Though his young team has yet to light the BCHL on fire this season, Chilliwack Chiefs head coach/general manager Brian Maloney clearly believes in his crew.
The hockey boss has made several roster moves over the last month and a half, and all of them point to belief that his Chiefs can make serious noise in next spring’s playoffs.
Maloney’s added two 19 year olds (Tommy Lyons and Nicholas Cherkowski) and two 20 year olds (Davis Murray and Trevor Adams).
“Every coach and GM puts a team together at the start of the year and hopes for that team to be good, and we believe that we are,” Maloney said. “We believe that we have the skill and goaltending and defence to be a darn good hockey team.”
That said, Maloney’s team has been inconsistent in the first half of the season.
“And we’ve probably been too easy to play against many nights, so we’ve added some size and some kids who can hang on to pucks and make plays,” Maloney said. “We started the season as a run-and-gone one-and-done type of team that scores off the rush, and we wanted to get a bit heavier because we know what playoffs will be like.
“We want to lug the puck a bit and make plays down low rather than try to wow everyone in the stands, and a guy like Davis (Murray) is a guy who will do that.”
Same with Trevor Adams, a versatile vet who came to the Chiefs from West Kelowna in a trade for Carter Wilkie.
The Michigan product isn’t the biggest player, but he plays the type of gritty game that Maloney is looking for.
After spending the first 122 games of his BCHL career with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, Adams is playing for his third team this season, looking for stability.
“It’s been kind of a whirlwind year for me, but I’m happy that I ended up in Chilliwack and so far so good,” Adams said. “It’s been a little nerve-wracking not knowing what the next day holds, but things happen for a reason and hopefully I can find some stability here, because I’d love to call this place home.”
A hungry player looking for one last playoff run is a valuable addition.
“Anywhere I go, I try to assert my leadership because I feel that’s one of the things I bring to the table,” Adams said. “I’d describe myself as a lead-by-example sort of guy, but I can also be a voice in the locker room.
“The biggest thing I bring is just an even-keel factor. When things are going good, we never want to be too high on the bench, and when things are going poorly we don’t want to be too low, and one of things I bring is just that steady even-keel presence.”
Their most recent game against the league-leading Coquitlam Express showed what the Chiefs can be when they’re on.
They overcame a 2-0 deficit on the road Nov. 29 before falling 3-2 in a shootout.
They’ve won three straight since then — 3-2 and 5-2 victories at Prince George last Thursday and Friday and a 4-1 home ice triumph over Trail Sunday — and the sense is the team may be ready to go on a tear.
“We have just as much skill, if not more, than Coquitlam and I think we’re right there with them,” Adams said. “If we battle every night, we’re going to have a lot of success.
“Playing on a few teams in my career, this is the most special atmosphere I’ve felt. It’s exciting to be around this group of guys and see what the future holds for us.”
Chilliwack has three more games before the Christmas break.
The Chiefs are home Friday, hosting the Langley Rivermen. They finish on the road with games Saturday against Alberni Valley (16-13-0-2), Sunday against Victoria (11-23-0-0) and Tuesday against West Kelowna (5-21-4-2).
The first two games after the Christmas break are huge, a home-and-home against the Express (28-5-0-0), starting with a Dec. 28 date at the Chilliwack Coliseum.