The Chilliwack Chiefs have secured the services of a future Yale Lion.
New York native Cole Donhauser is joining the junior A team for the 2018-19 season, looking to spend one season in the BCHL before jumping to the NCAA ranks.
“A couple of my friends, Jake Smith and Matt Slick, played for Chilliwack and all I have heard is amazing things about the fans and the town,” the 19 year old said. “I’m extremely excited to be coming to a team that has such great support from its community, making it fun for the players and the fans.”
It was the Smith connection that first got Donhauser looking at the Chiefs.
“Jake (Smith) played at Nichols (prep school in Buffalo), which is where I’ve played the last four years, and I played with him a lot as we grew up together,” Donhauser explained. “Jake’s dad helped coach us at Nichols, and when I asked both of them about Chilliwack they had nothing but great things to say.
They thought it would be a great fit and I felt the same. I knew I wanted to go to the BCHL and I figured Chilliwack was the spot.”
There was the small problem of an abrupt coaching change in early May, with the Chiefs firing head coach Jason Tatarnic just before the RBC Cup.
Tatarnic was the man who reached out to Donhauser in February, and his sudden departure could have changed the teenager’s plans.
But followup phone calls to Smith and Matt Slick reassured Donhauser that Chilliwack was still the place to be.
“I played house-league with Matt (Slick) and we went to travel tournaments together, up until about peewee, and we’ve seen each other around Buffalo,” Donhauser said. “Matt was there (with the Chiefs) last year, and he said he likes the situation just as much, or even better, with coach (Brian) Maloney being hired, so I felt pretty comfortable sticking with my decision.”
Maloney is comfortable with that too.
“Cole is a very smart two way player that comes with great work ethic,” the coach said. “Jake Smith and his family spoke very highly of Cole and if he has just half of the character that Jake brought to the Chiefs then Cole will fit in nicely with our young core.”
Listed at five-foot-11 and 170 pounds on eliteprospects.com, Donhauser captained his Nichols team last year and put up excellent numbers.
He scored 32 goals and racked up 68 points in 56 games.
“I have a good shot with a really quick release, and I use that to open up my hands,” Donhauser said. “I like to compare my game to how you saw Alexander Ovechkin play during the playoffs. I’m not afraid to use my body while either scoring or creating scoring chances for my teammates.
“I’d say hockey IQ is one of my biggest attributes. I have really good vision and it helps me not only scoring but getting my teammates on the scoreboard.”
Donhauser was a defenceman up to his Grade 8 year before switching to forward.He’s happier up front, but the experience on D has given him a good feel for both ends of the ice.
“I always had pretty good hands and I wasn’t the greatest defenceman, so when I made that switch it really benefited me,” Donhauser said. “And I can still play D on the power play.”
As for what needs work, Donhauser said what every player says about needing to get bigger, stronger and faster.
“I’d say I need to work on my first three strides and my acceleration, and that’s my key focus right now,” he said. “My individual goal for next season will be to get stronger and faster to prepare myself for going on to Yale.”