The Chilliwack Chiefs have made a significant move to fix their biggest weakness from last year, signing 19 year old goalie Aidan Pelino.
A native of Oakville, Ontario, Pelino spent last season at Northwood School in Lake Placid, NY.
Chiefs head coach and general manager Jason Tatarnic kept a close eye on the stopper, as did many others.
“He was a key member of their team and a heavily sought after prospect throughout North America,” Tatarnic noted.
Pelino has yet to commit to an NCAA program, but Tatarnic said he’s drawing lots of interest.
“He’s a bigger goalie at six foot two,” Tatarnic said, delivering the scouting report. “He’s calm and positionally sound — not a guy who jumps around all over the place.”
Aidan is the nephew of Mike Pelino.
Most recently the head coach of the Kontinental (Russian) Hockey League’s Metallurg Magnitogorsk, Pelino has twice been an assistant coach at the National Hockey League level.
He patrolled the bench for the New York Rangers from 2004 to 2009, and did the same for the Florida Panthers in 2003-04.
“Aidan’s family has a great pedigree in the hockey world, and I know Aidan a little bit as a person,” Tatarnic said. “The background is there and he’s been around the game his whole life.”
The need to make a move in net had to be at the top of Tatarnic’s to do list once he took over.
No team in the 16 team BCHL surrendered more goals than Chilliwack in 2013-14. The Chiefs coughed up 285 goals, or 4.91 per game.
Lyndon Stanwood was the starter to begin the season, lasting just 13 games.
He won twice, posting a 4.14 goals-against average and .900 save percentage before the team cut him loose.
He resurfaced in Langley later in the year and was much better — an indication that the problem was just as much the team in front of them as the goalies themselves.
“When I first took over, and even before, I watched some tape and it’s unfair to pinpoint just the goaltenders,” Tatarnic said. “I think the whole defensive side of our game has to improve.”
Still, Spencer Tremblay and Josh Halpenny had horrible numbers, plus a penchant for allowing backbreaking goals at inopportune times.
Tremblay appeared in 25 games, winning seven with a 5.15 GAA and .878 SP.
In his second year with the club, Chilliwack native Halpenny appeared in 30 games, winning five with a 4.73 GAA and .883 SP.
Both are eligible to return in 2014-15.
“I talked to both of them and asked them the same question, ‘Do you want to be a starter?” Tatarnic said. “They both said they do, and I told them the opportunity to be a starter with us is not going to be there. So, we’re going to move both to places where they can be the starter.”
Tatarnic feels he’ll have a high comfort level with his new stopper, and believes Chief fans will appreciate his play.
“There’s a certain style of goalie that I like as a coach — I like them to have fair size, be calm, be poised and be able to handle the puck,” he said.
“I want them to make the first save, and occasionally a second or third save. I expect them to make the saves they’re supposed to make, and if they can do more than that, I think of it as a bonus.”
If Pelino’s high school sounds familiar, it’s because the Chiefs signed another player from there last week. Defenceman Vinnie Desharnais preceded Pelino, and provided one more reason for the netminder to sign in Chilliwack.
“I think Chilliwack will be a great experience and I’m excited to play another year with Vincent,” Pelino said. “It was impossible to say no to this opportunity and I couldn’t be happier to be part of the Chiefs family.”