The Chilliwack Chiefs’ season came to a quiet end last weekend as they bowed out of the first round of the BCHL playoffs with a game seven loss to the Surrey Eagles.
On the ice, it was a disappointing end to a frustrating campaign for Chiefs hockey boss Brian Maloney.
But off the ice, the junior A club accomplished something that hasn’t been done before in franchise history.
Chilliwack ended the season with 17 players committed to NCAA Div 1 programs, setting a new Chiefs record.
“We will always believe that player development trumps winning and we take an immense amount of pride in the personal growth of our players,” Maloney said in a statement posted on the Chiefs website. “We bring young players here to secure NCAA scholarships, learn what is expected to play the game at an elite level and how to be valued members of our community, and most importantly to learn what it is to be a professional and a role-model on and off the ice.”
Several skaters came into the season with scholarships already in hand, and several more achieved that goal as the year went on.
The full list of scholarships includes; Kyle Penney (Cornell), Ethan Bowen (North Dakota), Nathan Kelly (Union College), Joey Larson (Northern Michigan), Jack Agnew (Boston College), Arlo Merritt (Ohio State), Trevor Adams (Union College), Cooper Moore (North Dakota), Nikita Nesterenko (Boston College), Brody Gagno (Quinnipiac), Peter Reynolds (Boston College), Tommy Lyons (Harvard), Hudson Thornton (Minnesota-Duluth), Mathieu Caron (Brown), Nicholas Cherkowski (Merrimack), Xavier Henry (Maine) and Brett Rylance (Northern Michigan).
“We have witnessed the growth of exciting young prospects like 16-year-old players Hudson Thornton and Peter Reynolds. We have seen the continued development of National Hockey League draft selections Nikita Nesterenko (Minnesota) and Cooper Moore (Detroit) as well as potential future NHL draft picks like Chilliwack native Ethan Bowen,” Maloney noted. “Watching our team grow and become a family this season has been as rewarding an experience as I have had in the game.
“It is my firm belief that if we continue on the track of developing elite players and elite people, the fans and community of Chilliwack will be rewarded with the ultimate goal: deep playoff runs, championships, and national championships.
“We appreciate your patience and commitment to our vision.”