Column: New players face steep learning curve with Chiefs

Adapting to junior A hockey will take some time, says Jacob Bestebroer in his weekly column.

  • Sep. 11, 2013 11:00 a.m.

With 13 new faces in the Chilliwack Chiefs lineup, 12 of whom were playing their first game at the junior A level, some early season struggles are to be expected.

That’s exactly what we saw in Saturday’s 6-1 loss to Powell River which was one of those games you know each player wants to put behind them in a hurry. Fortunately, they didn’t have long to dwell on that game as they played again the next night. They had the chance to wipe Saturday’s effort from everyone’s memory with a better effort against an even tougher opponent, the Vernon Vipers.

And that’s just what they did.

They earned a 1-1 tie, and consider the first character test of the season passed with flying colors.

Two players who did not play the night before were key contributors. Goaltender Lyndon Stanwood, who struggled through the pre-season, earned the game’s first star by stopping 42 shots. Rookie forward Kurt Black, a healthy scratch the previous night, scored the tying goal with just under seven minutes left in the third period.

On Tuesday, the Chiefs took a step to reduce their level of inexperience when they reacquired defenseman Shay Laurent from the Coquitlam Express.

Shay knows what it takes to be a Chief and his presence on the team will make the transition to this level much easier for all the new players. Credit Express head coach Barry Wolff for helping make this happen for Shay.

It will be a few weeks before we see the Chiefs on home ice again.

They are in Prince George for a pair of games against the Spruce Kings this weekend before getting two weeks off. This trip is well timed as it will give the team some much needed time to get to know each other better. The Spruce Kings have lost two straight to start the season so you know they’ll be ornery this weekend.

The Chiefs return to home ice Sept. 28, debuting new jerseys against Prince George.

There will be lots happening that night and you’ll hear more about it as we get closer to the game. But I can tell you that a special guest will be BC Lions general manager Wally Buono, who will sign autographs during the first intermission.

A huge thank you to Chiefs volunteers who once again stepped up in a big way last weekend.

There were 16 teams in town to play 16 games in just over 50 hours at the Bauer BCHL Showcase, and without the efforts of the volunteers it would not have worked out as well as it did. I can tell you that the BCHL executive was very impressed as well.