It doesn’t take long for Chilliwack Chiefs head coach Jason Tatarnic to move on from a playoff loss.
The rest of the junior A world doesn’t stop moving, so neither can he. This is the time of year when Tatarnic puts on his general manager hat and starts constructing the roster that will hit the ice next August.
Next year’s crew will include a handful of returnees, including one potential surprise.
It was assumed Jordan Kawaguchi would be leaving to join the Providence Friars.
But that might not happen.
Providence has indicated they might want Kawaguchi to play another season of junior A, which would be fantastic for Chiefs fans but bothersome for Captain K. As of Thursday morning, his situation was still up in the air.
“I don’t know what their plans are for him,” Tatarnic said. “I don’t know what they’re doing.”
“We weren’t counting on Jordan or Kale Kane being back next season, so that throws a loop into the plans we had for some younger players.”
Tatarnic has Matteo Esposito set to return in net.
“At times he was really good for us and at other times he struggled,” Tatarnic noted. “Do we feel he’s a number one or is he not ready yet to take on a full load?”
“We’ll have to evaluate that.”
Olivier Arseneau, Connor McCarthy and Nolan Zweep should be back on D and the list of returning forwards potentially includes Kale Kane, Jesse Lansdell, Kohen Olischefski, Jake Smith, Aaron O’Neill and Linden Hora.
Tatarnic has already tweeted about one recruit up front.
Will Calverley just won a national championship, captaining his North York Rangers midget AAA team to a Telus Cup title. Calverley was player of the game twice in the tourney including a three point performance (two goals) in the semi-final.
The Chiefs also know they’ll have Austin Chorney in the fold next season as the highly-regarded blueline prospect makes the jump from the Yale hockey academy prep program. The Calgary native was a second round bantam draft pick of the Western Hockey League’s Moose Jaw Warriors and securing his services is a major win for Tatarnic.
“He’s a big physical kid for his age who skates well and competes hard,” the bench boss said. “He’s been identified as a good talent and comes from good bloodlines, with a dad who was a CFL player.”
“He’s got the genes.”
Last season Coach T did most of his recruiting in one state (Connecticut) with one team, signing nearly half his roster from one travel team.
He’ll spread it around a bit more this summer, although he did reveal he’s signing four players from one team.
“You’ll hear an announcement sometime after June 5,” Tatarnic said.
Lest anyone worry Tatarnic will overreact to Chilliwack’s playoff loss to the West Kelowna Warriors, he said he won’t change how he builds a roster based on the post-season result.
“There will be discussions at the BCHL summer meetings about the style of game the league play, and all of a sudden will teams change the way they recruit to try and win a championships?” Tatarnic said. “I still say no.”
“The style we play is fun and exciting for the fans and it’s the style they play in college.”
“And at the end of the day that’s what we’re here for, to get guys ready for that level.”
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