When I saw the list of six players that were voted to the Chilliwack Chiefs 25th anniversary dream team, the memories came flooding back.
I have vivid first memories of each players, some predating their first game in a Chiefs uniform.
My first memory of Doug Ast comes from the Chilliwack Peewee Jamboree. He would have been 12 or 13 years old at the time. He was a good player but it wasn’t his play that stood out to me.
It was the length his hair, which covered the number on the back of his jersey.
He spent three years as a Chief, two as team captain.
He still holds the team record for career goals (101) and points (242).
I didn’t know Doug on a personal level when he played but when the Chiefs returned to Chilliwack in 2011 we ended up working together for three seasons and it was a great experience.
I saw Jeff Tambellini play two games of junior B when he was 15 years old.
Wow was he good.
During the summer after that season, knowing there was a chance he would be coming to the Chiefs I went to the BC Hockey U-17 camp in Osoyoos to see how he stacked up against the best of his age group.
He was by far the best forward there.
He started slow as a Chief but after playing in the World U-17 Challenge midway through his first season he really took off. During his second season he lead the league in scoring with 117 points and was named the Canadian Junior A Player of the Year.
Shawn Horcoff was absolutely dominant in his one season with the Chiefs.
Just 17 years old he scored 49 goals and added 96 assists in 58 games.
His injury during the second round of the playoffs in 1996 against the Langley Thunder was the reason the Chiefs lost that series.
After two seasons at Michigan State he was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in the fourth round of the 1998 NHL Draft. At the time I didn’t understand how 98 players were selected ahead of him. As of today only eight of those 98 players have played in more NHL games than Horcoff’s 930.
Brandon Fleenor and Don Nichols were a dominant duo on defense during the 1998-99 season. Nichols had 18 goals while Fleenor added 16. They played a ton as the team advanced to the league finals versus the Vernon Vipers.
Their styles were very different.
Nichols was a smooth skating finesse player with play making ability. He’s still playing pro hockey in Holland.
Fleenor was as tough a player that has ever worn a Chiefs uniform. He didn’t often go looking for trouble but if any opposing player was looking for it, he supplied it.
Curtis Darling was the easy choice as team MVP both seasons he played here.
I remember his first game like it was yesterday.
It was actually October 5, 2002 at the Chilliwack Coliseum against the Langley Hornets.
He didn’t start off well, allowing three goals in the first period. Later in the game he made some huge saves in what ended up being a 4-3 overtime loss. He’s the only Chiefs goaltender to score a goal by shooting the puck into the opposing empty net. I had the pleasure of being part of the broadcast that night and what a thrill that was for me.