My fellow BCHLNetwork writer Kyle Rutherford started a series of looking at the best players in Express history for every position and decade. I’ll follow in his footsteps and bring you the best of the Chilliwack Chiefs.
First, I’ll start with the mask crusaders, the last line of defense, the keepers of the cabled cabanas, the masters of the meshed mansions, and the guardians of the guided gazebo – as the great Toronto Maple Leafs broadcaster Joe Bowen would say. It’s the best Chiefs goaltenders.
I’ll choose two goalies from each decade as tandems to cover all three decades of Chiefs hockey.
Minard came to the Chiefs for the 1994-95 season, his third year of junior hockey. He only played one season with the Chiefs but lead them to their first BC Hockey League championship.
He posted a 26-14-0 record along with four assists. Minard was named Coastal Conference rookie of the year and is the only Chiefs goalie to win the goaltender of the year award with the best goals-against average.
Minard was selected by the Edmonton Oilers in the fourth round, 83rd overall, at the 1995 National Hockey League draft.
Valley signed with the Chiefs in 1995-96 as a 20-year-old. He played one season in Chilliwack and posted a 28-7 record.
After Chilliwack, he played two years at the University of Wisconsin before spending a handful of seasons between the American Hockey League and the East Coast Hockey League.
He was the Dallas Stars goaltending coach from 2009 – 2015 before being promoted to director of player development. Valley served in that role for the Stars until 2017.
Cyr joined the Chiefs as a 15-year-old in 1999-00. He was the youngest goalie to play and win a game at the Royal Bank Cup (now the Centennial Cup) in 2000 and had his mask enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
He posted a 3.48 goals-against-average and a .881 save percentage. The Abbotsford, BC native followed up his rookie year with a 4.04 GAA and a .893 SV% in 2000-01. The following season, Cyr jumped to play with the Seattle Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League.
Cyr spent the next four seasons in the Western Hockey League before turning pro and playing in the ECHL and now-defunct United Hockey League.
After his playing career, Cyr was the goaltending coach for the Spokane Chiefs for seven seasons. He is currently the director of player development (goaltending), chairman, and alternate governor of the Winnipeg Blues of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League.
Janzen was recruited by the Chiefs in 2002-03 and formed a dynamic tandem with Curtis Darling. Even though he was the backup for two seasons, Janzen took advantage of the experience.
He played 54 games in 2004-05 and posted a 26-19-6 record with five shutouts, a 2.83 GAA, and a .916 SV%.
The following season, Janzen went to the University of Northern Michigan before deciding to return to the Chiefs in 2006-07, who had relocated in Langley by that point. He posted a 22-22-1 record with a 3.15 GAA and a .894 SV% in his final BCHL season. He holds the Chiefs record for wins by a goalie.
Janzen, who’s from Abbotsford, BC, went back to Northern Michigan for two more seasons before wrapping up his career in 2009. He currently resides in Chilliwack with his wife and two daughters.
The aforementioned Darling joined the Chiefs in 2002-03. He came to Chilliwack after two seasons in the Western Hockey League with Portland and Spokane.
Darling and Janzen formed a formidable goalie tandem for two seasons. In his first season, Darling played in 42 games and not only did he have seven assists, but he was the first goalie in BCHL history to score a goal. He also helped lead the Chiefs back to the BCHL finals before losing to the Vernon Vipers in six games.
The next season, he returned to the Chiefs and played in 48 games with a 25-18 record, a 3.86 GAA, and a .908 SV%. After Chilliwack, Darling played three years of Canadian Intercollegiate Sports hockey at the University of Waterloo.
After university, he had a few stints in the ECHL with his best season coming in 2009-10 with the Ontario Reign. He played in 52 games with a 21-25-7 record, a 2.89 GAA, and a .908 SV%. He currently resides in Waterloo, Ontario, and is a real estate agent.
The Chiefs recruited Gillam from Berkshire School in Sheffield, Massachusetts back in 2011-12. This cool, calm goalie made his mark in the BCHL rather quickly.
In his first season, he posted a 26-15 record with a 3.07 GAA and a .912 SV% en route to being named to the BCHL all-rookie team along with the Interior Conference second all-star team.
He upped his game the following season, playing in 46 games with a 25-17 record, a 2.87 GAA, and a .928 SV%. Gillam was also credited with a goal against Surrey that season, becoming the second goalie in BCHL history to do so. He was also named Coastal Conference MVP and a first-team all-star.
Gillam went on to play four years at Cornell University and scored a goal against Niagara University in his NCAA debut in 2013. He currently plays in the ECHL with the Witchita Thunder after signing a new deal this past fall.
Pelino came to the Chiefs in 2014-15 from Northwood School in Lake Placid, New York. In his first season, he posted an 18-12 record, a 3.18 GAA, and a .894 SV%. Pelino also got into two Fred Page Cup playoff games in 2015.
The following season, Pelino was the absolute number one goalie, sharing the crease with Matteo Esposito. The Oakville, Ontario product posted a 22-11 record, a 2.54 GAA, and a .909 SV%. He led the Chiefs to the Fred Page Cup Final, only to lose to West Kelowna.
After Chilliwack, Pelino went to Bentley University where he played four seasons. He currently is playing with Roki in Mestis, which is the Finnish second division. As of this writing, he’s played in six games with a 2-4-0 record, a 3.92 GAA, and a .871 SV%.
There are a lot of good goalies to come to the Chiefs who were deadline deals or midseason acquisitions. There is a case for Marc Narduzzi, who helped the Chiefs win the 2002 Fred Page Cup. Nathen Marsters was acquired to help Ryan Cyr and the Chiefs win the 2000 Fred Page Cup. There’s also Wyatt Galley, who played two seasons with the Langley Chiefs, and Daniel Chenard who helped the Chiefs win their first-ever National Junior A Championship in 2018.
If the Chiefs ever start a ring of honor at the Chilliwack Coliseum, any of these goalies would warrant consideration to be a part of that honour.