By Eric Welsh, Chilliwack Progress
The NCAA’s loss is the Chilliwack Chiefs gain as a familiar face rejoins the BCHL club.
With the shutting down of the Ivy League men’s hockey season due to COVID-19, Kyle Penney needed a place to play. The Cornell commit arrived in Chilliwack Friday morning to rejoin the junior A club. After 14 days of quarantine he’ll be back in action.
“Obviously it’s a little bittersweet having my college season cancelled, but it’s a great opportunity for me to get back with the few guys I know with the Chiefs, play some hockey and have a good time,” Penney said. “They seem to have a good team here.”
The Nova Scotia product enjoyed his short stay at Cornell, where he said the Big Red were on the ice five or six times a week and worked out another four times a week.
“I got to know all the guys on the team and I was excited to play with them,” Penney said. “The seniors I got to know, this is especially tough for them because this was supposed to be their last go at it.
“We were getting ready to go and it all happened so quickly. One day it all got shut down and that’s how it goes.”
But Chilliwack isn’t a bad fallback option.
Penney said there is a comfort level with Chiefs head coach/general manager Brian Maloney and his assistants, Brad Rihela and Andrew Shaw. From last year’s roster, he’s reunited with Brett Rylance, Nick Cherkowski, Tommy Lyons, Ethan Bowen, Connor Milburn, Brody Gagno, Hudson Thornton, Xavier Henry and Mathieu Caron.
“Chilliwack’s a great place and I had a great year last year in this organization,” Penney said. “I’m excited to get it going again.”
Maloney needed to make a move to fit Penney on the roster, and he did that earlier this week when he traded Wyatt Schlaht to the West Kelowna Warriors.
Penney takes Schlaht’s place as the sixth 20 year old on the Chiefs, and Maloney called it a “great day for the organization.”
“Kyle is a player that epitomizes what it is to be a Chilliwack Chief, on and off the ice,” Maloney said. “We are really looking forward to the opportunity to work with Kyle again as soon as his quarantine period ends.”
The six-foot-one and 194 pounder brings a great mix of skill and grit.
Penney produced 22 goals and 41 points in 65 games last season and was named the team’s MVP.
“His offensive ability, grit, and competitiveness are going to be great to add back into our lineup,” Maloney noted. “He will again be a positive influence in our locker room, and his understanding of our systems should allow the transition of coming back into the lineup to be somewhat seamless for Kyle.”