The unique connection between Chilliwack and St. Paul, Alberta


I previously looked at the unique connection between Chilliwack and the State of Michigan. This time I’ll look at the unique connection between Chilliwack and the town of St. Paul, AB. There are many connections both on and off the ice.

On the ice, several players throughout the years have come from St. Paul to play for the Chiefs during their junior careers. I’ll look at the players who came from St. Paul and the connection of both the cities and the similarities between them.

Both Chilliwack and St. Paul were founded with agriculture in mind. St. Paul’s main economic resource is still agriculture and while Chilliwack has transitioned to more manufacturing, it still has a robust agricultural industry with its world-famous corn and dairy farms.

Both Chilliwack and St. Paul are also rooted in Indigenous culture. St. Paul was originally a settlement for Métis settlers and Chilliwack was established on Stó:lō territory with several different Indigenous peoples making up what is now the City of Chilliwack.

Even the Chilliwack and St. Paul logos use the same blue and green shades.

The players

(The Chilliwack Progress / Black Press Media)

Chris Leroux

Leroux was the first player from St. Paul to come to the Chiefs. He joined the team in the 1993-94 season. The defenseman spent two seasons with the Chiefs, finishing with six goals, 40 assists, and 222 penalty minutes. Leroux was also part of Chilliwack’s 1995 BCHL championship team.

(The Chilliwack Progress / Black Press Media)

Corey deMoissac

DeMoissac came over to BC for the start of the 1994-95 season and played four seasons with the Chiefs.  He was named captain of the team in 1997-98, his final season in Chilliwack. I featured deMoissac in an earlier article on BCHLNetwork.

Aaron Boucher

Boucher also came over for the start of the 1994-95 BCHL season. He played two seasons with the Chiefs accumulating nine goals, 21 assists, and 116 penalty minutes. The forward was also a member of the 1995 championship team alongside his friend deMoissac.

(The Chilliwack Progress / Black Press Media)

Jeff Yopyk

Yopyk was a 1999 trade deadline acquisition for the Chiefs, coming over from the Lloydminster Blazers of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. Yopyk scored five goals and 14 assists in his short time in Chilliwack.

He will forever be famous in Chilliwack for scoring the overtime winner for the Chiefs against the defending back-to-back BCHL champions and arch-rival South Surrey Eagles in the 1999 playoffs.

(The Chilliwack Progress / Black Press Media)

Dan Mahe

Mahe came over in a trade from Lloydminster of the AJHL before the start of the 2000-01 season. He played two seasons for the Chiefs before being sent back to Alberta in a trade with Bonnyville following the 2001-02 season.

He was one of the few tough guys the Chiefs deployed during those two seasons, alongside Tyson Terry, Bobby Henderson, and Jeff Barlow just to name a few. In his time with the Chiefs, Mahe had 26 points and 616 penalty minutes.

(The Chilliwack Progress / Black Press Media)

Shawn Germain

Germain came over to the Chiefs early in the 2001-02 season from the Bonnyville Pontiacs and was a steady defenseman for the Chiefs for two years.

In 2001-02, Germain didn’t have a goal during the regular season, but will forever be known for sending the Chiefs to the 2002 Fred Page Cup final by scoring his first goal in overtime against Nanaimo.

Henri St. Arnault

St. Arnault played three seasons with the Chiefs from 2002-05. In that span, he accumulated 31 goals and 98 points. St. Arnault is one of only a handful of players to play both in the old Chilliwack Coliseum and the new Chilliwack Coliseum (formerly Prospera Centre). I featured St. Arnault in an alumni interview in Oct. 2020.

The Smyl family

Despite the impacts of all the above players, the biggest connection between Chilliwack and St. Paul is Harvey Smyl, whose entire family is from the small Alberta town. Smyl had the biggest impact on the Chiefs by taking a team that missed the playoffs in 1992-93 and building it up to a BCHL championship just two seasons later. His legacy includes bringing in the likes of deMoissac, Boucher, and Chad Nelson along with the rest of the tough players from Alberta.

Smyl’s brother Dean sent him every player’s name from the St. Paul region to look at for the Chiefs during the 1990s and early 2000s. Dean is currently the general manager of the St. Paul Jr. Canadiens of the North Eastern Alberta Junior B Hockey League.

Harvey Smyl’s impact on the Chiefs is still felt today with several former players now in the coaching ranks. Among those using what Smyl taught them in their own coaching styles are the likes of Terry, Henderson, Travis Banga, and current Chiefs head coach Brian Maloney.

Current connections?

Even though the Chiefs haven’t had a player from St. Paul since St. Arnault, there is still a connection between the cities. Both the head coach and assistant coach of the Jr. Canadiens are former Chiefs’ players. The head coach is none other than Germain and his assistant is deMoissac.

The two have been coaching together with the Jr. Canadiens for the past four seasons. Between Germain, de Moissac, and Smyl in St. Paul, and former Chilliwack captain Maloney at the helm of the Chiefs, there could still be players from the town in east-central Alberta make their way to BC’s Fraser Valley to continue a connection that spans nearly 30 years.