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Next Generation: Chilliwack Chiefs

Presented by Chevrolet.

In the weeks leading up to the start of the 2023-24 season, we will go team-by-team to profile new players entering the league for the upcoming season, including scouting reports from the coaches.

This year, we will go in reverse order of how the teams finished last season, starting with the two clubs that missed the playoffs and ending with the two league finalists. Next up is the Chilliwack Chiefs.


The 2022-23 Chilliwack Chiefs were a middle-of-the-pack team in the Coastal Conference during the regular season, finishing fifth with a 28-22-1-3 record, but they caught fire at the exact right time.

The Chiefs beat the Coquitlam Express in the first round, then topped the number-one seed in the conference, the Nanaimo Clippers, in six games of round two, eventually losing in the Coastal Conference Final to the Alberni Valley Bulldogs in four games.

Chilliwack expects a strong group of returning players this year, but head coach and general manager Brian Maloney has been working hard on the recruiting trail this offseason. He breaks down each addition to the team’s roster.

New recruits

Vladimir Nikitin (2005, G)

  • Home country: Kazakhstan
  • Previous team: Barys Astana U20 (Kazakhstan U20)
  • NHL Draft: Ottawa Senators (2023 – Round 7)

Nikitin went 18-6-0 in the top junior league in Kazakhstan last year with a .921 save percentage and a 2.07 goals-against average. He was even better in the playoffs, going 9-0-0 with a .925 save rate and a 1.56 GAA, leading them to a championship. In addition, Nikitin was named Top Player and Best Goaltender at the Division 1 Under-18 World Championship last year, winning a gold medal for his country.

Maloney’s scouting report:

“Vladimir’s name came across my desk months ago, long before the draft. When we looked into him, we saw a big, athletic goaltender that never gives up on a puck. His name and reputation started to grow as the summer months went along. We’re getting a goalie with a good pedigree. He’s raw and still has lots to learn, but he wants to come over, learn the language and get a scholarship to a good school. We’re pretty excited about having a pretty deep goaltending trio.”

Savin Virk (2007, F)

  • Hometown: Surrey, B.C.
  • Previous team: Yale Hockey Academy Prep (CSSHL U18)
  • College commitment: Michigan State University

As a 15-year-old, Virk’s 47 points and 26 goals in 29 games last year were both tops on his U18 team at Yale Hockey Academy last year. He also played in two regular-season games and two playoffs games as an affiliate with Chilliwack in 2022-23.

Maloney’s scouting report:

“He’s a pretty high-end forward. He has the ability to score. I think he’s going to be a special player in this league. Savin has continued to get stronger and put muscle on his frame. As he continues to do that, he’s only going to get better as the season goes. Him and his family are excited about his recent college commitment. I know Michigan State is excited about it and we’re excited about have a bona fide goal scorer on our roster.”

Elliot Dutil (2003, F)

  • Hometown: Montreal, Que.
  • Previous team: Brooks Bandits (AJHL)
  • College commitment: Lindenwood University

Dutil was over a point-per-game player last year with Brooks of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. He totaled 59 points in 57 regular-season games after scoring 29 goals and adding 30 assists. The Bandits wound up winning their league championship as well as a national title.

Maloney’s scouting report:

“Elliot brings that experience which has been lacking a bit the last few years here in Chilliwack. He’s also bringing a winning pedigree. He’s a goal scorer. He scores the right away and that’s by driving to the hard areas. A lot of his goals are scored around the net. He’s got a great shot too. We’re excited to bring him on to be one of our few 20-year-olds this year.”

Austin Peters (2004, F)

  • Hometown: Winnipeg, Man.
  • Previous team: Portage Terriers (MJHL)

Peters finished top-10 in scoring in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League last year with 62 points in 53 games after notching 20 goals and 42 assists. He also came up big in the postseason, piling up nine points in 12 playoff games and adding a goal and eight assists in six games at the national championship tournament.

Maloney’s scouting report:

“We’re arguably getting one of the best players from the Manitoba league. Austin is a player coming with experience and competitiveness. He also has a motor on him. He skates extremely well and competes for everything. He wins a lot of races and battles for pucks. We’re getting a guy that’s proven himself in a junior league already and who has played on a big stage.”

Rylan Brady (2004, F)

  • Hometown: Jackson, Mich.
  • Previous team: Oklahoma Warriors (NAHL)
  • College commitment: Lake Superior State University

Brady produced offence for Oklahoma of the North American Hockey League last year, piling up 23 goals and 21 assists for 44 points in 60 games. He also had four points in nine playoff games as his Warriors team won the league championship.

Maloney’s scouting report:

“Rylan is a power forward who can shoot the puck. We like his experience and his competitiveness. He works for every inch on the ice. He’s a big body who knows how to use his size to create offence. He’s also got a really nice release. We’re always one of the younger teams in the league, so being able to bring a 19-year-old in with experience on a winning team was important.”

Hudson Wiles (2007, D)

  • Hometown: Port Elgin, Ont.
  • Previous team: Barrie Colts AAA (ETAHL U16)

Wiles scored eight goals and added 16 assists for 24 points in 36 games last year.

Maloney’s scouting report:

“Hudson is a pretty high-end young defenceman. That position is a lot harder to jump into a higher level than a forward. He isn’t the biggest kid, but he takes care of his body. Meeting him face to face, you can tell he spends a lot of time in the gym. He understands what he needs to do to compete at this level. He’s really dynamic with the puck and has a lot of elusiveness and deception to his game. He’s got quick feet as well. He’s got a great skillset. He just needs to gain experience. We’re excited to see how he can grow over the next few years.”

Stone Rolston (2005, F)

  • Hometown: Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
  • Previous team: Little Caesers (18U AAA)

The son of former NHLer Brian Rolston and the younger brother of Chicago Blackhawks draft pick Ryder Rolston, Stone joins the Chiefs after playing his youth hockey with the Little Caesers program in Detroit. Last year with their 18U team, he had 25 goals and 30 assists for 55 points in 61 games. He also suited up for six games with the U.S. National Team Development Program.

Maloney’s scouting report:

“Stone is going to bring a lot of energy and depth to our forward group. He has a pretty large frame. He’s 6-foot-3 and closing in on 200 pounds. With my ties to the Michigan area, I’ve been watching Stone really closely. We’re excited to bring him in. He’s raw, but if we can teach him to use his frame and his competitiveness to his advantage, he could be a really effective power forward in this league. By the time he gets his feet wet in this league, he’s going to be a special player.”

Brendan Ruskowski (2005, F)

  • Hometown: Langley, B.C.
  • Previous team: Fraser Valley Thunderbirds AAA (BCEHL U18)

Ruskowski was the Thunderbirds leading scorer with 62 points in 36 games in 2022-23, good enough to tie for fourth in the BCEHL points race, while his 41 assists were tied for most in the league. He already has plenty of BCHL experience, having put up two goals and two assists in seven regular-season games with the Chiefs last year as an affiliate and suiting up for another three playoff contests.

Maloney’s scouting report:

“Brendan is just a straight meat-and-potatoes, workmanlike, highly competitive, low-maintenance kid. When you’re carrying yourself the right way, like Brendan does, it usually translates onto the ice and that’s why he was able to put up numbers for us already as a young player last year. I think he can play all over our forward group. He’s proven himself in this league already. Like all of our depth guys, Brendan is going to be given the chance to climb up our lineup.”

Tyler Pretty (2005, F)

  • Hometown: Abbotsford, B.C.
  • Previous team: Fraser Valley Thunderbirds AAA (BCEHL U18)

A linemate of Ruskowski’s last year, Pretty finished the 2022-23 season second on his team and sixth in the league with 56 points in 36 games. His 28 goals led the T-Birds and was good enough for fourth in the BCEHL.

Maloney’s scouting report:

“First and foremost, Tyler is a phenomenal kid from a great family. We’ve been watching him and his twin brother for years. He’s a really good athlete and a low-maintenance kid. He has a team-first mentality. We expect him to come in and add depth to our group. He’s proven that he can produce offensively, but he also plays the game in the hard areas. He should continue to grow and become a really effective BCHL player.”

Caleb Elfering (2004, F)

  • Hometown: Richland, Wash.
  • Previous team: Northstar Christian Academy (18U AAA)

In his second year with Northstar’s 18U club, Elfering led the team in scoring with 72 points in 52 games. His 33 goals were also most on the team, while his 39 assists were second. Elfering  played in five BCHL games last year as an affiliate with the Wenatchee Wild, including two in the postseason. He scored his first goal in the league on Dec. 30 against the Prince George Spruce Kings.

Maloney’s scouting report:

“Northstar Academy develops really outstanding young men. Caleb is excited to come here. He’s a smaller guy, but he’s got a motor on him. He can drive us offensively, but where he gets a lot of his offence is from that motor and being able to track guys down and strip pucks. He can make a lot of plays in tight areas.”

Vit Beran (2004, D)

  • Home country: Czechia
  • Previous team: HC Litvinov U20 (Czechia U20)

Beran spent the past five years in the HC Litvinov system. He played for the U20 team in 2022-23 and had 10 points in 51 games. He also represented Czechia on the international stage multiple times last year.

Maloney’s scouting report:

“We needed to fill the hole after losing Abram Wiebe. We don’t expect Vit to be that dominant in this league, but we needed that kind of mobile, lefthanded defenceman. He’ll bring a lot of experience, playing at a junior and national level already. We expect him to be a big part of our organization right away.”

Zach Rizzo (2004, D)

  • Hometown: Atlanta, Ga.
  • Previous team: Cushing Academy (USHS-Prep)

In his third year at Cushing Academy, Rizzo had three goals and 19 assists in 31 games. His 22 points put him one back of the team lead in defenceman scoring.

Maloney’s scouting report:

“Zach is a kid that we recruited early. He’s a two-way, mobile defenceman with a right shot that comes with experience. Being a 19-year-old, he overcooked in the academy world and didn’t rush into junior hockey. He’s got a lot of schools on him already. He should come in, a lot like Brian Morse did last year as a 19-year-old, and be physically ready.”

Harrison Boldt (2006, F)

  • Hometown: Edmonton, Alta.
  • Previous team: OHA Edmonton Prep (CSSHL U18)

Boldt scored 12 goals and added 14 assists for 26 points in 30 games last year.

Maloney’s scouting report:

“Harrison is going to bring depth to our forward group. He’s a young guy who is 6-foot-3 and closing in on 200 pounds already. He’s going to be a big power forward for us. He’s also a low-maintenance kid. He just wants to get better. He’s pretty excited about putting on a Chiefs uniform. His family also lives in Chilliwack, so anytime you can bring in someone living in our community, combined with the fact that he’s a heck of a player, it was a no-brainer for us.”

Kenyon McIsaac (2006, D)

  • Hometown: Prince George, B.C.
  • Previous team: Campbell River Storm (VIJHL)

McIsaac played the majority of the 2022-23 campaign for the Port Alberni Bombers Junior B team and had 14 points in 26 regular-season games. He joined Campbell River for their playoff run and suited up for 11 contests. His father Brent is a former Chiefs player who won a Fred Page Cup with the team in 2002.

Maloney’s scouting report:

“We’ve been watching him closely over the last few years. He’s not the biggest kid, but he has all the fight in the world. He’s a little pit bull. I think he’s going to raise our standards, especially in practice, for how we want to drive our competitiveness as a hockey team. He’ll add depth to our defence corps. It’s a pretty cool story for us to be able to bring a McIsaac back into our uniform.”

Cole Savage (2003, G)

  • Hometown: Langley, B.C.
  • Previous team: Drayton Valley Thunder (AJHL)

Savage should be familiar to Chiefs fans already. He played the entire 2021-22 season with the team, then started with them last year before being dealt to Drayton Valley of the Alberta Junior Hockey League where he played in 20 games.

Maloney’s scouting report:

“Cole is probably one of the best people that we’ve ever had come through this program. He’s loved by his teammates and this community. It’s important for us, when we’re adding players into our group and our culture, that they align. He’s going to be driving that culture. He understands where he is on our depth chart, but he’ll drive us, whether it’s leading the charge in the weight room or through practice habits, and we’ll see where it goes. He’s going to keep [fellow goalies] Austin [McNicholas] and Vladdy [Nikitin] on their toes and competitive by pushing them in practice.”

Photo credit: CSSHL (Virk), Dan Hickling (Rolston, Elfering, Rizzo), Darren Francis (Ruskowski, Savage)