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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Recently acquired Nick Charif excited to be with Chiefs

Spokane defenseman Nick Charif, left, who was acquired from Red Deer in December, battles for the puck with Portland’s Miles Koules earlier this month at the Arena. (Colin Mulvany)

Soon after learning he’d been traded to the Spokane Chiefs, Nick Charif called an old hockey buddy to get the lowdown on his new team.

Although Cole Wedman’s time with the Chiefs had ended seven months before, he gave a glowing report to the 19-year-old Charif.

“Everything was positive from him, so I was excited about coming down,” said Charif, who was traded to Spokane from Red Deer on Dec. 27 for Colton Bobyk. “I’ve known (the Wedmans) for pretty much my whole life. (Cole) just told me the time he had here was awesome.”

Charif and Wedman grew up together in Edmonton, Alberta. Charif played hockey for many years with Wedman’s younger brother, Daniel, who now plays for Cornell University.

Wedman’s father, Greg, coached the boys and turned them all into defensemen.

Cole played three years for the Chiefs before his trade to Moose Jaw in May. He never reported to Moose Jaw’s training camp, returning instead to Edmonton to study dentistry at the University of Alberta.

Charif’s second season with Red Deer was sidetracked after 11 games when he required surgery on his right knee for a torn meniscus. Bobyk’s season was also injury-plagued, so the Chiefs and Rebels swung the late-December deal to give both players a new start.

“I was a little devastated to be leaving all my friends behind, but I was also really excited for the opportunity,” Charif said. “I needed a change, to say the least, so that’s what I was really excited about.”

The Chiefs defeated Tri-City 10-2 in Charif’s Spokane debut on Dec. 31, running their season-high winning streak to seven. Two nights later, Spokane lost 8-1 at Victoria and has dropped seven of its first nine games in 2015.

Charif’s early challenges in Spokane included adapting to his new home and the Chiefs’ different hockey style while hoping the pain he continues to feel in his knee is just loose cartilage.

“What I’ve noticed mostly is the systems,” Charif said. “They’re way different here, but I’ve liked it so far. In the offensive zone we kind of set up differently. The defense pretty much always pinches on the weak side and the forwards are usually on the boards and the defense bumps to the middle.”

Two years ago, Charif’s plans included playing in the United States, but not in the Western Hockey League. He joined the Victoria Grizzlies of the British Columbia Hockey League, assuming that NCAA coaches would analyze his play and perhaps offer a scholarship.

But Charif, who graduated one year early from high school, had taken a few courses at Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton and learned he wasn’t eligible for a full NCAA scholarship.

“So there are tons of complications with that,” Charif said. … “Since all those things happened, and I couldn’t really get a full scholarship, I got a call from Red Deer and went down there for a few days to try out, and played there ever since until I got traded here.”

Charif’s parents, Mike and Ewa, didn’t come from hockey families, but his brother Oliver, 29, gravitated to the sport and passed it along to Nick.

“He’s texting me every day to see how I’m doing, so he kind of lives it through me,” Charif said. “My family’s always been super supportive of me playing hockey and they’ve been the ones to keep pushing me.”