The Chilliwack Progress / Black Press Media

Chiefs alumni look: Corey deMoissac

 

The Chilliwack Chiefs were a very tough and rugged team in the early 1990s. Most of it came from having farm boys from Alberta on the squad. St. Paul, a town two hours northeast of Edmonton, was a pipeline of talented players for the Chiefs. The likes of Harvey Smyl, Dan Mahe, Jeff Yopyk, and Chris Leroux all came to the Fraser Valley from St. Paul.

However, one of the most prolific players from the town of 6,000 is Corey deMoissac. I caught up with deMoissac, who’s nickname with the Chiefs was “Bear”, to discuss his time in Chilliwack and what he has been up to after finishing playing.

Eric Clarke: You played with the Fort Saskatchewan Traders in the Alberta Junior Hockey League in 1993-94. How did you find out you were traded to the Chiefs during that 1994 offseason?

Corey deMoissac: I actually got a ride to Red Deer with a trucker hauling grain (because my) dad was busy on the farm. After about 3-4 weeks of camp, my dad showed up and said, “You’re off to Chilliwack.”

EC: Did you feel right at home when you arrived in Chilliwack?

CD: Well, there were a few guys I knew really well. Jeff Trembecky, I played with at Fort Saskatchewan. Chris Leroux, I grew up within St. Paul and played a bit in Williams Lake with.

Aaron Boucher was my age and we played all minor hockey together. Curtis Saylor was a Two Hills boy I played with and knew. Plus I had played a year and a half against Chad Nelson in Olds. Harvey (Smyl) traded for him the same fall (in 1994). So I felt right at home with the team and for the city itself, it was very welcoming.

EC: How was your experience in Chilliwack? How did it affect your everyday life?
 
CD: Chilliwack was an amazing experience. The city, the people, I can’t say enough good things about Chilliwack. From the billets to the fans to the sponsors and teammates, it will always be a big part of who I am.

EC: How was your transition from the AJHL to the BCHL?

CD: (The) transition was different. We had played Olds in the finals year before and the AJ was far more defensive. Maybe it felt that way cause we were very offensive in Chilliwack. We had quite a few players that first year (1994-95) who were extremely skilled.

EC: You were part of the 1995 championship team. What was that like?

CD: I could write a book about that team. That team was built on so many different characters, all with the same goal. Being a 17-year-old kid, you were scared. You never wanted to let any of those guys down. Everyone was held accountable by our older leaders and the atmosphere. I could go on forever about that year.

EC: Tell me about the Doyle Cup that year against that powerhouse Calgary Canucks team.

CD: (I’m) not sure they were a powerhouse. That loss still hurts. 

EC: Tell me about the loss. What happened to shift the momentum?

CD: (We were) up 3-1 and I believe we lost the next three in OT? Possibly double OT. I think special teams maybe came into play in the latter part of that series.

EC: If the series had started on the road for the Chiefs, do you think it would have been a different outcome?

CD: Let’s see… the series I guess could have been different if it started in Alberta. Chilliwack Coliseum was an incredibly tough place to play for opponents. The atmosphere in the barn was electric. The fans were by far the best in the league and the rink itself was small and intimidating.

EC: Was there a little Alberta bias maybe? I’ve heard stories of Calgary fans not exactly being very pleasant during that series.

CD: Not sure the Max Bell (Centre) has seen so many people. The series itself was crazy. Maybe because of our reputation.

Funny story, I believe it was game six. We were going down to the lobby and got into the elevator with Felix Potvin and another (Toronto Maple) Leafs player. They were playing the Flames that night. All of us were in suits. Felix says, “You guys must be in quite a series.” We laughed and asked what he meant.

His response? He pulled out the Calgary sports section where we were the front two pages and the Leafs were third or fourth. He said Leafs are never on the back page when they travel west. We all laughed and he wished us good luck.

EC: In 1995-96, the Chiefs had another dominant year. Talk about that season and what happened against Langley in the semifinals

CD: Yeah, we had a different makeup that year… very skilled. The likes of Shawn Horcoff, Tyler Quiring, Diano Zol, Jeremy Lapeyre, Bryan Yackel, Brad Hodgins, Dion Hagen, just to name a few. I think we lost maybe seven or eight games that year? (Editor’s note: It was 12)

And then we get upset in game seven. We were really banged up and missing a few of those guys in that series. It’s no excuse, but we really missed a few of those guys.

EC: In the 1997 playoffs against Surrey, talk about the lead up to your head butt on Eagles star Scott Gomez.

CD: (laughs) You remember that? Surrey was very good that year. We played them a lot back then. Shane Kuss,  Gomez, and Rodney Bowers was easily the best line I played against. Not sure Olympic ice at the South Surrey Arena helped us that year, we were big and nasty. I think we broke records as a team for PIMs that year.

Well, we didn’t really like them and they really didn’t like us. I got to face that line a lot, we played them like eight or nine times. He (Gomez) actually had a breakaway and I dove to try and trip him. He, of course, scored a highlight-reel goal while falling and we both went crashing into the boards.
 
As we got up, he was screaming in my face. He used to wear this thick chain – I used to chirp him about how I was gonna tear that chain off and sell it – so out of frustration and him yelling, I must have grabbed him by his chain and accidentally head-butted him. The Gomez head butt, I think I got five or six games for that one. He was good.
 
EC: What happened after? I’m sure the Eagles didn’t take that too lightly.
 
CD: Not much, like I said, we were big and nasty. They usually didn’t want to mix it up with us. Paul Fioroni, Mitch Shawara, Wes Mueller, Kyle Murphy, Aaron Bowal, Bob Gassoff, Richard Dean, Rory Graham, Ryan Hawse… all pretty tough customers.
 
EC: You were named captain in 1997-98, your final season in Chilliwack. How were you told? Was there any locker room ceremony or anything?
 
CD: I was an assistant for the two years before. I believe Quiring started a tradition of a captain’s key chain that was passed down. Also, we had a captain’s stall that each captain sat at, it started with Peter Zurba (in 1994-95). It was an honour.
 
EC: What did you do after your playing days?
 
CD: After Chilliwack, I played three years of college. I actually married a girl from Chilliwack and got an education degree from the University of Alberta. I’ve been teaching high school for 20 years and an assistant principal for eight years. I coach both my girls’ hockey and ball teams. I was at the RBC Cup in 2018 when the Chiefs won, it was pretty cool.
 
“Bear” played four seasons with the Chiefs from 1994-98. He finished with 17 goals and 67 assists for 84 points in 212 games. He also had 521 penalty minutes, which is fourth all-time behind Bobby Henderson, Tyson Terry, and fellow St. Paul native Dan Mahe. After Chilliwack, he played three seasons at Red Deer College in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference. He finished with 12 goals and 36 assists and 150 penalty minutes in 69 ACAC games.
 
Currently, he is an assistant coach with the St. Paul Canadians of the North Eastern Alberta Junior B Hockey League alongside former Chiefs defenseman Shawn Germain.
 
DeMoissac and Germain coached against their former mentor Harvey Smyl three seasons ago when the legendary Chiefs boss was coaching in the NEAJBHL with the Froglake T-Birds.