Hockey season is back, and so is Jacob Bestebroer’s weekly column, discussing the Chilliwack Chiefs and goings on around the BCHL.
Last Sunday was the 24th anniversary of the Chiefs playing their first regular season game.
I don’t know what’s more surprising, how quickly time has flown, or how well I remember that first game, a 9-2 win over the visiting Bellingham Ice Hawks.
Hockey sure has changed since that first season.
The first-year edition of the Chiefs scored 361 goals in 60 games.
They also allowed 323 goals. Yup that’s right; average goals scored per game in Chiefs games that season was 11.4.
I’ll never forget the early season performance of Chiefs forward Joey Potskin that year. He was the first Chief to get the nod as the league’s player of the week and he did it after scoring six goals and 12 assists – in three games.
If you’re too young to remember those days, those numbers must seem absurd to you. One thing we can be sure of, we won’t see those types of numbers any time soon.
We’ll spend plenty of time looking back at the first 24 years this season but for now let’s focus on this edition of the Chiefs. The team, with 16 new players in the lineup, looked solid in a pair of season opening victories on the weekend. A few things that caught my eye in the admittedly too small sample size of two games:
The goaltending is going to be very good this year.
Both Aidan Pelino and Mitchell Datz are above average at this level.
Defenseman Evan MacEachern looked very comfortable as the quarterback on the power play. He’s extremely quick at recognizing all the options available to him and usually picks the right one. His setup of Craig Puffer’s goal Saturday night was a thing of beauty.
As was Jake Hand’s first of three goals Saturday night. If you haven’t seen it, check it out on the Chiefs website.
Speaking of defense, the Chiefs are carrying seven defencemen. In games where they are all available and the coaches choose to dress six, the decision on who doesn’t play will likely not be easy.
Tough to predict who will lead this team in scoring.
Forwards Jake Hand, Jordan Kawaguchi and Craig Puffer all look capable but there are a half dozen other guys on this team that could average a point per game as well.
The official home opener is tomorrow (Saturday) when the Surrey Eagles visit Prospera Centre.
The first 1,000 fans will receive a free fridge magnet schedule and a pair of BC Lions Felions will be at the game signing autographs.
Make sure to be in your seats by 6:50 p.m. as the rink will be going dark at that time. There will be plenty of prizes to be won courtesy of Mount Waddington’s Outdoors. I can’t say much about that other than keep an eye on the rafters.
Prior to the game there will be a fundraising barbecue run in conjunction by Kal Tire and the Fraser Valley FC U-14 girls soccer team.
The Chiefs are planning to send a fan bus to their game in Vernon on Saturday, Oct. 11. The cost, which includes the bus ride to and from the game and a ticket to the game is $45. If you are interested give Andrea a call at the Chiefs office or visit her Saturday night at Customer Service.