The Chilliwack Chiefs added a pair of 20-year-old skaters to their roster Tuesday, making three separate transactions at the BCHL trade deadline.
General manager Harvey Smyl started off by acquiring defenceman Anderson White from the USHL’s Des Moines Buccaneers. White was acquired for future considerations, giving Smyl a veteran defender with a BCHL background.
White, a native of Caldeon, Ontario, had one goal and four points in 22 games with the Bucs. The six-foot-three and 210 pound blueliner also had 14 penalty minutes.
“Anderson is a good skater who is difficult to play against in his own end and is capable of chipping in offensively as well,” Smyl said in a news release announcing the deal.
The BCHL ties are from White’s time with the Quesnel Millionaires.
The defenceman spent parts of two seasons with the Mills, logging 36 games in 2009-10 and 60 in 2010-11. He had three goals, 12 points and 80 penalty minutes in those 96 games.
Those numbers don’t suggest underlying offensive potential. But Smyl believes it’s there.
“With him we certainly wanted to get bigger and more mobile back there, and he brings both those attributes,” Smyl said. “I’m not sure he was used in those offensive type situations, but from the guys I’ve talked to, he’s able to contribute given the opportunities. We’re hoping he’ll progress in that area.”
Smyl’s second deal of the day saw defenceman Mike Berry shipped to Salmon Arm for future considerations.
The 18-year-old defenceman had two goals and 10 points in 34 games this season, and might have been the odd man out on a veteran laden blueline that now includes three 20-year-olds in Ty Miller, Matthew Hutchinson and White.
Miller’s recovery from a shoulder injury is also progressing much faster than expected.
“Once Miller’s back, Mike would be a sixth or seventh guy,” Smyl noted. “Knowing how much he wants to play and play in this league, we didn’t think it would be a healthy situation for him here. Salmon Arm knows him and what he’s capable of doing and it’s a much better scenario.”
Smyl’s third deal of the day was also related to Salmon Arm, in a roundabout sort of way.
The Silverbacks sent 20-year-old forward Kody Dhaliwal to the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s Flin Flon Bombers on Monday in exchange for future considerations.
The Bombers turned around and dealt him to Chilliwack on Tuesday, also for futures.
In Dhaliwal, Smyl acquires a player he is very familar with. The Surrey native played for Smyl’s Langley Chiefs the last two seasons.
Dhaliwal had 10 goals and 19 assists for 29 points in 59 games for the Chiefs last year, and had 10 goals and 22 points in 38 games for Salmon Arm this year.
Smyl likes the experience Dhaliwal brings to the club.
“Kody knows what the Chiefs hockey club expects from their players both on and off of the ice to be successful,” he said in a news release announcing the deal. “He is tenacious, very good in the face-off circle and is defensively responsible.”
Like White, Dhaliwal is another player Smyl feels has untapped offensive upside. Smyl recognized it when he was coaching Langley, but he couldn’t provide Dhaliwal with the offensive opportunities needed to shine.
With his current roster, Smyl feels he can put Dhaliwal in position to succeed at both ends of the ice.
“The biggest thing about Kody is that he really wants to be here, which is great to have in a player who already plays a determined game,” Smyl said. “Offensively, his stats aren’t great, but at the junior B level he put up some very good numbers. He does get the chances, it’s just a matter of execution around the net.”
With the dealing done, the Chiefs (19-14-0-2) now prepare for a busy weekend on the ice, starting with a Friday night home ice clash with the Prince George Spruce Kings (19-13-2-3).
Chilliwack comes into the weekend fourth in the Interior conference, three points back of PG with two games in hand.
Winning these head to head games is essential as both teams jockey for one of four available playoff spots.
Chilliwack has two wins, one loss and one overtime loss in the four head-to-head meetings so far, though the Sprucies have taken the last two.
In the most recent meeting, on Dec. 28, Paul de Jersey had one goal and three assists, setting up linemate Michael Colantone’s hat-trick as PG took a 4-2 final at Prospera Centre.
On Saturday, the Chiefs head to Merritt for another crucial matchup.
The Centennials head into the weekend second in the Interior conference, and if Chilliwack hopes to catch them it has to start now.
The Chiefs trail Merritt by nine points, though they hold three games in hand.
The Cents (21-10-2-5) have gone 6-3-0-1 over their last 10 to gain some breathing room in the standings.
Chilliwack has one win, two losses and an overtime loss in four head-to-head meetings thus far.
The Cents shut out the Chiefs 1-0 in their last matchup on Dec. 30, getting 20 saves from goaltender Lino Chimienti and the lone goal from Brent Fletcher.
Chilliwack’s final game of the weekend comes Sunday night as they take on the BCHL bottom feeding Trail Smoke Eaters.
Trail has managed just six wins (6-24-1-4) this season and just traded their top scorer (Clayton Chessa) to the Vernon Vipers.
Vernon then flipped Chessa to Nanaimo.
While no game is ever a given, this is as close as it gets in the BCHL.
Chilliwack has won all four previous meetings with the Smokies this year.