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BCHL Next Generation: Chilliwack Chiefs

In the weeks leading up to the start of the 2021-22 regular season, we will be going team-by-team to profile new players coming in for the upcoming year. This will include recaps of offseason commitments and acquisitions, as well as scouting reports from the coaches.

Next up is the Chilliwack Chiefs

The Chiefs hosted their pod last year in Chilliwack and, with a record of 14-5-1, came just a win shy of taking first place after they dropped a 4-2 decision on the final day to the eventual pod-champion Prince George Spruce Kings.

The Chiefs should have another strong roster for the 2021-22 campaign as they are bringing back several significant pieces from last year, as well as plenty of new blood ready to make a difference in the lineup.

We spoke with the team’s head coach Brian Maloney about the new recruits coming in this year.

New recruits

Kienan Draper (2002, F)

  • Hometown: Royal Oak, Mich.
  • Previous team: Omaha Lancers (USHL)
  • College commitment: Miami University (2022-23)

Draper played in the extended training camp season with the Chiefs last fall where he had four goals and one assist in 10 games, but left for the USHL in the new year after the league was shut down due to COVID-19 protocols. The 2020 Detroit Red Wings draft pick is back with the Chiefs for the upcoming year.

Maloney’s scouting report:

“Last year, he was in a situation where, with the uncertainty of the season, he wanted to make sure he was able to play some games. I couldn’t look at him with a straight face and tell him we were 100 per cent having a season, so he took an opportunity to go down south. We’re pretty excited to have him back. He really started to figure our league out with our structure and everything before he left. He’s a big body that can play a heavy game. He skates well, but what we really like about him is how he can shoot a puck, especially on the fly. We have to get creative in finding ways we can put him in position to get that shot off next year.”

Frankie Carogioiello (2002, F)

  • Hometown: Woodbridge, Ont.
  • Previous team: Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL)
  • College commitment: Miami University (2022-23)

Very similar to Draper, Carogioiello played with Chilliwack in the exhibition season, notched six points in eight games, then joined Muskegon of the USHL when the BCHL was on pause. After putting up four points in 27 games with the Lumberjacks last year, he is also back with the Chiefs for 2021-22.

Maloney’s scouting report:

“With Frankie, it’s his legs that separate him from others. He’s a quick player. He has really good edges. He can also fire a puck as well. We just have to get him comfortable. He can play up and down in your lineup. He’s a smaller guy, but he has a little bit of bite to his game. He’s not going to shy away from the physical areas. Something that we wanted to address in the offseason was bringing in some guys who have some bite, so we’re excited to have Frankie back.”

Grant Riley (2002, G)

  • Hometown: Rochester, N.Y.
  • Previous team: Omaha Lancers (USHL)
  • College commitment: Boston College (2022-23)

Riley went 1-2-0 in five appearances with Omaha of the USHL last year and also played two games with the Tri-City Storm earlier in the season. In 2019-20, he posted a .911 save percentage and finished with a 15-19-2 record with the Janesville Jets of the North American Hockey League.

Maloney’s scouting report:

“We’ve been on Grant for a few years now. He fills that hole that [former starter Mathieu] Caron has left. Grant comes in with a large frame. He’s 6-foot-4 and over 200 pounds. There are other big goalies out there, but this kid really presents big as well. We took our time grabbing a goaltender and Grant ticked all the boxes for us. Our goalie coach Mackenzie Skapski really loved the kid after the conversations he’s had with him. Grant is super excited to get up here, see the area and start working with our staff right away. He’s heading off to Boston College, so he has a bright future ahead of him. He had a rough year last year, but I think we can get him up here and get him confident. He’s going to be a big piece to our team.”

Josh Orrico (2003, D)

  • Hometown: Woodbridge, Ont.
  • Previous team: Islanders Hockey Club (NCDC)
  • College commitment: St. Lawrence University (2022-23)

Orrico played 10 games with the Islanders Hockey Club last year and registered one assist. The year prior, he suited up for St. Andrew’s College where he totaled 42 points in 67 games.

Maloney’s scouting report:

“He skates really well and he’s competitive. He’s also just a really heads-up defenceman. He can really see the seams and shoot the puck as well. He’s going to bring an offensive element to our back end, but he’s not just an offensive player looking for points. He competes hard, chases guys down and battles in the small areas. He’s also another right-handed defenceman, which is hard to come by these days.”

AJ Lacroix (2005, F)

  • West Vancouver, B.C.
  • Previous team: Delta Hockey Academy U17 Prep (CSSHL U17)

Lacroix only played a pair of games last year with Delta Academy, but the year prior, he tore up the CSSHL’s U15 circuit with West Van Academy, finishing 2019-20 with 26 goals, 34 assists and 60 points in 30 games.

Maloney’s scouting report:

“First and foremost, I love the kid. He’s a really respectful young man. He’s focused. He’s been out here and trained at our gym already and been around the guys. He’s excited to jump into this league. You see him around guys that have been here a while like Ethan Bowen and he’s already asking them questions. Some nights he might struggle to find his way in this league, but there’s other nights where he can play top-six minutes. He has a bright future ahead and we look forward to seeing him grow.”

Lucas Sorace (2004, D)

  • Hometown: Port Moody, B.C.
  • Previous team: Vancouver North East Chiefs U18 AAA (BC U18)

Although technically a member of the Chiefs last year, he most recently played regular-season games with Burnaby Winter Club’s Elite 15s the year prior where he put up 21 points in 34 games from the back end. That same year, he also played in one game as an affiliate for the Chiefs.

Maloney’s scouting report:

“He’s been affiliated with our program for a bit now and he’s really taken the steps to become a BCHL player next season. He’s still young, but he really took off as far as his growth spurt. He grew into his body a bit and became stronger. When you watch him play, he’ll be one of the smoothest skaters at his age in our league next year. He’s a really heads-up, smart, high-end defenceman and we can’t wait to be a part of his development.”

Thomas Messineo (2002, D)

  • Hometown: Westwood, Mass.
  • Previous team: St. Sebastian’s School (USHS-Prep)

Messineo most recently suited up for St. Sebastian’s in 2019-20 and finished his year with two goals and 11 assists for 13 points in 28 games.

Maloney’s scouting report:

“He’s a kid that we were talking to a lot over the last couple years. He’s a really nice, smooth skater and a puck-moving defenceman. He’s not a flashy player, but you’ll see him use his feet to get out of traffic and skate away from danger. He’s going to be exciting to have in our group. We don’t want one-dimensional players back there. We want all of our players to be able to move. He’s got a good frame to him. I’m excited to help him grow.”

Brady Milburn (2005, F)

  • Hometown: Kamloops, B.C.
  • Previous team: Thompson Blazers U18 AAA (BC U18)

Milburn had two assists in four games for the Blazers last year. In 2019-20, he managed 45 points in 29 games for Yale Hockey Academy’s U15 team.

Maloney’s scouting report:

“Brady is a younger brother to [Chiefs forward] Connor Milburn. He’s a phenomenal kid with a great family. Their other brother Reagan is over in Vernon as well, so there’s some good hockey bloodlines there. Brady is a big kid that can move and shoot the puck. Like anyone, he’s going to struggle some nights as a 16-year-old coming into the league, but he also a big frame – he’s close to 200 pounds already. If he uses his body to protect pucks, he’s going to have success in this league.”

Cole Savage (2003, G)

  • Hometown: Langley, B.C.
  • Previous team: Yale Hockey Academy U18 Prep (CSSHL U18)

Savage comes to the Chiefs after four years in the Yale Academy program, including the last two with the U18 team. In 2019-20, he posted an 11-9-0 record, a .909 save percentage and a 2.98 goals-against average in 21 contests.

Maloney’s scouting report:

“This is the first year that I’ve had to come in here and fill two spots for goaltenders. We love Cole’s work ethic. He’s a phenomenal kid who works extremely hard. He’s a little bit younger than Grant, so this gives us a little bit of youth back there that we expect to have here for a couple years at least. He’s going to come in and push Grant, which you like. It’s new for both of those kids, so they have a lot to prove.”

Chad Muller (2003, F)

  • Hometown: Kingston, Ont.
  • Previous team: Greater Kingston Frontenacs U18 AAA (ETAHL U18)

The nephew of former NHL player and current Calgary Flames assistant coach Kirk Muller, Chad comes to the BCHL after several years with the Frontenacs program. In 2019-20, he notched 27 points in 33 games played.

Maloney’s scouting report:

“Chad is a kid from out in Ontario that we were watching closely. We’re excited to add him to this group. He has some serious bite to his game, so he won’t shy away from the physical side. Like I said earlier, that’s an area that we wanted to address. He’s a kid that can shoot the puck and he brings that right-handed shot that we needed.”

Photo credits: Darren Francis (Draper, Carogioiello), Dan Hickling (Riley, Orrico, Messineo), Trent Rolfe (Sorace)