Fans of the Chiefs of my generation weren’t old enough to see the team play during its first five years in the BC Hockey League. We remember watching the likes of Brian Maloney, Brandon Fleenor, Jeff Tambellini, Bobby Henderson, and Nolan Julseth-White.
One of the original Chiefs players was Marc Gagnon, who played two seasons in Chilliwack.
I caught up with Gagnon to talk about his time in Chilliwack and his transition to NCAA hockey.
Eric Clarke: How were you recruited by the Chiefs back in 1990?
Marc Gagnon: I was actually all set to go to Melville in the SJHL. Somehow, Mike O’Brien got my phone number and gave me a call in early August. We talked for a while and before I knew it, he reached out to Joey Potskin as well. I played with Joe the year before and stayed in touch. Joe and I talked and decided that Chilliwack sounded like a good place to play.
EC: That first season you put up a crazy 145 points. What was it like playing with Potskin?
MG: It was a crazy year. The league was very offensive and Joey was so skilled. We also had a couple of really skilled players play on our line that year in Clint Black and then Wayne Anchikoski.
EC: Have you been in contact with him after your playing days?
MG: Joe and I have tried to stay in touch over the years but it’s been a few years since we have talked
EC: The next season, you dropped to 83 points. What changed from the year before?
MG: I suffered a pretty serious quad injury maybe 20 games into the season. I definitely came back a bit too early as well. The style we played that second year was really different from year one. We were much more defensive-minded but it was definitely good for me as it helped be more prepared for NCAA hockey.
EC: How was your experience in Chilliwack?
MG: My experience in Chilliwack was unbelievable. The fans were outstanding, the community was great and the friends/billets, etc., will always be lifelong friends.
EC: How has it influenced your everyday life?
MG: Maybe the biggest thing I took away from Chilliwack is that you never know when your door is going to open. I hope that every young athlete gets to experience a season as I had in Chilliwack. It was such a tight group we had that first year.
EC: After the Chiefs, you played three seasons at St. Cloud State. How was your transition to the college game?
MG: Freshman year was tough as it is for many. SCSU was a great place to play with first-class facilities, a great fan base, and in a very competitive league. Grant Sjerven, another Chiefs alum, was also there at the same time so that made the transition a little easier.
EC: After St. Cloud State, there aren’t any other statistics available online. Did you play any more hockey after that?
MG: No, after I was done at SCSU, I returned to Alberta. I have two boys who are heavily involved in the game and that has kept me involved in the sport after I was done playing, mostly in a coaching role. I run development camps and hockey schools out of Leduc, Alberta now.
EC: Have you had any offers to coach at the junior level or higher?
MG: I coached a little junior B and some AAA hockey in Alberta. I have done some work with Hockey Alberta as well. I never really wanted to miss my own boys’ hockey, so I didn’t pursue coaching much more once my boys started playing.
EC: Have you been back to Chilliwack since you left in 1992?
MG: Twice. I came back for a ceremonial puck drop in the new rink. I was also back two summers ago when my oldest son came to Chiefs’ spring camp.
Gagnon played two seasons with the Chiefs from 1990-92 and accumulated 229 points. He holds the second-highest single-season point total in Chiefs history with 145 in 1990-91. It was one point behind teammate Joey Potskin. After Chilliwack, Gagnon played three years with St. Cloud State, where he finished with 67 points.
Today, he runs a company called Full Out Hockey in Leduc, Alberta. He has two sons who play hockey and could continue the legacy and play for the Chiefs one day, just like their dad.