The Chilliwack Chiefs beat the Penticton Vees 7-1 at Prospera Centre Saturday night.

Lengthy process lands Bondra in Chilliwack

Chilliwack Chiefs, BCHL

A longer-than-expected transfer process kept Harvey Smyl tight-lipped over the last three weeks, but Tuesday afternoon he was finally able to talk about his newest Chilliwack Chief.

Hockey Canada at last  cleared David Bondra to join the BCHL squad, and he made his debut Saturday night.

The 18-year-old picked up three assists in a 7-1 rout of the visiting Penticton Vees, providing a glimpse of what Smyl hopes he’ll bring to the lineup.

“In that game, although he was on the scoresheet, I didn’t think he played as well as he’s capable of,” Smyl said. “He’s got a great hockey mind. He handles and distributes the puck pretty well and he can shoot it fairly well. I thought he was better defensively than I’ve seen of late.”

The trick with bringing in the sons of ex-National Hockey League players is that you might get unfair comparisons.

David’s dad, Peter, scored 503 goals in the NHL for Washington, Atlanta and Chicago.

He only retired after 2006-07, so memories are relatively fresh of him flying down the wing and roofing a top-shelf wrist shot over another hapless goaltender.

Local fans may look at David’s last name and assume that he’s a chip off the ol’ block.

“The bottom line for our coaching staff is that we certainly don’t think that way,” Smyl said. “They’re individual players and people and this is a whole new world for him. Junior hockey in Canada and junior hockey in Chilliwack is quite a bit different than anything he might be used to.”

Bondra’s official arrival in Chilliwack was held up by his birth certificate, which says he was born in Slovakia.

Quite true, says Smyl.

“Junior A and down are not allowed any non-North American imports, and that’s what he would be classified as,” Smyl explained. “But in the appeals process, there’s the opportunity to file an argument on why he shouldn’t be classified that way.”

Smyl did his homework.

“David was born there, but he moved to the United States when he was about two months old, and he never goes back there except for a two week holiday in the summer,” Smyl said. “He did all his schooling in North America and played all his minor hockey in the United States. It was a pretty straight forward case to make.”

Which begs the question, why did it take several weeks for Bondra to be cleared?

“They (Hockey Canada) get to it when they get to it,” Smyl said. “The reason it probably took a little longer than it should have is that they originally told us we wouldn’t have to appeal it. So we went through the whole B.C. Hockey process, and two weeks later Hockey Canada said that yes, we did in fact have to appeal.”

Working with the Bondra family, Smyl had all the documents in order and never had any doubt that Bondra’s arrival in the BCHL would be green-lighted.

“Throughout this whole process I’ve been thoroughly impressed by how mature and responsible David has been,” Smyl said. “He’s just a solid, solid individual.”

Bondra spent last season with the USHL’s Chicago Steel, putting up five goals and nine points in 58 games.

“They were a poor team in a very good league, and some of that came into play with his point totals,” Smyl said. “But, having said that, he’s not a huge numbers guy at this point. Because he has such a good hockey mind and he has some skill, if he were to play in this league for a couple years he could make a bigger offensive contribution.”

Bondra was planning on going back to Chicago again this season until the situation changed.

“He tried out in Chicago again and they had a whole new coaching staff that wanted their own people and wanted to go in a new direction,” Smyl explained. “He went to another team, but he was late coming in and in the USHL they have their teams picked in June. So David was a victim of the situation and a friend of mine, a college coach, gave me the heads up.”

Bondra gets his next chance to impress the bench boss and local fans Saturday night as Chilliwack welcomes the Salmon Arm Silverbacks to Prospera Centre.

The game will be a good test for the Chiefs, who won’t have the energy of opening night to feed off of.

Just about everything went right for Chilliwack in the win over Penticton. If there was anything to knit-pick about, it was in the amount of penalties they took.

“But even with that, there was a ton of energy in that dressing room and on the bench, and they were trying to take that energy onto the ice,” Smyl said. “Sometimes that leads to unnecessary penalties. I agree that penalties were an issue, but I’d rather see them energized and taking some of those penalties than see me having to kick them in the butt to get them going.”

Smyl doesn’t expect his team to have the same energy level against the Silverbacks. But he doesn’t expect a moribund squad either.

“We need to have work ethic and play energized, but I think we’ll have to have more controlled energy,” he said. “Against Penticton, it was just one of those nights where the coaches didn’t have to do much motivating.”

Salmon Arm is winless to start the season, with back-to-back losses to the Vernon Vipers.

The Silverbacks took a 5-1 loss in Vernon on Friday, then dropped a 5-4 overtime decision back home on Saturday.

Chilliwack will be facing an ornery and hungry squad.

“I don’t know a whole bunch about them yet, but I know they’re very talented and they’re another team that will have a very good power play,” Smyl said. “The last couple years they’ve also been very disciplined. They don’t give you much in terms of power play opportunities.”

Puck drop is 7 p.m.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Epic first year for GW Graham curling crew

A team of upstarts has won an Eastern Valley banner and now goes hunting for a B.C. championship.

Take a run out to the corner store when Kim’s Convenience comes to Chilliwack

The play that inspired the hit television show is coming to the Chilliwack Cultural Centre

Chilliwack’s Deanna Tuchscherer named Canada West Rookie of the Year

Tuchscherer is also in the running for the U-Sports award which will be announced next week.

Chilliwack SPCA receives grant to help control feral cat populations

The local SPCA branch was one of 10 animal welfare groups who received grants this week

BC Seniors Advocate calls for better oversight in care home industry

‘There is no financial incentive right now to be a good operator’ - Isobel Mackenzie

RCMP ask court about disposal of evidence in Robert Pickton case

Pickton was sentenced to life with no chance of parole for 25 years for the murders of six women

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs optimistic ahead of talks with feds, province

Discussions with provincial and federal governments expected to start later today

‘The project is proceeding’: Horgan resolute in support of northern B.C. pipeline

B.C. premier speaks as talks scheduled with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs

BREAKING: Kelowna RCMP to further investigate 12 sexual assault cases, create sexual assault unit

Recommendations come five months after it was revealed 40% of sexual assaults were deemed ‘unfounded’

Explicit Greta sticker linked to Alberta company draws outrage

The sticker includes the logo of Red Deer-based X-Site Energy Services

Share Now, formerly Car2Go, leaves Canada with valuable data in changing market: expert

Vancouver was its largest market in North America, with more than 300,000 customers

Police seize nine guns, machetes, drugs from tent in Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park

Police believe the tent is a communal or shared space and no single occupant has been identified

Off-duty RCMP officer helps catch Cache Creek car thief

‘This is just one example of how we are always ready to respond to emergencies’

What’s happening: Coronavirus forges on, as world hunts solutions

Japan closes all elementary, middle and high schools until spring holidays in late March

Most Read