Chilliwack Chiefs coach Jason Tatarnic will look to increase his team’s international footprint when he holds an evaluation camp in Los Angeles, CA.
Tatarnic heads south in late July (24-26), setting up shop in the Toyota Centre, home of the National Hockey League’s Anaheim Ducks.
“We know California is a hot-bed for good hockey players right now, and we want to establish our identity more down there,” he said. “When California kids are looking to play hockey, we want them thinking about the Chilliwack Chiefs.”
Tatarnic’s 2014-15 roster included two Cali kids.
Forward Luke McColgan was there from training camp, and goaltender David Jacobson arrived after Christmas.
Both were important players, but the bulk of the American imports came from Connecticut and Vermont.
“Last year we did well in the east, and this year we did well in the east, but you can never rest on just one area when you recruit,” Tatarnic noted. “You want to expand your recruiting area and to us, California’s right in our backyard. We want to get down there and open those doors.”
Tatarnic’s 2015-16 roster is almost fully stocked, meaning players he recruits at the LA camp won’t make an immediate impact.
“We’ve made it quite known that we recruit early, and we’ve already started the recruiting process for 2016-17,” the coach explained. “This camp is for a specific age group, kids we’ll be looking to identify and then invite to our spring camp in 2016.”
Tatarnic’s not placing any numerical expectations on the camp, knowing attendance might be underwhelming at first.
But he believes it will grow and grow over the next few years, and he’s done plenty of leg-work to promote it.
“The camp will be a success if we find one or two kids,” Tatarnic said. “They have some really good players, and some hidden players too, diamonds in the rough. Some of them might just need an opportunity to play somewhere.”
The team got positive results from an appearance in Rubber Magazine, a popular publication read by players and parents involved with California’s ice and inline hockey communities.
The team has posters up at the Toyota Centre and a link on the arena’s ‘camps and clinics’ page.
“We’ve contacted all the minor hockey associations down there to spread the word to their members,” Tatarnic added.
Chilliwack’s not the only BCHL team interested in California.
The Salmon Arm Silverbacks had a camp just outside of LA.
“They’re pretty aggressive, doing camps in California and Colorado,” Tatarnic said. “Every team’s different in the way they approach things. Our next thing is to establish one in Boston, and we’ve already selected the dates and started making contacts for next year.”
“Colorado’s getting bigger,” he added. “Texas is growing and the new one that’s really coming up is southern Florida. Even Ohio and Wisconsin, there’s lots of growth there.”
— The Chiefs have just released a new recruitment video which can be viewed on the team’s website at chilliwackchiefs.net or on YouTube (search Chilliwack Chiefs recruitment video).