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

Just Posted

First pot shop, more development coming to Lumby

Village growth includes bike park, plans for senior housing, hotel renos

Students call for climate change in the Okanagan and far beyond

Students from the Okanagan and around the world walked out of class in a call for climate action

Vernon Curling Club to kick off star-studded season

Talent, expertise and world champions will shine on local sheets

Shuswap elementary school suspends operations due to ‘musty odour’

Arrangements made for affected Sicamous students to attend class in three other schools

No injuries at car crash in front of Butcher Boys

It’s at least the second vehicle accident this September at the intersection

PHOTOS: Young protesters in B.C. and beyond demand climate change action

Many demonstaers were kids and teens who skipped school to take part

Walmart to quit selling e-cigarettes amid vaping backlash

U.S.’s largest retailer points to ‘growing’ complications in federal, state and local regulations

Climate protesters temporarily shut down road in downtown Kelowna

Protesters are demanding politicans take action to stop climate change

Security footage shows grab and go of cash in South Okanagan business break-in

Marla Black is asking for the public’s help in identifying the man who broke into Winemaster

Vehicle taken by gunpoint in South Okanagan carjacking recovered

Penticton RCMP said the criminal investigation remains very active and ongoing

Former B.C. lifeguard gets house arrest for possession of child porn

Cees Vanderniet of Grand Forks will serve six months of house arrest, then two years’ probation

Crown alleges resentment of ex-wife drove Oak Bay father to kill his daughters

Patrick Weir alleged in his closing arguments that Andrew Berry is responsible for the deaths of his daughters

How to react to Trudeau’s racist photos? With humility, B.C. prof says

‘We are now treating racism as a crime that you cannot recover from’

‘I’d do it again,’ says B.C. man who swam naked, drunk in Toronto shark tank

David Weaver, of Nelson, was drunk when he went to Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto on Oct. 12 2018

Most Read