Column: Memories from Chilliwack Chiefs home openers

The Langley Rivermen are in town for Friday night’s opener at Prospera Centre.

During the BCHL season, Jacob Bestebroer writes a weekly column focusing on the Chilliwack Chiefs and goings-on around the junior A world.

After a not so great start to the season this past weekend in Prince George (more on that in a bit), the Chiefs will play their 23rd Chilliwack home opener Friday night at Prospera Centre versus the Langley Rivermen.

Of the first 22 home openers, all of which I’ve had the pleasure of attending, there are three that stand out to me.

The Chiefs first home opener was played on Saturday Sept. 22, 1990.

After two Chilliwack BCHL teams (the Colts and Eagles) had failed miserably both on and off the ice, the Chiefs got off to an incredible start that night.

Facing the Bellingham Ice Hawks (who are now the Trail Smoke Eaters), the Chiefs, led by legends Joey Potskin and Marc Gagnon throttled the Ice Hawks 9-2 in front of more than 1,900 fans who jammed the old Chilliwack Coliseum.

Potskin and Gagnon both scored twice and added three assists, to set the team record that still stands for most point in a home opener.

Fourteen years later the Chiefs made their debut at Prospera Centre. 3,953 fans were in attendance to watch the Chiefs score their only overtime win in a home opener, a 3-2 decision over the Surrey Eagles.

Peter Bogdanich scored the winner. This games remains the highest attended home opener.

After leaving Chilliwack for five seasons, the Chiefs returned in 2011.

Not much was expected from the team. The opposite could be said for their opponent in that season’s home opener, the Penticton Vees.

The Vees were a juggernaut who, later that season, won a BCHL record 42 straight games on their way to winning the national championship.

Final score Chiefs 7 Vees 1.

I think we need to remember that night when looking at the Chiefs start to this season, a 5-5 tie Friday night and an 8-2 loss Saturday, both in Prince George.

Some other notes and stats from the first 22 seasons.

The Chiefs record in home openers is 12 wins, eight losses, one overtime loss and one shootout loss. They’ve scored 97 goals and allowed 77.

They’ve faced four teams that either no longer exist or have moved.

In addition to the aforementioned Bellingham Ice Hawks, the Chiefs played the Kelowna Spartans in 1993 (1-0 loss), the Royal City Outlaws in 1994 (6-5 win) and the Quesnel Millionaires in 1996 (4-2 win).

They’ve played the Surrey Eagles in 12 home openers including nine straight beginning in 1997. They won seven of those games, losing four to go with an overtime loss.

Jeremy Jackson holds the team record for goals in a home opener when he scored four times in a 10-4 win over Surrey in 1999.

Ten goals scored is also the team record. Jeff Royston is the only other player to record a home opener hat trick when he scored three times in a 6-3 win over Surrey in 2002.

David Spence holds the record for most saves (44) against the Millionaires in 1996.

Lots going on Friday night. Check chilliwackchiefs.net for all the details.

jb@chilliwackchiefs.net