Hudson Thornton (middle in white jersey) is one of six Chilliwack Chiefs who’ve left for the USHL, with the BCHL unable to play games. (Eric J. Welsh/ The Progress)

Hudson Thornton (middle in white jersey) is one of six Chilliwack Chiefs who’ve left for the USHL, with the BCHL unable to play games. (Eric J. Welsh/ The Progress)

Ethan Bowen sticking with Chilliwack Chiefs even as BCHL season gets pushed back

While some players have left for the USHL where they can play games, the hometown kid is staying put

While several players have chosen to leave the Chilliwack Chiefs for the USHL in recent days, at least one player says he is staying put no matter what.

Chilliwack’s Ethan Bowen said he hasn’t considered jumping ship, even though an extension of provincial health orders means he won’t see any game action until Feb. 5 at the earliest.

“The Chilliwack Chiefs is an amazing organization, and even if we aren’t playing games they are still developing us as hockey players,” he said via text message Friday morning.

The teenager is in a difficult spot. He’s due to head to the University of North Dakota next season and he’s a draft pick of the National Hockey League’s Anaheim Ducks.

Not being able to play games has to be a hit to his development.

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“But the Chiefs have been amazing for me personally and I haven’t even thought about going to play in the USHL, etc,” he said. “We got pushed back by Dr. Bonnie Henry for another month, which sucks, but it’s out of our control. “They are saying the season could be starting anywhere between mid-February and early March. I’m hoping the season will get going soon so me and my teammates can play in front of Chilliwack once again.”

So far the Chiefs have lost forwards Kienan Draper, Ayrton Marino, Tommy Lyons and Frankie Carogioello and defencemen Luke Krys and Hudson Thornton to USHL teams, and Chilliwack hockey boss Brian Maloney conceded Friday morning that his team could lose more.

“Hopefully she (Dr. Henry) lifts the restrictions by then (Feb. 5) so we can salvage the season,” he said. “But honestly no one knows. It’s all media speculation and people guessing. The reality is we’re all dogs on leashes right now.”

Weighing in on the matter of BCHLers leaving for other leagues, BCHL commissioner Chris Hebb had this to say.

“Our players chose the BCHL as the best league for their development, but COVID-19 and the restrictions in B.C. have forced them to look elsewhere,” he acknowledged. “Hockey Canada has protections in place that would keep Canadian players in Canada, but Americans are being recruited to play in the U.S. as long as they are following specific protocols between Hockey Canada and USA Hockey.

“At the end of the day, this is a decision that the players and their families make, but we still intend to play this year and any player that leaves for another league in the U.S. will not be able to come back for the 2020-21 season.”

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