If you're looking for an answer to whether the Chilliwack Chiefs will be any good this year, you're about to be disappointed.
With half of this year's Chiefs squad new to the gold and crimson, anyone who says they know exactly how well they'll perform is blowing hot air. And two regular season games-including a bad loss and a quite good tie-is far too small of a sample size to be of any use.
It's easy to imagine the Chiefs being good this year-but missing the playoffs is also completely possible. That's because, while the Chiefs should be capable defensively, the forward corps is a complete mystery.
With Tanner Cochrane on the 30-day disabled list due to a hand ailment, the Chiefs will start the season with just four BCHL vets up front. Of those, only Austin Plevy, who finished second in league scoring, potted more than 12 goals last year. This is where the mystery starts. Any of Mathieu Tibbet, Jaret Babych or Ben Butcher could score 20-plus goals this season. They all have shown skill and the ability to score in the past. Now they just need to be able to do it more consistently against tougher competition.
Ideally, two of the three will have breakout years offensively. If none of them do, the Chiefs will be in trouble.
The Chiefs will also need some of their newer acquisitions to step up to the plate.
Of the new forwards, American imports Jacob Hand, Blake Gober and Zach Diamantoni all played well in the preseason.
Chiefs head coach and general manager Harvey Smyl has a strong track record of being able to find scoring aces south of the border. This year, Smyl will need at least a couple to replace the firepower he lost during the off-season.
There are fewer questions when it comes to the team's defence.
Returnees Kiefer McNaughton, Cooper Rush and Eric Roberts will be joined by newcomer T.J. Roche to fill out a capable top-four. But whether they can be more than that is a question that can only be answered on the ice. One thing's for sure: with an average size of six-foot-three, they shouldn't be pushed around.
Cochrane and Michael Willms are smaller and younger, but both are good skaters and puck-movers. Their usefulness for Smyl, though, will depend more on their hockey sense and ability to read the play than their substantial ability.
And in goal, it's still unclear who will be the heir to Mitch Gillam. Twenty-year-old Lyndon Stanwood has experience as a starter in Trail, but his body of work in the preseason left a little to be desired. Chilliwack's Josh Halpenny, meanwhile, saw little action last year as Gillam's understudy. He'll get more work this year, and it's possible that he'll steal the starting job from Stanwood.
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