After months of COVID-caused delays, it’s time to talk hockey. The Chilliwack Chiefs are set to hit the ice for a shortened BCHL season that starts in early April. We dove into the Chilliwack roster on Friday (Mar. 19), discussing goaltending. We continue today (Mar. 22) with a look at the D followed tomorrow (Mar. 23) by a rundown on the forwards.
The blueline crew that starts the shortened 2020-21 season isn’t the group that was here at the start.
Luke Krys and Hudson Thornton left for the USHL, leaving Chilliwack hockey boss Brian Maloney with two big spots to fill. He feels he’s done that, building a dependable unit led by three 20-year-olds and one returning stalwart.
“The group we’ve got has good size and it’s mobile puck-moving group,” Maloney said. “We have a good mix of younger and older guys. I like our experience. We have guys playing their third year of junior hockey and we haven’t had that too much in previous years.”
Six-foot-five Xavier Henry is the returnee from last year’s team, joined by 20s Jackson Munro, Tyler McBay and Trevor Longo.
Munro came via trade from Alberni Valley in early November and is a player Maloney loves.
“He’ll be heading off to Brown University next year,” he noted. “He’s a smooth skating offensive-minded defenceman who is going to log a lot of minutes for us.”
Longo brings 143 games of Western Hockey League experience with the Medicine Hat Tigers and Vancouver Giants. He also has BCHL experience from short stints in Langley (2016-17) and Salmon Arm (2017-18).
“He’s not just a guy who was in the WHL, he’s a guy who was logging over 20 minutes a game at that level last year,” Maloney said. “He’s a guy who will play in a lot of situations for us, and he can be a good mentor for our young guys.”
Tyler McBay was acquired from Ontario’s Wellington Dukes. He was good enough to make Team Canada East for the 2018 World Junior A Challenge, and Maloney likes what he’ll bring.
“He’s a good reliable defenceman who isn’t too flashy, but he’s got a great attitude and he’ll be a good addition.”
Eighteen-year-old Lachlan Getz comes from Union College, the same school that gave the Chiefs Nikita Nesterenko. He’s tall (six-foot-three), skates well and has physical bite to his game.
“And as he gets comfortable, there may be a lot more offence to his game,” Maloney added.
Chilliwack’s own Lucas Bourdon started the season with the junior B Chilliwack Jets, and Maloney said the 17-year-old has forced himself into the Chiefs roster mix through determination and hard work.
“This kid never stops,” the coach said. “I love kids that want to come and bring it every day and he’s earned everything he’s got. I see him fighting his way into more ice time, and usually kids that work like he does get rewarded.”
The final player is another 17-year-old, Abram Wiebe.
“Not a lot of people talk about him, but he’s a future 1-2 defenceman in this league, and he may already be ready to play a lot of minutes for us,” Maloney said. “He’s going to make some mistakes, but he’s kind of got ice in his veins and I don’t think he understands how good he can be.”
Chilliwack will be hosting Merritt and Prince George in a three-team pod with all games at the Chilliwack Coliseum.
The BCHL has not yet released a schedule for the 20 expected games.