Virden’s Tanner Andrew wrapped up his junior career with a successful stint in one of the British Columbia Hockey League’s pods.
The son of Brock and Andrea Andrew headed west after the COVID-19 pandemic caused the November pause and eventual February cancellation of the season for the Winkler Flyers and the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. The 21-year-old forward suited up for all 20 games the Chilliwack Chiefs played as the hosts of one of the BCHL’s five pods.
“Itwasabreathoffreshairhonestly -justthefeelingofbeingbackintherinkandaroundthe team,” Andrew said. “It was a very humbling experience and I’m blessed to have had the opportunity to playhockeythisyear.”
He excelled in Chilliwack. Andrew finished as one of the team’s top four scorers during the pod season. As well, he won the Prime Signs Harmony Cup as the Chiefs’ Unsung Hero.
“We were most impressed by his work ethic and attitude,” said Brad Rihela, the Chilliwack associate coach and assistant general manager. “Right from the ﬁrst ice time,Tannershowedalotofleadershipanddidagreatjobofbringingouryoungerplayersalong.”
The 5-foot-9, 170-pounderrecorded 13 points for the Chiefs. He finished tied for second on the team with eight goals.
“Tannerhasaveryunderratedskillset,andagreat releaseonhisshot,” Rihela said. “Hehasalotofpoise in high traﬃc areas, which allows him to create offence in a number of differentsituations.”
Andrew had fun with the Chiefs.
“Ireallyenjoyedtheexperienceofbeingabletoplaywithsuchatalentedgroupofguysthat are all driven to make it to the next level. It made coming to the rink a very excitingexperience.”
Chilliwack hosted a pod that also included the Merritt Centennialsand Prince George Spruce Kings. The three teams competed against each other for about five weeks. The Chiefs finished second in the hub with a 13-7-0-0 record to Prince George (14-5-0-1). As the hosts, the Chiefs stayed with their billet families and played all of their games on home ice at the Chilliwack Coliseum.
“I really like how we didn’t have to travel being a hub city,” Andrew said. “It made it a lot easier totransitionintoseason.TheBCHLissuchafastpace andskilledgame,whichplayedintomygamequitenicely.”
Andrew got his feet wet at the junior level when he split the 2017-2018 campaign between the MJHL’s Virden Oil Capitals and the U18 AAA Southwest Cougars. The next season he posted 27 points and split the team’s Rookie of the Year award with Logan Rands. In 2019-2020, Andrew was third on the squad in points with 55 in 47 games. He was a MJHL Second Team All-Star. That season he got to be teammates with his younger brother Hunter.
Andrew expected to head to New York state last fall to study and play NCAA Division I hockey at the Rochester Institute of Technology. However, due to the pandemic, the RIT staff advised him to return to junior hockey.
“Once I decided I was going to come back for another year before going to school, Iwantedtohavethechancetomoveawayfromhomeandexperiencetherealjuniorhockeylifestyle,” he said.
The Oil Caps swapped him to the Flyers. Andrew had four goals and eight points in eight games for Winkler before the season paused.
“IenjoyedatonofmomentsinbothVirdenandWinklerinmytimesthereandIjustcan’tthankmyteammatesandcoachesenoughforhelpingmegettowhereIamtoday,” Andrew said.
Throughout a definitely different and challenging season, Andrew was supported by his family – as he has been throughout his time playing hockey.
“I can’t thank them enough for what they’ve helped me accomplish in my career to this point,” he said. “From my dad being the number one supporter and the best coach there is, to mymomalwaysbeingthereandcheeringmeonthroughtheupsanddowns.I’mtrulyblessedtohavetheminmycorner.”