Anthony Vincent (right) won three prep school titles with the venerable Salisbury School Crimson Knights

Anthony Vincent (right) won three prep school titles with the venerable Salisbury School Crimson Knights

Chilliwack Chiefs go big with Connecticut prep hockey connection

For the second straight year the BCHL team has signed several players from one team, this time the Salisbury School Crimson Knights.

Chilliwack Chiefs general manager Jason Tatarnic has done it again, snagging several players from one Connecticut-based prep team.

Tatarnic has signed four forwards from the storied Salisbury Crimson Knights, winners of three of the last four New England division I ice-hockey championships.

Anthony Vincent was on the roster for all three titles and captained the team to a quarter-final appearance last season. He heads west, joined by Tom Lee, David Jankowski and Cole Poliziani.

All are 1997 born.

All are excited to take the next step in their hockey journey together.

“We felt it would be an easier transition moving out to British Columbia,” Vincent explained. “I’ll be there for them and they’ll be there for me.”

“And we’ll have that built-in chemistry rather than having to start fresh.”

This time last year, Tatarnic imported nearly half his roster from Connecticut when he signed eight players from the Wolf Pack, a U-18 team that captured the 2015 USA Hockey Tier 1 U-18 National Championship.

Vimal Sukumaran, Kale Kane, Jeremy Germain, Jake Smith, Zach Giuttari and Matteo Esposito were key components of a Chiefs team that advanced to the BCHL final.

If it worked so well once, why not try it again?

“Coming from a quality school like Salisbury, we know they are prepared to make the move to our league,” Tatarnic said in a press release. “They are four quality individuals who will bring the character that we expect from our players.”

“All four are skilled players who will be able to contribute offensively.”

Vincent played with Sukumaran and Kane at Salisbury and heard from both throughout last season.

They had nothing but good things to say about the Chiefs program.

“I also knew Jake Hand, who was out there for a couple years before that,” Vincent said. “Hearing about their experiences and how the coaching staff is one of, if not the best in the BCHL, I felt this could really help improve my game.”

While Sukumaran has departed for NCAA hockey and the Providence Friars, Kane remains, giving Vincent another familiar face as he moves from one side of the continent to the other.

“I can’t wait for that,” Vincent said. “It’s going to be fun.”

None of the new faces comes with an NCAA commitment in hand.

Vincent has heard from division three programs, but hopes a solid season catapults him onto the division one radar.

“The most important thing Jason (Tatarnic) said to me was that Chilliwack isn’t looking for the best players, they’re looking for the hardest working players,” Vincent said. “I think I fit that role pretty well and I should be able to help the team out.”

That in no way should imply that Vincent is a lunch-bucket guy who can’t put up points.

He tallied 10 goals and 24 points in 26 games last year in addition to his non-stop motor and a strong two-way game.

“Definitely my second-chance scoring could use improvement,” Vincent said. “Finishing my opportunities when they come and not taking anything for granted — that’s going to be a focus for me this season.”

Tom Lee probably brings the most flash. Standing five-foot-10 and weighing 165 pounds, the Calgary native is slight in stature.

But he had nine goals and 32 points in 24 games.

“Tommy is a very skilled player who has good hands and vision,” Tatarnic noted. “He’s a smart player who will provide offence for us and add character to our team.”

“He’s small but he uses his size well because he’s really shifty,” Vincent added.

Jankowski, who hails from Dundas, ON., collected seven goals and 23 points in 26 games and Poliziani rolled up six goals and 14 points in 24 outings.

“Cole is a good two-way player with character who competes extremely hard, and we expect him to step right into our lineup and contribute in a big way at both ends of the ice,” Tatarnic said.

“David is a very smart player who brings size to our forward group (six foot one and 175 pounds). We think he can contribute offensively.”

Vincent believes they are ready to make the leap on and off the ice.

“Vimal and Kale both said to think of it like prep school where you’re away from your family and you need to  invest time into your teammates and the program,” he said. “On the ice, the BCHL has a rep for having more high-end players and being better for player development.”

“Playing in this league should open up more options for the future.”