Udy returns to where it all began

Chilliwack Chiefs, BCHL

Bryton Udy (left) started his BCHL career tending net for the Vernon Vipers. Friday night he joins his new team

As the Chilliwack Chiefs hit the road for two games this weekend, one player prepares for a homecoming of sorts.

Goaltender Bryton Udy returns to Vernon Friday night, facing the team that gave him his start in the BCHL.

Udy played seven games for the Vipers last year before being dealt to the Quesnel Millionaires. His experience with and against Vernon had Chiefs head coach Harvey Smyl hinting that he might be between the pipes when Chilliwack invades the Wesbild Centre.

“Playing with Vernon, I found it to be a great barn to play in because they’ve got such knowledgeable and passionate fans,” Udy said.

The Calgary native got his first start of the young season last weekend, getting the nod in a 6-4 win over the Salmon Arm Silverbacks. Udy stopped 23 of 27 pucks in a wild affair featuring odd-man rushes aplenty and dismal defensive coverage.

Udy was happy to be back in action after a tumultuous offseason. The 18-year-old was part of the roster shuffle from Quesnel to Chilliwack and found himself battling former teammate Adam Harris for a job at training camp.

“We were really good buddies in Quesnel, but the dynamic definitely changed when we got to Chilliwack,” Udy said. “We’d hang out during the day, but once we got to the rink we were kind of enemies. It was a tough scenario knowing only one of us was probably going to have a job.”

His birth certificate (two years younger than Harris) gave Udy a big leg up in the competition. Harris didn’t get much opportunity to prove himself before Smyl cut the 19-year-old loose.

“When he was let go, I was excited that I’d made the team, but it was also really tough to have a really good buddy leave the team and not know what’s going to happen for him,” Udy said.

An outstanding outing in the final preseason game in Merritt  almost gave Udy the opening night start against Penticton.

Mitch Gillam got the eventual nod against the Vees, and Udy ended up going two weeks between starts.

Udy looked remarkably sharp despite the layoff, a testament to the work he puts in at practice.

“I try to stay focused and go through practices like I’m playing a game,” he explained. “I try to prepare as though I’m starting every game. Even if I don’t, I want to be ready whenever they want me to play.”

Just about every player will say the same thing.

Just about every player will also say there’s no substitute for live bullets.

“Especially for goalies too where every shot means something,” Udy admitted. “It’s definitely different, but you’ve still got to bring that mind-set to the rink every day.”

An optimistic guy by nature, Udy seems well suited to deal with the ebbs and flows of goaltending, never getting to high or to low.

That wasn’t always the way.

“I don’t let things get to me as much I did in bantam,” he said. “I had to change my mind-set, not sorry so much about what was going into the net as what I was keeping out of it.

Another thing that’s easy to say and difficult to do, even for veteran National Hockey League stoppers.

“My goalie coaches helped me a lot with that, and it got to where, when I got scored on I’d do the exact same thing,” Udy said. “Take a squirt of water on my face, wash it off, take a skate to the corner and come back and I’m ready to go. Blank slate.”

Udy had to do that four times against the Silverbacks in a game that was… difficult… for a goalie.

He could hardly be faulted on the goals that beat him, tick-tack-toe power play passes and top shelf wristers from 10 feet out.

Smyl admitted as much after the game, saying Udy was “hung out to dry” on several Salmon Arm scoring opportunities.

That’s the way it goes for a goalie sometimes,  when he plays well and still ends up with a 4.00 goals-against average and .852 save percentage.

“Personally, I felt a little shaky at the beginning, but by the second period I felt a lot better,” Udy noted. “I made one save at the end of the first and felt a lot more comfortable. We had the lead and I just had to let in less goals than the other guy.”

After Friday night’s game in Vernon, Udy and company will head on to Westside for a Saturday night game with the Warriors.

If Udy has a favourite building in the BCHL, Royal LePage Place might be it.

“Their fans get pretty rowdy and that gets me pumped. Even if they’re yelling at me, it’s more fun,” he said. “It’s just a lot more fun when the fans are vocal and into the game.”

Udy and the Chiefs are back home Friday, Oct. 14 to host the Vipers.

Puck drop is 7 p.m.

Just Posted

New Chilliwack school board sworn in after divisive election

Incumbent Dan Coulter acclaimed as chair with Willow Reichelt winning a vote for vice-chair

Judge to decide on mental fitness of man accused of Chilliwack River Valley shooting

Two psychiatrists disagree on fitness of Peter Kampos but Crown and defence agree he is unfit

Around the BCHL: Surrey Eagles sliding and Cassidy Bowes flows

Around the BCHL is a look at what’s happening in the league and around the junior A world.

BC Ferries passengers wait to leave Vancouver Island after Remembrance Day

Traffic aboard BC Ferries slows after Remembrance Day long weekend

Chilliwack Mayor Ken Popove on the first 100 days

One-on-one discussion with the new mayor paints a picture of what’s in store for Chilliwack

VIDEO: Amazon to split second HQ between New York, Virginia

Official decision expected later Tuesday to end competition between North American cities to win bid and its promise of 50,000 jobs

Kuhnhackl scores 2 odd goals as Isles dump Canucks 5-2

Vancouver drops second game in two nights

Fear of constitutional crisis escalates in U.S.; Canadians can relate

Some say President Donald Trump is leading the U.S. towards a crisis

B.C.-based pot producer Tilray reports revenue surge, net loss

Company remains excited about ‘robust’ cannabis industry

Canada stands pat on Saudi arms sales, even after hearing Khashoggi tape

Khashoggi’s death at Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul further strained Riyadh’s already difficult relationship with Ottawa

Feds pledge money for young scientists, but funding for in-house research slips

Canada’s spending on science is up almost 10 per cent since the Liberals took office, but spending on in-house research is actually down

Stink at B.C. school prompts complaints of headaches, nausea

Smell at Abbotsford school comes from unauthorized composting operation

Disabled boy has ‘forgiven’ bullies who walked on him in stream, mom says

A Cape Breton teen who has cerebral palsy was told to lie in a stream as other kids walked over him

Letters shed light on state of mind of B.C. mom accused of daughter’s murder

Trial of South Surrey mother Lisa Batstone begins in BC Supreme Court

Most Read