Column: Chilliwack Chiefs go historically young on D

Jacob Bestebroer notes that it's been more than two and a half decades since two 16 year olds skated on the Chiefs blueline.

  • Sep. 22, 2016 6:00 a.m.

Hockey season is back, and so is Jacob Bestebroer with his weekly column discussing the Chilliwack Chiefs and the BCHL.It’s not easy to crack the lineup of a BCHL team as a 16 year old.  Rules only permit teams to have two on their roster at any given time, and they both have to be residents of BC.  And they have to be good enough to play at a level which is a huge step up from where they played the previous season. This season the Chilliwack Chiefs have two 16 year olds on their roster and making it even more impressive is the fact that they are both defenceman. We haven’t seen that on a Chiefs roster in 26 years, dating back to the first year the team played in Chilliwack. In fact, prior to this season, only eight other 16 year old defencemen have played regularly for the Chiefs. Back in the 1990-91 season, Chilliwack native and current Chiefs assistant coach Paul Nicolls was joined on the blueline by Chris Kerr. Nicolls played in 44 games, scoring four goals and adding 15 assists. Kerr’s season was marred by injuries but he got into 32 games scoring once and adding three assists. Three seasons later Brad Hodgins played 53 games scoring three goals and adding ten assists. The 16 year old version of current Langley Rivermen head coach Bobby Henderson was with the Chiefs for 20 games during the 1998-99 season before it was cut short by an injury.  He went on to set the Chiefs record for most regular season games played with 222.Blake Cosgrove was the second player from Chilliwack to do it when he played in 57 games during the 2002-03 season.Nolan Julseth-White, also a resident of Chilliwack appeared in 57 games during the 2004-05 season, scoring three goals and ten assists.  During the 2005-06 season, the Chiefs final year during their initial stint in Chilliwack Chris Ickert scored six goals and twenty points in 52 games. The most impressive season by a Chiefs 16 year old defencemen occurred two seasons ago when Dennis Cholowski put up 27 points, including four goals, in 55 games. Cholowski of course was a first round selection by the Detroit Red Wings in last summer’s National Hockey League Entry Draft. This season, 16 year olds Austin Chorney and Powell Connor are both playing a regular shift on the Chiefs defence and neither one of them have looked out of place thus far.  The future is bright for both these youngsters. I know there are multiple NCAA schools here this weekend at the BCHL Showcase keeping a close eye on them. The Chiefs will be looking to break a two game losing streak when they host the Alberni Valley Bulldogs tonight (Friday). Note the game time is 7:30 p.m.  The BCHL Showcase continues at Prospera Centre though Sunday with five games on Saturday and two on Sunday.