With his Western Hockey League playing career at an end, ex-Chilliwack Bruin Cody Smuk has found a new hockey home.
The 21 year old has signed on with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies, part of a six-member all-WHL recruiting class.
Smuk comes back to his hometown after spending four seasons in major junior hockey. Originally a bantam draft pick of the Vancouver Giants, Smuk was traded to Chilliwack in time to suit up for all 72 games during the inaugural 2006-07 season.
He played another 60 games for the Bruins in 2007-08 before being dealt to the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
Smuk had nine goals, 30 points and 151 penalty minutes in Chilliwack, establishing himself as a pesky checking winger.
He only played 21 games for the Canes before being moved to Moose Jaw, where he played another 118 regular season and seven playoff games before calling it a career.
Smuk is one of two forwards commiting to the Huskies.
The other is ex-Edmonton Oil King and Prince Albert Raider Craig McCallum.
Last season, McCallum tallied 72 points in 72 games and was chosen the Raiders top defensive forward.
“The Huskies have a good program and they’re going to host nationals while I’m in a uniform,” he said. “I don’t know if there’s any place better to play.”
The Huskers are adding three defencemen; Ryan Funk, Curtis Kulchar and Garrett Thiessen.
Funk (Morden, Man.) spent four seasons with the Saskatoon Blades before splitting time with the Kamloops Blazers and Vancouver Giants in his final WHL season.
The six foot and 180 pound defenceman tallied 15 goals, 56 assists and 454 penalty minutes in 276 major juniorgames.
“After playing with the Blades for four seasons, I had great connections to the city,” said Funk, who wore the captain’s C for the Blazers. “I have strong leadership abilities and am strong defensively. It will be a little different not being the older guy on the team. But I like the CIS game and look forward to stepping up and using my speed and strength to help the Huskies.”
Kulchar, a six-foot-one and 190 pound defenceman from Martensville, Sask., spent time with the Blazers, Giants, Everett Silvertips and Regina Pats. In 162 games, he had four goals, 12 assists and 153 penalty minutes.
Kulchar also won two Telus Cup championships with the midget Prince Albert Mintos in 2006-07 and 2007-08.
“I am a solid defenceman that is all over the ice and I have a strong work ethic on and off the ice,” said Kulchar. “I hope the transition into the CIS will be smooth as possible. Having to adjust to balancing hockey and school again is a challenge I am looking forward to.”
Thiessen captained the Prince George Cougars last season. The six-foot-one and 200 pound blueliner also spent time with the Raiders and Blazers. In 249 games, Thiessen tallied two goals, 23 assists and 526 penalty minutes.
The Huskies also added a goaltender, inking ex-Medicine Hat Tiger Ryan Holfeld. Holfeld spent four seasons in the Hat before leaving to play with the BCHL’s Victoria Grizzlies.
Holfeld (Leroy, Sask.) finished his WHL career with a 64-39-9-4 record with a 2.85 goals against average and a .896 save percentage. He won a WHL championship with the Tigers in 2007. With Victoria, he finished with a 17-10 record and a 2.55 GAA.
“The Huskies are a quality team, are always at the top of the standings, and are close to my home. It really was a no-brainer decision for me,” Holfeld said. “I have a strong work ethic and I really think I can help motivate the guys to get back to the finals. I’ll do what it takes to help the team.”
The Huskies host the CIS University Cup in 2013 and 2014 and open the 2010-11 season on the road, facing the University of Regina.