Each week during the BCHL season, local hockey guru Jacob Bestebroer drops by with his thoughts on the Chilliwack Chiefs and happenings around the junior A circuit.
Today’s is a special column, written for our special BCHL 50th anniversary section.
As we get ready to celebrate 50 years of BCHL hockey this weekend, I was asked to look back at some of highlights from the Chiefs 16 plus seasons in Chilliwack.
No disrespect to the three other BCHL teams that called Chilliwack home (the Bruins, Colts and Eagles), but the Chiefs have obviously provided the best BCHL moments.
They’ve won three league championships, and one Doyle Cup championship, making two appearances at the national championship and winning bronze in 2000.
It’s hard to top those, but some other moments do stand out to me.
What about Joey Potskin and Marc Gagnon scoring two goals and three assists each in the team’s inaugural game, a 9-2 win over Bellingham.
What about scoring titles by Joey Potskin, Shawn Horcoff, Travis Banga, Kevin Estrada and Jeff Tambellini?
How about goaltender Curtis Darling scoring a goal, or Jeremy Jackson lighting the lamp four times in his first game.
Brad Loring had a five goal game and Doug Ast set up six in another.
How about the Warren fan club, or Tambellini scoring the first four goals (all in game one) and the final four goals (all in final game) in a playoff series versus Coquitlam.
We can’t forget Jeff Yopyk’s overtime goal in game seven versus Surrey in 1999, Peter Zurba’s shenanigans or Tyson ‘TNT’ Terry.
How about Bob Gassoff defending a Scott Gomez breakaway by hacking him down like a tree, leading the Surrey owner to lose his mind in the stands.
How about the night the anthem CD failed to play and PA announcer Mauro Ranallo grabbed the mic to sing it himsellf.
How about Wyat Tunnicliffe’s two goal performance after learning, just prior to the game, that his father had passed away.
Remember Garret and Trevor Hunt turning back the clock 30 years in a wild brawl in Williams Lake, or watching Estrada grow from a 15-year-old bubble player into an 18-year-old scoring champion?
How about some props for the Brew family, who moved the team from Richmond to Chilliwack in 1980. How about the way the organization changed with the hiring of Harvey Smyl in 1993.
I wanted to end with the memory that I doubt can ever be topped, game five of the 1995 BCJHL Championship versus Powell River.
The Chiefs led the series three games to one and wanted to win on home ice. The game was played on a Sunday, a rarity in Chilliwack, but the building was jammed with an estimated 2,500 people.
No reserved seating meant 90 per cent of those people were in their seats when the teams hit the ice for warm up.
What a ride those three hours were.
Ilia Borisychev scored twice and hometown boy Mike Pfeifer put the game away with an empty net goal to seal the 3-0 win.
It’s impossible to describe the atmosphere in the Chilliwack Coliseum that night.
It was unbelievable.
It was electric.
It was simply unforgettable.