore it for two seasons before retiring. After retirement, Maloney returned to Chilliwack where he was named director of the Chilliwack Minor Hockey Association and an assistant coach of the Chiefs under Jason Tatarnic.

Following the 2018 first-round playoff loss, Maloney took over from Tatarnic as head coach and general manager of the Chiefs before hosting the RBC Cup.

He led the Chiefs to their lone national championship with a 4-2 win over the Wellington Dukes of the Ontario Junior Hockey League.

The 2000s

Travis Banga

(Chilliwack Progress / Black Press Media)

Banga arrived with the Chiefs before the start of the 1998-99 season in a trade with the Olds Grizzlys, after old teammate Brian Maloney was brought in to convince Banga’s dad of the trade. Banga’s first season with the Chiefs saw him finish second in scoring behind Maloney with 108 points in 59 games.

In 1999-2000, Banga was named captain of the Chiefs, led them in scoring with 129 points in 59 games, and was the BCHL’s top scorer. He was injured in the second round of the BCHL playoffs but returned for the final against Vernon where the Chiefs captured their second BCHL championship.

Banga led the Chiefs to their only bronze medal at the RBC with a victory over the North Battleford Stars. He finished second behind Doug Ast with 237 points on the Chiefs all-time points list.

After Chilliwack, Banga played two seasons at the University of New Hampshire. Three games into the 2001-02 season, Banga transferred to NCAA Division III New England College.

After the transfer, Banga recorded 27 points in 19 games and helped the Pilgrims to the Hockey East championship. Banga was named an alternate captain ahead of the 2002-03 season and notched 50 points in 25 games. He served as team captain in 2003-04 and posted 51 points in 26 games.

He joined the Memphis River Kings of the Central Hockey League in 2004-05 and had 59 points in 41 games. Banga played two more seasons with the River Kings putting up a combined 131 points.

From 2007 to 10, Banga bounced from the CHL’s Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees to the Texas Brahmas to the IHL’s Muskegon Lumberjacks and then to the Tulsa Oilers of the CHL. 

In 2010-11, Banga went over to play in the Dutch Hockey League with Eindhoven Kemphanen. In 42 games, he had 74 points. Banga retired after the 2010-11 season and returned to New England College as an assistant coach where he still works today.

 Jeff Tambellini

(Chilliwack Progress / Black Press Media)

Tambellini came to the Chiefs in 2000-01 from the Poco Buckaroos of the Pacific Junior Hockey League. Tambellini made an instant impact with the Chiefs and cemented a lasting legacy that is still around today.

In his first season with the Chiefs, Tambellini had 51 points in 54 games. He earned the honour of playing at the World U17 Challenge for Team Canada Pacific and had seven points in six games.

In the 2001-02 BCHL season, Tambellini broke out at an insane pace. In only 34 games for the Chiefs, Tambellini scored 46 goals and 117 points. Alongside linemates Gabe Gauthier and David Van Der Gulik, Tambellini was part of the Chiefs’ six-headed monster.

Tambellini tallied an eye-popping 54 points in the playoffs that year to help the Chiefs to their third BCHL championship and second in three years. He earned BCHL Coastal Conference MVP, Coastal Conference most sportsmanlike player and top scorer in the league. At the RBC Cup, Tambellini led all players with 10 points in four games and was named tournament top scorer and MVP along with Canadian Junior Hockey League player of the year. 

After Chilliwack, Tambellini went to the University of Michigan. As a freshman, Tambellini had 45 points in 43 games and won CCHA rookie of the year in addition to being named to the CCHA all-rookie team and a CCHA second team all-star.

He was selected 27th overall by the Los Angeles Kings at the 2003 NHL Draft. Tambellini returned to Michigan as an alternate captain in 2003-04 and also played for Canada for the 2004 World Junior Championships in Finland. His teammates included the likes of Sidney Crosby, Ryan Getzlaf, Brent Burns, and Marc-Andre Fleury.

Embed from Getty Images

Tambellini went back to Michigan for 2004-05 and had 57 points in 42 games. He was named a CCHA first team all-star and CCHA tournament MVP. The Port Moody, BC product was also an NCAA West second all-American and the Wolverines won the CCHA championship for the second time in three years.

Following the end of his NCAA year, Tambellini signed his entry-level contract with the Kings and joined them in 2005-06. In his first season as a pro, Tambellini got into four games with the Kings and at the AHL level, he had 56 points in 56 games.

In March 2006, Tambellini was traded from the Kings to the New York Islanders alongside Denis Grebeshkov and a conditional third-round pick for Mark Parrish and Brent Sopel. Tambellini joined the Islanders for the rest of the NHL season and put up four points in 21 games.

The following season, Tambellini split time with the Islanders and Bridgeport Sound Tigers over the next two seasons, putting up 13 points in the NHL and 135 points in the AHL. He became a mainstay with the Islanders in 2008-09 and gained 15 points in 65 games. In 2009-10, Tambellini got into only 36 games with the Islanders due to injury and had 14 points.

Embed from Getty Images

Before the 2010-11 season, Tambellini signed a one-year contract with the Vancouver Canucks. Tambellini started the year with the Manitoba Moose before being recalled by Vancouver. Tambellini played 62 games for the Canucks and added 17 points. Tambellini got in six games during the Canucks’ playoff run to the 2011 Stanley Cup Final.

From 2011-13, Tambellini went to Switzerland to play for the Zurich Lions. He posted 28 goals and 57 points in 77 games over the course of the two seasons.

Tambellini then jumped over to Sweden to play for the legendary MODO hockey team. In 45 games in the Swedish Hockey League, he had 20 points.

For the 2014-15 season, Tambellini moved back to Switzerland with HC Fribourg-Gotteron. In 30 games, Tambellini posted 13 points. He was named to Canada’s Spengler Cup team and had one point in four games. Following the tournament, Tambellini joined the Vaxjo Lakers of the SHL and had nine points in 20 games.

Ahead of the 2015-16 season, Tambellini signed a one-year deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning and joined the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch. The following season, he went back to Sweden and signed with Djurgarden. Tambellini played 41 games before being traded to Vaxjo for the rest of the season. After playing six games in the SHL playoffs, Tambellini retired.

Embed from Getty Images

After retirement, like many before him, Tambellini became the next former Chief to go into coaching. His first coaching position was with his University of Michigan alma mater as an assistant. Tambellini branched out after his first coaching year and became the head coach and GM of the Trail Smoke Eaters. In his first season in Trail, Tambellini finished with a record of 23-24-11 for seventh in the Interior Division.

Tambellini’s second season with the Smokies was an improvement over the previous year, finishing at 36-17-4 for second in the Interior Division. In April 2020, Tambellini accepted a position as a pro scout for the Tampa Bay Lightning and stayed on as an advisor with the Smoke Eaters.

Matt Butcher

(Chilliwack Progress / Black Press Media)

Butcher came to the Chiefs in 2003-04. The son of former Vancouver Canucks defenseman Garth Butcher, had 25 points in 48 games during his rookie year. Butcher returned to the Chiefs in 2004-05, played all 60 games, and improved his point total to 57.

He was selected by the Canucks in the fifth round, 138th overall, at the 2005 NHL Draft. Butcher was named captain of the Chiefs for the 2005-06 season, their final year in Chilliwack before relocating to Langley.

The Bellingham, Washington native exploded offensively for 101 points in 57 games and was named Coastal Conference MVP, the third Chief to do so.

After his time in Chilliwack, Butcher played four years at Northern Michigan University, finishing his NCAA career with 42 points. He played four games with the ECHL’s Cincinnati Cyclones in 2010-11 before being traded to the Victoria Salmon Kings where Butcher had 18 points in 37 games.

He retired from playing following the 2010-11 season and currently resides in Mississauga, Ontario.

The 2010s

Mathieu Tibbet

(Chilliwack Progress / Black Press Media)

Tibbet was recruited to the Chiefs for their return to Chilliwack in 2011-12. In his rookie season, Tibbet posted nine goals and six assists in 34 games. He had a down year as a BCHL sophomore with only a dozen points in 42 games. After two injury-plagued seasons, Tibbet broke out in 2013-14 and had 54 points in 58 games, including 31 goals. 

The Viola, Delaware product committed to Merrimack College for 2014-15 and in his first season, recorded 14 points. He ran into more injury problems in his second season and only played 19 games.

He came back to play his junior and senior seasons at Merrimack and finished his NCAA career with 17 goals and 33 points in 110 games.

Jordan Kawaguchi

Kawaguchi arrived in Chilliwack in 2013-14 after being an affiliate player for the West Kelowna Warriors the season before. It wasn’t a spectacular year for Kawaguchi and the Chiefs, he only had 18 points in 49 games and there was speculation that Kawaguchi might join the Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League for 2014-15.

He wound up staying with Chilliwack and improved his point total to 56 that season. Kawaguchi was named captain of the Chiefs for the 2015-16 season and he jumped to 83 points, helping lead the Chiefs to the Fred Page Cup final against West Kelowna.

The Abbotsford, BC product returned for one more season with the Chiefs and added another 85 points and tying Ast for the Chiefs all-time scoring lead at 242 points. Kawaguchi led the Chiefs back to the Fred Page Cup final again, this time against Penticton. The Chiefs lost again, this time in seven games. Kawaguchi led all the playoff scorers with 43 points.

Starting in September 2017, Kawaguchi headed to the University of North Dakota. In his freshman year, he had 19 points before improving to 26 in his sophomore year. Kawaguchi was named an alternate captain for the Fighting Hawks in his junior season.

He notched an impressive 45 points in 2019-20, helping the Hawks to an NCHC championship and was named a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award as the top player in NCAA hockey.

After fielding calls from NHL teams, Kawaguchi decided to return to UND for his senior year. Upon returning, Kawaguchi was named captain of the Fighting Hawks and finished this past season with 36 points in 28 games.

Kawaguchi helped lead the Hawks to back-to-back NCHC championships and the top seed in the NCAA tournament. After an impressive 5-1 win over American International College, UND faced the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Kawaguchi tied the game with 57 secs left to erase a 2-0 deficit and send it to overtime. The game went five extra periods before the UMD won and ended Kawaguchi’s chances of becoming the first Chiefs alumnus since Gabe Gauthier to win the NCAA championship.

With the end of his college career, Kawaguchi signed a one-year, entry-level contract with the Dallas Stars. The stars assigned Kawaguchi to the Texas Stars of the AHL.

Will Calverley

Calverley came to the Chiefs for the 2016-17 season after playing a handful of games for the North York Rangers of the OJHL as an affiliate the previous year.

In his first season, Calverley put up 50 points and helped Chilliwack get to the Fred Page Cup and Western Canada Cup. The Chiefs named him captain to lead the team into the RBC Cup as the hosts in 2018.

He had a bit of a down year personally in 2017-18, putting up only 46 points but still leading Chilliwack in scoring. However, Calverley picked his team up and drove it all the way to the RBC Cup final. In the final game, the Chiefs were down 2-1 before Calverley potted the game-tying goal which led to Corey Andonovski’s game-winner four minutes later.

Calverley had the chance to exercise the Chiefs’ RBC Cup demons by lifting the trophy above his head in front of the Chilliwack faithful and had his white home jersey sent to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The product of Scarborough, Ontario wrapped up his third NCAA season at the Rochester Institute of Technology in 2020-21. He’s become a valuable member of the Tigers with 32 goals and 64 points in 87 career games thus far. Calverley heads into his senior year at RIT this fall.


The Chiefs have had fantastic forwards over the years so many it’s impossible to get them all on this list. Some of the players not included are the likes of Marc Gagnon, Shawn Horcoff, Jason Krog, Gabe Gauthier, David Van Der Gulik, Micah Sanford, Derek Grant, and Peter Bogdinich just to name a few.

I’m sure as the franchise continues, there will be even more dynamic forwards who don the iconic logo of the Chilliwack Chiefs.