Chilliwack Chiefs roster looks loaded as 2017-18 BCHL season starts

The junior A club is gunning for a Royal Bank Cup championship on home ice next spring.

During the BCHL season, Jacob Bestebroer writes a weekly column about the Chilliwack Chiefs and goings on around the junior A world.

The Chilliwack Chiefs enter the 2017-18 season having won the BCHL’s Mainland division playoff championship three consecutive times.

While it won’t be easy, I like their chances for a fourth.

The division has a different look this season with the Wenatchee Wild moving to the Interior. The Chiefs and Wild have met for the division title in each of the last two seasons so this move alone makes the task easier for each of the Mainland’s five teams.

Player turnover at this level is always high but the number of returning players this season, five, is as low as I can remember it being.

The Chiefs didn’t carry many extra players during the preseason so we got a pretty good look at the team they will start the season with. They won three of four exhibition games, which means little, but there were signs in each of the four games that point to a successful season.

The Chiefs top line consisted of returnee Will Calverley, along with rookies Corey Andonovski and Bobby Young. They were consistently dangerous in each of the four games.

Calverley will be the captain this year which comes as no surprise. After showing Will and his family around when they first arrived in Chilliwack two springs ago I clearly remember saying to another Chiefs scout ‘If this kid’s here more than one year, he’s wearing the C.”

Highly touted newcomers Harrison Blaisdell and Skyler Brind’Amour spent time on a line together and looked good. Both of their fathers were National Hockey League players and don’t be surprised to see both of these players follow their hockey path to that level. Brind’Amour is already a draft pick of the Edmonton Oilers. Blaisdell is just 16 and will have to wait till 2019 to hear his name called at the NHL draft.

After the trade of Colin Bernard to Langley earlier this week, 17 year old Powell Connor is now the Chiefs only returning defenseman. Five of the seven D-men on the team are rookies. As a group they’ve looked good so far. The addition of 20 year old Bryan Allbee, who brings 146 games of Western Hockey League experience with him, is really going to help this team.

The goaltending, while young, has looked good. Daniel Chenard, who turns 18 in October, will likely get the majority of starts. His performance during the pre season, which included a 37 save shutout against Langley, proved that he’s ready for the challenge. He’ll be backed up by 17 year old Mathieu Caron, who spent quite a bit of time last season with the Chiefs as an affiliate player.

A short personal note. I missed most of last season due to medical reasons. Over the last few weeks I’ve been getting back to the rink on a regular basis and I want to thank all the Chiefs fans and volunteers who have welcomed me back with open arms and words of encouragement.

It is much appreciated.

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