The Chilliwack Chiefs have added an unexpected piece at forward, with Ray Fust agreeing to join the BCHL club this fall.
The 17 year old had planned to wait a year and make his junior A debut in 2022-23, but COVID-19 forced him to reevaluate his options.
“We were recruiting him heavily last year, and he had decided he was probably going to finish up his schooling at Northwood (prep school in Lake Placid, NY) and come to us next year,” Chiefs hockey boss Brian Maloney explained. “But because of everything that’s going on with COVID, he’s now able to take schooling online.”
The Swiss-Canadian teenager has enjoyed what Maloney calls “a massive summer of training,” skating with players from Lausanne HC, a men’s pro team that plays at the top level in Switzerland, the National League. His father, John Fust, is the head of the youth development for Lausanne HC.
“He’s got a spot on the Swiss world junior team and he’s good enough where he’s been approached to sign with a Swiss pro team,” Maloney said. “But he’s a smart kid and he wants to come to Chilliwack, and potentially go to an NCAA Div 1 school.”
Fust’s eliteprospects.com page is impressive.
Playing for Northwood’s U18 team last season he was goal-per-game in the regular season with 12 snipes in 12 games.
In a three game stint with the Swiss U20 squad he produced two goals and an assist.
He will be eligible for the National Hockey League draft.
“He’s a big body at six-foot-two or three, and he plays a power forward game,” Maloney said. “He’s good around the net with soft hands for a big guy. We had some questions about his explosiveness and his first five strides, but since the pandemic began he’s become a gym rat. We watched him, online, at a recent tournament where he played for Switzerland and you could tell he’s picked up a few steps.
“He’s a humble kid who wanted to be more ready for juniors, and he’s ready.”
Chiefs associate head coach/general manager Brad Rihela said Fust plays with a physical edge and has “maturity well beyond his years.”
“He’s brings us size and a left-handed shot and he’s going to be a good player for us,” Maloney added.
His presence increases a projected log-jam at forward, which should lead to intense competition for a roster spot and ice-time.
He also provides insurance if Chilliwack’s three United States imports (Tommy Lyons, Joey Larson and Sasha Teleguine) have trouble getting across the border to play.
The Chiefs are officially able to start team activities Sept. 8 and the BCHL season is scheduled to start in early December.
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