Chilliwack Chiefs turn to Crimson Knight connection

Recruits from Connecticut’s Salisbury School have worked well in the past for the junior A team.

The Chilliwack Chiefs have dipped their line into a favourite fishing spot and landed three players for 2018-19.

The Connecticut based Salisbury School Crimson Knights sent Anthony Vincent, Tommy Lee, Cole Poliziani and David Jankowski west in 2016. Three of those players (Vincent/Lee/Poliziani) helped Chilliwack to a BCHL finals appearance in 2017 and Vincent and Lee became fan favourites the last two seasons.

So why not bring in more Salisbury skaters?

Kevin Wall, a 2000-born forward, comes to Chilliwack with an NCAA college commitment already in hand.

The New York native looks to eventually join Merrimack College and will be eligible to be drafted by a National Hockey League team next summer. In the meantime, he’s a skillful addition to the Chiefs forward corps, producing 17 goals and 28 points in 28 games for Salisbury last spring.

“He’s got some size to him at six-foot-one and 190 pounds and I’ve heard he’s really hard to knock off the puck,” Maloney said. “He plays above his age and he’s pretty mature for his age. He’s also got a really good shot and we’re going to have to find ways for him to get it off.”

Brett Willits had the best numbers of the three recruits, posting 17 goals and 38 points in 28 games.

The Canadian kid from London, Ontario is listed at five-foot-10 and 181 pounds, and plays centre.

“Brett was probably their (Salisbury’s) most consistent player,” Maloney said. “He’s a really smart two-way forward, probably more of a pass-first centerman.

“He’s a bit small in stature but he’s got some weight behind him and he’s going to be one of those reliable guys we lean on defensively as a younger team.”

Chris Brown, a 1999-born forward hailing from Worcester, Massachusetts, posted 11 goals and 19 points in 28 games with the Crimson Knights, and bills himself as a two-way player.

“I see myself as a hard working power forward who loves to score, but I also see myself as a two-way player who helps out in the defensive zone and can be playmaker in the offensive end,” he said. “Overall I think my best assets are my shot, vision and overall work ethic on the ice.”

Maloney sees a lot of himself in Brown and believes the player’s point totals don’t capture all of his value.

“He’s a big kid who’s probably a power forward, going up and down the wall with speed and a pretty darn good shot,” Maloney said. “He has a good nose for the net, he hangs around there a lot and gets a lot of his goals that way.

“He scored some big goals for Salisbury and I have a soft spot for the type of player he is because that’s the type of player I was, and I think he’s going to be a big part of our team.”

The Connecticut connection has been good for the Chiefs in recent years, dating back to Harvey Smyl and continuing on with Jason Tatarnic. Maloney didn’t want to let that slide when he took the reigns, and made it a priority to connect with Salisbury coach Andrew Will.

“It’s a fantastic program and they have a unbelievable coach in Andrew,” Maloney noted. “I wanted to make that phone call and get to know Andrew myself. We have a lot of the same ideas about the game and everything, and we had some good back-and-forth conversations about these players.

“Any time you can find high character guys from a program that has a winning tradition, we have open arms for those kids.”

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