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

NDP candidate Harwinder Sandhu, right, and incumbent Liberal Eric Foster went head-to-head in a tight race for the Vernon-Monashee seat in the Legislature. By the night’s end Oct. 24, the results were too close to call and the final count will be dependant on outstanding mail-in ballots. (Contributed)
Too close to call in Vernon-Monashee race

Incumbent Foster holds slim lead over NDP Sandhu, mail-in ballots still to come

Advance polling saw nearly 10,000 votes cast in Vernon-Monashee. Pictured: Schubert Centre. (Jennifer Smith - Vernon Morning Star)
BC VOTES 2020: Live results roll in for Vernon-Monashee race

That’s a wrap on voting in the provincial 2020 election

BC Liberal Party Shuswap candidate Greg Kyllo and wife Georgina celebrate another successful campaign, with preliminary results for the 42nd provincial general election showing Greg winning the riding with a comfortable majority. (Jim Elliot-Salmon Arm Observer)
Shuswap’s Greg Kyllo faces third term and BC NDP majority

BC NDP candidate Sylvia Lindgren celebrates party’s success

NDP headquarters on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
ELECTION 2020: Live blog from B.C. party headquarters

BC NDP projected to win majority government – but celebrations will look different this election

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Premier John Horgan during a press conference at the BC Transit corporate office following an announcement about new investments to improve transit for citizens in the province while in Victoria on Thursday, July 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Trudeau congratulates Horgan on NDP’s election victory in British Columbia

Final count won’t be available for three weeks due to the record number of 525,000 ballots cast by mail

Provincial Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau speaks at Provincial Green Party headquarters at the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe in Victoria. (Arnold Lim / Black Press)
VIDEO: Furstenau leads BC Greens to win first riding outside of Vancouver Island

Sonia Furstenau became leader of BC Greens one week before snap election was called

NDP Leader John Horgan elbow bumps NDP candidate Coquitlam-Burke Mountain candidate Fin Donnelly following a seniors round table in Coquitlam, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, NDP head for majority in B.C. election results

Record number of mail-in ballots may shift results

The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Majority of international travellers since March deemed ‘essential’, avoid quarantine

As of Oct. 20, 3.5 million travellers had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

Voters are saying they felt safe voting in person despite the current pandemic. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Central Okanagan voters talk about their pandemic election experience

Despite an election taking place during COVID-19, residents said they felt safe voting in person

Efforts to replace the aging Rutland Middle School have been put off by another year by the ministry of education. (File photo)
Education ministry won’t replace Central Okanagan school anytime soon

New Westside Secondary top priority for ministry of education

Most Read