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 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.