Chilliwack Chiefs

Kienan Draper returns as Chilliwack Chiefs prep for 2021-22 BCHL season

Frankie Carogioiello is also back in the building as the junior A team loads up for a title run

The 2021-22 BCHL season is coming, and the Chilliwack Chiefs are loading up the roster for a run at the Fred Page Cup.

The BCHL is producing a series of articles looking at each team’s offseason acquisitions. While the Chiefs are bringing back several players from the team that went 14-5-1 in pod action last spring, but hockey boss Brian Maloney has also added several newcomers.

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Kienan Draper (Miami University commit)

A 2002-born forward from Michigan, Draper was with the Chiefs for extended training camp last fall, and produced four goals and five points in 10 games. He left soon after to join the USHL’s Omaha Lancers, but the 2020 Detroit Red Wings draft pick is back.

“Last year, he was in a situation where, with the uncertainty of the season, he wanted to make sure he was able to play some games,” Maloney said. “I couldn’t look at him with a straight face and tell him we were 100 per cent having a season, so he took an opportunity to go down south. We’re pretty excited to have him back. He really started to figure our league out with our structure and everything before he left. He’s a big body that can play a heavy game. He skates well, but what we really like about him is how he can shoot a puck, especially on the fly. We have to get creative in finding ways we can put him in position to get that shot off next year.”

Frankie Carogioiello (Miami University commit)

Carogioiello is another 2002-born forward who was with Chilliwack last fall, recording six points in eight extended training camp games before leaving to join the USHL’s Muskegon Lumberjacks. The Ontario product collected four points in 27 USHL games.

“With Frankie, it’s his legs that separate him from others,” Maloney said. “He’s a quick player. He has really good edges. He can also fire a puck as well. We just have to get him comfortable. He can play up and down in your lineup. He’s a smaller guy, but he has a little bit of bite to his game. He’s not going to shy away from the physical areas. Something that we wanted to address in the offseason was bringing in some guys who have some bite, so we’re excited to have Frankie back.”

Grant Riley (Boston College commit)

The 2002-born goaltender went 1-2-0 in five appearances with the USHL’s Omaha Lancers last year and also played two games with the Tri-City Storm earlier in the season. In 2019-20, the New York import posted a .911 save percentage and finished with a 15-19-2 record with the Janesville Jets of the North American Hockey League.

“We’ve been on Grant for a few years now,” Maloney noted. “He fills that hole that [former starter Mathieu] Caron has left. Grant comes in with a large frame. He’s six-foot-four and over 200 pounds. There are other big goalies out there, but this kid really presents big as well. We took our time grabbing a goaltender and Grant ticked all the boxes for us. Our goalie coach Mackenzie Skapski really loved the kid after the conversations he’s had with him. Grant is super excited to get up here, see the area and start working with our staff right away. He’s heading off to Boston College, so he has a bright future ahead of him. He had a rough year last year, but I think we can get him up here and get him confident. He’s going to be a big piece to our team.”

Josh Orrico (St. Lawrence University commit)

A 2003-born defenceman, Orrico played 10 games with the Massachusetts-based Islanders Hockey Club last year and registered one assist. The year prior, the Ontario product suited up for St. Andrew’s College where he totaled 42 points in 67 games.

“He skates really well and he’s competitive,” Maloney said. “He’s also just a really heads-up defenceman. He can really see the seams and shoot the puck as well. He’s going to bring an offensive element to our back end, but he’s not just an offensive player looking for points. He competes hard, chases guys down and battles in the small areas. He’s also another right-handed defenceman, which is hard to come by these days.”

AJ Lacroix

The 2005-born forward only played a pair of games last year with Delta Hockey Academy U17 prep team in 2020-21, but the year prior, he tore up the Canadian Sport School Hockey League’s U15 circuit with West Van Academy, finishing with 26 goals and 60 points in 30 games.

“First and foremost, I love the kid,” Maloney said. “He’s a really respectful young man. He’s focused. He’s been out here and trained at our gym already and been around the guys. He’s excited to jump into this league. You see him around guys that have been here a while like Ethan Bowen and he’s already asking them questions. Some nights he might struggle to find his way in this league, but there’s other nights where he can play top-six minutes. He has a bright future ahead and we look forward to seeing him grow.”

Lucas Sorace

Although technically a member of the Chiefs last year, the 2004-born defenceman from Port Moody most recently played regular-season games in 2019-20 with Burnaby Winter Club’s Elite 15s where he put up 21 points in 34 games from the back end. That same year, he also played in one game as an affiliate for the Chiefs.

“He’s been affiliated with our program for a bit now and he’s really taken the steps to become a BCHL player next season,” Maloney said. “He’s still young, but he really took off as far as his growth spurt. He grew into his body a bit and became stronger. When you watch him play, he’ll be one of the smoothest skaters at his age in our league next year. He’s a really heads-up, smart, high-end defenceman and we can’t wait to be a part of his development.”

Thomas Messineo

A 2002-born blueliner from Massachusetts, Messineo most recently suited up for St. Sebastian’s in 2019-20 and finished his year with two goals and 13 points in 28 games.

“He’s a kid that we were talking to a lot over the last couple years,” Maloney said. “He’s a really nice, smooth skater and a puck-moving defenceman. He’s not a flashy player, but you’ll see him use his feet to get out of traffic and skate away from danger. He’s going to be exciting to have in our group. We don’t want one-dimensional players back there. We want all of our players to be able to move. He’s got a good frame to him. I’m excited to help him grow.”

Brady Milburn

A 2005-born forward from Kamloops who’s the younger brother of Chiefs vet Connor Milburn, Brady had two assists in four games for the Thompson Blazers U18 AAA squad last year. In 2019-20, he managed 45 points in 29 games for Yale Hockey Academy’s U15 team.

“Brady is a phenomenal kid with a great family,” Maloney said. “Their other brother Reagan is over in Vernon as well, so there’s some good hockey bloodlines there. Brady is a big kid that can move and shoot the puck. Like anyone, he’s going to struggle some nights as a 16-year-old coming into the league, but he also has a big frame – he’s close to 200 pounds already. If he uses his body to protect pucks, he’s going to have success in this league.”

Cole Savage

A 2003-born goaltender from Langley, Savage comes to the Chiefs after four years in the Yale Academy program, including the last two with the U18 team. In 2019-20, he posted an 11-9-0 record, a .909 save percentage and a 2.98 goals-against average in 21 contests.

“This is the first year that I’ve had to come in here and fill two spots for goaltenders,” Maloney said. “We love Cole’s work ethic. He’s a phenomenal kid who works extremely hard. He’s a little bit younger than Grant, so this gives us a little bit of youth back there that we expect to have here for a couple years at least. He’s going to come in and push Grant, which you like. It’s new for both of those kids, so they have a lot to prove.”

Chad Muller

The nephew of former NHL player and current Calgary Flames assistant coach Kirk Muller, the 2003-born forward from Ontario comes to the BCHL after several years with the Greater Kingston Frontenacs program. In 2019-20, he notched 27 points in 33 games.

“We’re excited to add Chad to this group,” Maloney said. “He has some serious bite to his game, so he won’t shy away from the physical side. Like I said earlier, that’s an area that we wanted to address. He’s a kid that can shoot the puck and he brings that right-handed shot that we needed.”

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