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Tri-Cities-based hockey club two wins away from scoring ticket to U18 AAA nationals

The Vancouver North East Chiefs claimed their second provincial title in team history and look to carry momentum through the pacific regional series with Calgary.
VancouverNorthEastChiefsBCProvincialChampionsMarch262022Oliver AuyeungAshton
The Vancouver North East Chiefs are the 2022 BCEHL U18 AAA champions after sweeping the finals 2-0 against the Vancouver North West Hawks. The club is compiled of players from across the Tri-Cities, Burnaby, New Westminster and Ridge Meadows.

After five years of semi-final exits and a COVID-19 pandemic, the Vancouver North East Chiefs are now eyeing the big stage.

The Tri-Cities-based squad hoisted the Cromie Memorial Cup for just the second time in program history last Saturday (March 26), defeating their BC Elite Hockey League (BCEHL) rivals, the Vancouver North West Hawks, by a score of 4–2 at Planet Ice Coquitlam.

That completed a best-of-three finals' series sweep, 2-0, under head coach Jamie Jackson and general manger Greg Harding.

They downed the Hawks in Game One on Friday (March 25) with a 3–2 overtime victory.

The last time the Chiefs won a provincial banner was in 2015 and included the likes of Columbus Blue Jackets' 2021 first draft pick Kent Johnson, Parker Colley, Caleb Fantillo and Liam McCloskey.

This now means the Chiefs are one step closer to potentially qualifying for the 2022 TELUS Cup — the national championship for boys under-18 AAA hockey teams across Canada.

And while there will be home ice advantage, they'll have to tame the stampede of the Alberta-champion Calgary Buffaloes in order to earn the pacific regional ticket to the six-team tournament.

Vancouver North East is set to play a best-of-three series with the winner heading to the nationals scheduled for May 16 to 22.

Dryden Kuramoto led the Chiefs' 2022 playoff run with 11 points in seven games, including three goals and eight assists.

Goaltender Oliver Auyeung-Ashton started between the pipes in every playoff game to a record of 6–1; this followed an 18–2–1 record and a .916 save-percentage in regular season play, which was the second best in the BCEHL.

Tomis Marinkovic, who signed a WHL contract with the Calgary Hitmen two days before the Chiefs clinched the blue banner, captained the 2021–22 club and completed his final minor-league season with 40 points in 32 games.

This included 21 goals and 19 assists — the eighth-highest in the BCEHL's U18 AAA division this year.


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His leadership and scoring abilities lifted Vancouver North East to the top of the regular-season standings with an overall record of 26–4–1–5.

The blue, red and white swept the North Island Silvertips 2-0 in the first round and knocked the Greater Vancouver Canadians out of the semis, 2–1.

Heading into the playoffs, the Chiefs were 15th in the under-18 AAA national rankings and were the only BCEHL team on the final list from March 21.

The highest the team reached was eighth in the standings for the week of Dec. 6, 2021.

The Vancouver North East Chiefs represent communities like Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Anmore, Belcarra, Burnaby, New Westminster and Ridge Meadows.

There are two WHL-signed athletes on the current roster, Marinkovic and Tait Humphries (Saskatoon Blades), and eight committed to BCHL teams in the fall.

The Chiefs will host the Buffaloes with the following schedule:

  • Friday (April 1), 7 p.m. at Langley Events Centre
  • Saturday (April 2), 7:45 p.m. at Scotia Barn (Burnaby)

If a third and deciding match is needed, the Chiefs will play Sunday morning (April 3) at 11 a.m. in Scotia Barn.


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