Local hockey guru Jacob Bestebroer offers his thoughts on the Chilliwack Chiefs and BCHL in a weekly Chilliwack Progress column.
One of the things I like most about junior hockey, other than the word lockout never being a part of it, are the unpredictable player performances that happen each season. Sometimes it happens right from the start of the season, and sometimes it happens within a season.
A good example of that is last year’s performance of Chiefs forward Malcolm Gould.
Gould was coming off a 14 goal season in Quesnel, so it was fair to expect an increase to 20-25. For the first half the season that’s exactly the pace he was on. Then, in the second half he exploded for 24 goals, doubling his production through the first 30 games.
Josh Hansen has produced this year’s surprise performance. He finished with a career high 12 goals in 58 games in 2011-12. This season he leads the league with 11 goals after just 14 games.
Hansen’s contributions to the Chiefs the last two seasons were not measured in offensive output. He was the dependable defensive player who always gave an honest effort. He was a key player on the penalty kill and his leadership was a big part of the team.
Any offensive output was a bonus.
His numbers this season are not by accident. He’s not a fighter and he doesn’t run around looking to throw big hits, but he plays a quietly physical game.
He pays the price to gain the advantage in puck battles. Watch him next game and you’ll see him fight for position in front of the opposition net, especially on the power play.
Several of his goals this season have come on rebounds from within five feet of the net. He’s getting to those rebounds first because of his strength and hard work. Credit the off-season work he put in to make himself stronger.
And of course, playing with two smart offensive players in Luke Esposito and Austin Plevy doesn’t hurt.
Speaking of Plevy, his strong start has earned him an invitation to Canada West’s selection camp next week in Calgary. Plevy is one of 60 players trying to earn a spot on the team that will represent BC/Alberta at the World Junior A Challenge in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia from Nov. 5 – 11. Plevy is the only Chief invited. Ten of 16 BCHL teams have at least one player invited.
The next home game is Nov. 7 versus the Langley Rivermen.