It’s probably a case of a coach saying the things a coach should say, but Chilliwack Chiefs bench boss Brian Maloney says he’s been happy with the performance of every single returning vet so far.
“I was expecting more kids to maybe take it easy over the summer, and I haven’t seen that yet,” he said. “Maybe once we get rolling with back-to-back practices with more attention to detail, we’ll start to see guys branch off a bit, but it looks like all the guys had a real big summer.”
Maloney singled out a couple players as early excellers, including second year forward Carter Wilkie.
“He’s looked really good, and you can tell he was in the gym a lot,” the coach noted. “I know young Ethan Bowen had a great summer because he works out at the same gym I do and I’ve seen him in there quite often.
“He’s always had the raw ability, but I believe he’s realized what it will take to get to the next level and he’s learning to love the off-ice part of it.”
Chilliwack’s Brett Rylance appears poised for a second year jump, standing out in intra-squad games with his quickness.
Among the newcomers, Joey Larson is jumping off the page.
“I watched tons of game film and talked to my Michigan connections, and I knew the offensive ability was there, but I still wasn’t quite sure what he was going to be,” Maloney said. “He’s a lot thicker physically than I expected. He may be more of a power forward type than I thought he’d be, where I was expecting more of a finesse forward.
“Jack Agnew is another guy who I can tell had a big summer. He’s a kid who gets what it takes to get to the next level and I think our fans are going to enjoy what he does as a quiet, steady defenceman.”
With the roster near what it’ll be on opening night, the Chiefs host Surrey in preseason action Saturday (7 p.m.) at Prospera Centre.