author: kaitlynn nordal | staff writer
Conner Chaulk is one of the athletes joining the green and gold / Candace Ward Photography
Men’s hockey team recruits three new WHL players
For Conner Chaulk, life has always been about keeping his head up and his stick on the ice.
“I first got into hockey by my dad,” Chaulk recalled. “He played hockey and got me into it when I was young, and I really enjoyed it.”
Chaulk first started playing in the Western Hockey League when he was 18, where he played centre and left wing for the Swift Current Broncos.
“I really in enjoyed my time in the WHL and wouldn’t change it for anything.”
Chaulk, along with James Hilsendager and Brennan Riddle, join the recruiting class for the University of Regina’s men’s hockey team for the 2018-19 season, as all three recently completed their final year of eligibility. Hilsendager and Riddle are from the WHL’s Western Conference, originating from the Kelowna Rockets and Vancouver Giants respectively (though Hilsendager did play from the Regina Pats before). Chaulk is the lone representative from the Eastern Conference, hailing from the Calgary Hitmen (editor’s note: Shout out my local boys!). All three players have all had the honours of being alternate captains during their time in the major juniors. Chaulk and Riddle were alternate captains on their previous teams before both were traded in season, while Hilsendager wore the A for the Rockets in his final season in the WHL.
Once players age out of the WHL, professional and/or university teams get access to them the December 1 of that year. As such, the Cougars sent their scouts out to see what kind of talent they can get their hands on.
Cougars Coach Todd Johnson, who had started scouting Chaulk a few years prior to this season, was eager to sign him the second he became a free agent. When asked how this business student now feels about playing for the Cougars he said, “I am really excited to get going with the Cougars and excited to start playing in U SPORTS, as it is a whole new experience.”
Coach Johnson had done his homework on each of the players. When asked about what each player brings to the team, he had high praise for each player, mentioning that each come with their own hype surrounding them.
“Chaulk established himself as a solid two-way forward at the major junior level. Hilsendager made a name for himself as a reliable defenceman with the Pats and in Kelowna, and Riddle is a guy we think has untapped offensive potential as he comes to the U SPORTS level. Each one of these guys will bring a ton to our dressing room.”
And it is a dressing room that needs of anything more than any other team on campus after the season they had last year. After going 4-22-2 in 2017-18, the trio are sure to have a lot on their plate as they attempt to improve the men’s hockey team so that they have even the smallest shred of decency. The fans need something to cheer for coming into the new year, so the pressure is on for the three WHL recruits to not only produce but produce quickly.
Chaulk himself has very high hopes for this upcoming hockey season, mentioning his desire to be a performer for the team.
“I am hoping personally to have a good year with the Cougars and put up some good numbers, and from a team perspective, to win games and get into the playoffs.”
As cliché as the above quote sounds, the Cougars do need a strong contributor on their road back to anything resembling respectable. This is a team that hasn’t had a record even close to .500 since 2012-13. Having a player who scored 20 points in his final 35 WHL games might be a spark that can send the Cougars in the right direction.
When asked about Chaulk and his role, Coach Johnson had nothing but good things to say about his new player.
“He has grown to be better and better player over the last three year. He has proven to be responsible defensively and has put up good numbers.”
Johnson also said, “I have high hopes he will be good defensively and offensively he will continue to grow as a player.”
One can hope that with these three joining the Cougars, that is the right type of mix that the Cougars need. Fans, and more importantly the University management, are eagerly awaiting a successful season for the team.