Column: New faces replace the old as Chiefs start season

Jacob Bestebroer talks roster turnover as he launches into his first weekly column discussing the Chilliwack Chiefs and the BCHL.

It’s hard to believe but the start of another regular season of Chilliwack Chiefs hockey is just around the corner.

We’ll be seeing a lot of new players in Chiefs uniforms. Of the 21 players that were on the Chiefs roster as last season ended, only eight are return. High turnover rates are the norm in junior A hockey but replacing 13 players is higher than usual.

Gone are the likes of Luke Esposito, Mitch Gillam and Philip Zielonka, all elite players at this level.

If you’ve been out to watch training camp or some of the exhibition action you’ve seen some of the new players that have been brought in to replace them.

New forwards include Jake Hand, Blake Gober, Jordan Kawaguchi and Zach Diamontoni — all of whom are very skilled. How quickly they can adapt to playing at this level is the question, but I don’t think it will take them long. The same can be said for incoming rookie defensemen Carter Cochrane and Michael Willms.

The Chiefs will once again start the season with two local players on the team. Goaltender Josh Halpenny is back for his second season while graduated forward Josh Hansen is replaced by 17-year-old rookie forward Kyle Westeringh.

For the second consecutive year the regular season will kick off with the Bauer BCHL Showcase at Prospera Centre beginning Friday Sept. 6.

All 16 BCHL teams will be here playing a total of 16 games over three days. The Chiefs will face Powell River and Vernon.

Bauer is the presenting sponsor and will be running The Bauer Experience on the main ice sheet Saturday morning from 9 to 11 a.m. This is a great event which allows people to try all the latest Bauer skates, gloves, sticks and helmets.

There will be a ton of prize giveaways including Bauer gear and Canucks tickets. I can’t do the event justice here but if you Google ‘The Bauer Experience’ you’ll find a lot more information and some videos which will give you a good idea of what to expect. It looks like a must for any kid who plays hockey.

A few months ago the Chiefs launched their official App for all smart phones. Most of the kinks have been worked out and we are adding some really cool features in the near future.

If you’ve already downloaded it, I’d love to hear your feedback and if you haven’t please do as I think you’ll like it.  Keep an eye of the Chiefs website next week for information on the various flex packs that will be available.

Season tickets don’t work for everyone.

These packs will offer fans a few nice alternatives including a way to donate money to a local amateur sports organization of their choice.