Article Written By: Eric Clarke of the BCHLNetwork.ca
The Chilliwack Chiefs are coming into the 2019-20 season with a revamped roster from the ground up. Right now the Chiefs only have eight players returning from the roster that was the BCHL’s best team in the regular season and was bounced in the second round by the eventual Fred Page Cup and Doyle Cup champion Prince George Spruce Kings. So far this off-season, the Chiefs have added a goalie, five defencemen, and six forwards.
Starting with the last line of defence – the goaltenders. The Chiefs acquired Kolby Thornton this off-season after sending veteran Daniel Chenard to the Wenatchee Wild for future considerations. The move opens up the door for Mathieu Caron to be the teams clear number one netminder between the pipes. Thornton comes to the team from the Neepawa Natives of the MJHL, where he posted a 3.79 goals-against-average and a .903 save percentage last season.
On the back end, the Chiefs will have one of the youngest defence cores in the league this year with only one player over the age of 19. The Chiefs added five new defencemen with no junior A experience, starting with high profile defencemen Cooper Moore. Moore was drafted by Detroit Red Wings in the 5th round of this past June’s NHL draft. After finishing last year with 31 points in 28 games as an alternate captain at Brunswick School, Moore will look to improve his game even further to get him ready to play alongside former Chief Jordan Kawaguchi at the University of North Dakota in 2020-21.
The Chiefs also added to their NHL bloodlines with the signing of 16 year old Garrett Valk, son of former veteran NHL forward Garry Valk. The North Vancouver native posted 19 points for the Vancouver NW Hawks last season and played three games as an affiliate player for the Chiefs.
Up front, the Chiefs look to improve on their 209 goals from last year with the addition of Minnesota Wild 6th round draft pick and New York native Nikita Nesterenko. He had 30 goals and 59 points in 31 games for Lawrenceville in the USHS Prep League in 2018-19. The Brown University commit will look to play on the Chiefs’ top line along with returnee Ethan Bowen.
The Chiefs also added another high profile player to the mix in 16-year-old Peter Reynolds. He is a highly touted player from Shattuck St. Mary’s, where he posted 71 points in 59 games last season. He received an invite to the World U17 Challenge summer camp as well as a scholarship to Boston College for the 2022-23 season. At the Hockey Canada summer camp, Reynolds led team green with six points in three games.
The Chiefs have also added a versatile two-way forward Jake Veri. Last year, Veri had 13 points in 14 games with the Compuware U18 team. The Northville, Michigan native also played two games for the Lone Star Brahmas in the NAHL. The Chiefs have added to their future this off-season and will have a nice group of talented young players to build around for the next couple of years.
The new players will get their first taste of BCHL action on August 23rd when the Chiefs open their preseason against the Wenatchee Wild. The Chiefs open the regular season against their first round opponent and rival – the Langley Rivermen. The hometown faithful will get to see the exciting new players at their home opener on September 20th against the Spruce Kings.