Fall camp means different things to different players and the Spokane Chiefs are no different. But for all of the hockey hopefuls there is one constant - pressue to perform.
The Chiefs hit the ice Thursday morning and we were there. We’ll know more when the Red-White scrimmage comes around on Sunday, but in addition to visiting with some of the youngsters who hope to crack a veteran lineup, we talked to some veterans as well as the top two picks from the summer Bantam Draft, who are only here for the experience.
Defenseman Reid Gow, impressed with his introduction to Spokane, said, “With all these players it’s just an unreal experience. I don’t want (the Chiefs) to be disappointed in their pick, show them they made the right decision. I just have to play my game, what they picked me for, play like they want me to. It’s an unbelievable place. I’ve been here for two days before camp with my family just to check it out. It’s so nice.”
Forward Conner Chartier said, “Next year will be a lot more pressure. This year is just kind of to get used to it, see what it’s all about, see what kind of speed the WHL is and see where I have to be to compete with all these guys. It’s nice to have them all kind of knowing who you are but at the same time it’s nerve-wracking because you have to make sure you can perform and be the best you can be out there. I’ll look at the older players for sure and see how they play, what kind of skill I have to play in the WHL. I look at the younger guys and make sure I pick up my game to beat them.”
Probably the biggest question for the Chiefs is how explosive they’re going to be on offense.
“I don’t really see it as pressure, I see it as expectations,” center Mitch Wahl said. “(Tyler) Johnson, myself, (Levko) Kofer, we know that, we know what we have to do, we know what role we’ll have to fill this year. We know we’re really solid on the back end so if we can step up and be the top guys up front I think we’ll be fine.
“We have high expectations for our team. We have a lot of returning players, a lot of good players, a team that will definitely compete for the U.S. Division. We’ll start with that and see where it leads us.”
Johnson said, “Every year I want to get better, just like our team. That is our goal. We’re going to be solid on the back end. From the offensive perspective, we just worked hard this summer. I’m going to a NHL camp coming up. I’ve got to get ready for that and get back in shape for the season.”