As of Monday, the 18-year-old Nolan Chstko from Brandon was second in goals in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. He has scored 26 in 41 contests this season. This put him just behind the Winkler Flyers’ Dalton Andrew, who had 28 in 39 contests.
In a 6-3 road victory over the OCN Blizzard on Jan. 20, Chastko recorded a hat trick and four points. In five other contests this season, he has lit the lamp twice.
“Nolan is one of the most natural goal scorers I have ever coached,” Virden head coach Tyson Ramsey said. “He has a great shot and can score in so many different ways.”
This season the 5-foot-8, 152-pound Chastko has recorded 43 points. That puts him just one point behind Josh Lehto’s 44 for the team lead. Chastko’s stellar sophomore season follows an impressive rookie campaign. With 20 goals and 43 points in 54 games in 2022-2023, he was named a MJHL Rookie Team All-Star. In addition, Chastko earned the Oil Capitals’ Three Star Award, Top Scorer honour, and Rookie of the Year trophy. However, he did not rest on his laurels.
“What has been most impressive about Nolan this season though is how much his skating and speed have improved since last season,” Ramsey said. “He can now get to places to score that he sometimes couldn't last year. He can put pressure on opposing D-men and challenge them with his speed. Nolan is a very intelligent player and just seems to get better every time out.”
Chastko was not afraid to work hard in the offseason – and it has paid off.
“The biggest thing I focused on off the ice was my foot speed and quickness,” he said. “On the ice, it would have to be my shot and translating that speed onto the ice.”
In the offseason, Chastko helped the WCHA Puckers make it to the Division I championship tilt of the Wendy’s Summer Hockey League in Brandon. The division attracts junior, pro, and university players.
“I feel like the Wendy’s Summer League helps with staying in somewhat game shape,” he said. “Obviously it’s not as intense as an MJ game, but it’s still competitive and keeps you in that game-like manner.”
His offseason work has helped the Oil Capitals to the top of the MJHL MGEU West Division.
“We have a really tight group, so I’ve enjoyed going to the rink every day and just being with the guys whether it’s at the rink or away from the rink at someone’s house,” said Chastko, who billets with Jack and Karen Forster.