Chilliwack Chiefs defenceman Powell Connor closes the gap on Penticton Vees forward Ryan Sandelin in BCHL play. (Black Press Sports)                                Chilliwack Chiefs defenceman Powell Connor closes the gap on Penticton Vees forward Ryan Sandelin in BCHL play. (Black Press Sports)

Chilliwack Chiefs defenceman Powell Connor closes the gap on Penticton Vees forward Ryan Sandelin in BCHL play. (Black Press Sports) Chilliwack Chiefs defenceman Powell Connor closes the gap on Penticton Vees forward Ryan Sandelin in BCHL play. (Black Press Sports)

Connor commits to Michigan State

Chilliwack Chiefs d-man Powell Connor high on Spartans

Courted by half a dozen NCAA schools, Powell Connor talked to his parents Saturday and placed a call to the Michigan State University (MSU) Spartans head coach Danton Cole.

The 17-year-old Chilliwack Chiefs defenceman committed (for 2019-20) to the Big 10 Conference powerhouse which has sent 500 players to the NHL, including current stars Duncan Keith, Torey Krug and Justin Abdelkader. The Spartans play out of the 6,470-seat Munn Ice Arena.

“I flew down for a one-day trip last week and it was really nice,” said Connor, who was born in Chilliwack but began his minor hockey career in Vernon. “The campus is huge and they have top-of-the-line facilities. They’re looking to upgrade the rink and it’s already nice. They want to add new dressing rooms.”

A sophomore with the Chiefs, Connor met the coaching staff and was shown around the East Lansing grounds by former Chief teammate Jake Smith. Connor earlier flew to Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. to check out the Lake Superior State Lakers of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.

“There were a lot of reasons I chosen Michigan State, but I liked that I will have the opportunity to play right away and develop for pro hockey. They lose two d-men this year and one next year so I’ll be the young guy and hopefully we can do good things. It’s one of the best conferences in the NCAA. You play against all the top teams and a lot of the best NHL players have gone there. I’m excited and really looking forward to the experience.”

The menacing 6-foot-2, 185-pounder is a gym rat and figures MSU was high on his play-till-ya-drop style.

“I bring a bit of an old-school style. I can play physical and I can move pucks up the ice. I want to keep getting bigger so I can compete at the college level.”

Connor cheers for the Oilers and Lightning and loves to watch NHL blueliners Victor Hedman (of the Bolts) and St Louis captain Alex Pietrangelo.

Dennis Holland, a full-time scout with the Dallas Stars, has filed several checklists on Connor, watching him closely at the Team Canada West Under 17 training camp in Calgary in early December.

“He’s a young d-man with lots of emotion and energy,” said the Vernon-based Holland. “He brings a physical element to his game, he’s got a heavy shot and he can skate. His physicality is intriguing. He looks to be part of the solution by being so engaged. You can never have enough players like that.”

Chilliwack head coach/GM Jason Tatarnic said the Chiefs had Connor on their radar well before signing him as a 16-year-old.

“He was at our spring camps so we identified him when was pretty young,” said Tatarnic. “We liked him. At the time, he had no fear. He didn’t care if you were a 20-year-old or a 16-year-old. He defended well. He’s committed. He takes care of his body and he eats well. He loves playing the game; you can really tell he wants to be out there. He has a good skill set, a great shot and he can jump into the rush.”

Tatarnic loves Connor’s versatility and reliability, and uses him on the penalty kill and power play.

Connor, who played one year of Major Midget Quad with the Okanagan Rockets before joining the Chiefs, rang up three goals and 16 points as a rookie with Chilliwack. The soft-spoken student of the game has two goals, 19 points and 49 penalty minutes this season. He turns 18 in May and has shown up on past NHL Central Scouting prospect lists.

Retired NHLer Sandy Moger coached Connor in Bantam Tier 1 and Atom Development in Vernon.

“He’s always been a hard worker and a good kid,” said Moger, director of hockey operations for Greater Vernon Minor Hockey Association. “He’s smart and I always thought he’d make it to Junior A and probably get a scholarship. He does everything well.”

RELATED:

Czech gold for duo

BCHL

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Okanagan’s first virtual wedding fair will be held Saturday, March 27. {Paul Rodgers photo)
Okanagan to host virtual wedding fair

Okanagan wine country is No. 1 destination for weddings - online event set for March 27

The Okanagan High Rim Trail officially opened in April 1994. Pictured are Western Canada Wilderness Committee volunteers Bruce Sumner and Jean Elmer. (Greater Vernon Museum and Archives photo #14932)
Vernon history in pictures

A look at the opening of a trail running from Vernon to Kelowna

Vernon Search and Rescue, with help from the Air Rescue One helicopter out of Wildcat Helicopters in Kelowna, and Central Okanagan Search and Rescue, were able to transport an injured snowmobiler to Vernon Regional Airport, where he was loaded into an ambulance and taken to Vernon Jubilee Hospital with a serious, painful back injury. (Facebook photo)
Okanagan helicopter rescue teams called to retrieve injured sledder at Greystokes

Vernon and Central Okanagan Search and Rescue help load injured man into waiting helicopter

Kerri and Kevin Black are highlighted for their volunteer work with the Carr's Landing Community and Recreation Association. (Contributed)
Lake Country couple’s passion to make a difference

Spotlight on Carr’s Landing Community and Recreation Association volunteers

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

(Contributed)
Kelowna flight potentially exposed to COVID-19

Third case on a local flight this month, compared to 14 through January

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by RCMP near Tofino, police watchdog investigating

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Wills Hodgkinson, 10, and his mom Neeley Brimer get ready to battle round three of cancer. The community of Penticton has his back. (Submitted)
Community raises $21K to help Penticton boy battle third round of cancer

Okanoggin Barbers held the fundraiser on Saturday for 10-year-old Wills Hodgkinson

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
UPDATE: 70-year-old man killed in workplace accident at Baldy Mountain

The mountain closed on Saturday but has partially re-opened today (Sunday)

Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

Chase RCMP held two men involved in drunken disturbances overnight in their detachment’s cells on Feb. 6. (File Photo)
Chase RCMP hold two men involved in drunken disturbances overnight

The two separate incidents took place less than an hour apart.

Most Read