Last chance for departing Chiefs?

Tonight's could be the last BCHL game for a large contingent of Chilliwack Chiefs moving on to NCAA or CIS hockey.

When the Chilliwack Chiefs returned to town two years ago, co-owner Moray Keith joked about Harvey Smyl and his propensity for turning over a roster.

“Every offseason he has to replace 10 players, because he sends half his team off to college,” Keith astutely observed.

He was chuckling as he said it.

He was also quite correct.

Smyl’s Chiefs faced elimination last night in game three of their best-of-five series versus Surrey.

We can’t tell you if they won or lost because the game was played after press deadlines (see theprogress.com for the full game report).

But 10 came into that game thinking it might be their last in the BCHL.

Start with the 20-year-olds, who will be too old for junior A hockey next year.

Goaltender Mitch Gillam is off to Cornell,  and captain David Thompson heads to Penn State.

Defenceman Alex Perron-Fontaine will play for the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) Tigers.

Trevor Hills will join the St. Lawrence University Saints.

Two graduates have yet to find NCAA or CIS homes, but it shouldn’t be hard for Smyl to find spots for Ryan Donohoe and Chilliwack native Josh Hansen.

The departures don’t stop there.

Two of Chilliwack’s top guns, Philip Zielonka and Luke Esposito, are heading to Harvard to join the Crimson.

Austin Plevy is not a sure bet to leave for Merrimack, but there’s a 50/50 chance.

The most recent announcment had 19-year-old D-man Ben Masella joining Hills at St. Lawrence U in 2013-14 (see page 40).

If Cooper Rush is drafted by a National Hockey League team in June, there’s no guarantee he’ll be back in junior A next year either.

So… who’s left?

Ladies and gentlemen, introducing your 2013-14 Chilliwack Chiefs… Eric Roberts!

We kid, of course.

Birth certificate wise, the Chiefs could also return Spencer Graboski, Mathieu Tibbett, Tanner Burns, Shea Laurent, Kiefer McNaughton, Jaret Babych, Tanner Cochrane, Brodyn Nielsen and Josh Halpenny.

Plus Rush and Plevy if things break the right way.

Still, to say Smyl has a busy offseason ahead of him might be an understatement.

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