Monday, September 22, 2014

UNH Freshman Dylan Chanter Brings Physicality to the Blue Line

UNH Freshman Defenseman
Dylan Chanter (Photo:

This time last year, 6'3", 230 lbs defenseman Dylan Chanter was a player on a mission. In his first year of eligibility for the NHL Draft, Chanter (DOB: 9/17/1995) left the familiar environs of British Columbia to play for the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the United States Hockey League.

Chanter, a native of Armstrong, British Columbia, had played two seasons with the Merritt Centennials of the British Columbia Hockey League. In his rookie season (2011-12), Chanter was one of only three 16-year-old defensemen to play the entire year in the BCHL. He had already grown to 6'3" and his potential as a NHL draft pick was obvious. Cents' Head Coach Luke Pierce described Chanter as:
"A physical specimen who plays with overpowering aggressiveness. Will be a draft pick."
In his second season with Merritt, he lead all Cents' defensemen in goal scoring with 9 goals, including 3 power play goals. Among all BCHL defensemen, Chanter was tied for 3rd in goal scoring.

When I interviewed Dylan last year about his decision to play for the Dubuque Fighting Saints in the United States, he said:
"The primary reasons behind my decision were development, change, and continuing to push the envelope. I felt that Dubuque was going to be a good place to further develop myself as a hockey player with NHL calibre coaching with Matt Shaw as well as a winning attitude. I also thought it was time for a change. As much as I enjoyed my last 2 seasons in Merritt, I didn't think a third season there was a smart decision. Lastly, pushing the envelope played the primary role in my decision to play in Dubuque. I felt that this was my best option to prepare myself for UNH and eventually professional hockey. All in all it was a family decision and we felt that this was the best step in continuing my hockey career."
Historically, more players are drafted into the NHL from the USHL than the Canadian Junior A Leagues. For example, in the 2013 NHL Draft, 32 USHLers were drafted while 7 players were drafted out of the BCHL. Chanter's move to the USHL provided more exposure to NHL scouts and had the potential to improve his chances of being drafted in the 2014 NHL Draft. Ironically, a tragic incident involving Chanter early in the USHL season brought him unprecedented recognition throughout the hockey community and beyond.

The Incident

On Saturday October 12, 2013, in only his second game in a Dubuque Fighting Saints uniform (#4), Dylan Chanter dropped the gloves and squared off against Corey Petrash of the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders. As they exchanged punches, Chanter's helmet flew off an instant before he fell backwards, hitting his unprotected head on the ice. I've ended the video clip without showing the horrifying sight of Dylan Chanter lying on the ice having a full body seizure.

After regaining consciousness, Chanter was taken by ambulance to a local hospital for evaluation, then airlifted to Iowa City Hospital for a neurological exam. He was released later that night and returned to the home of his billet family in Dubuque. By the following morning, news of Chanter's injury and calls to ban fighting in the USHL appeared in newspapers all over North America. In an article in The New York Times, Dr. Michael J. Stuart, chief medical officer for USA Hockey, said "The time to stop fighting in junior hockey is now.” ***

Thankfully, Chanter recuperated and prepared for his return within a few weeks. In a feature article in USA Today the day before his first game back, Chanter said:
"Fighting needs to be part of the game. I'm not going to approach the game any differently. I'm not going to be scared out there. That's just the way it was that night. I don't know how soon. If it happens, it happens. I'm not going to go out there looking for a fight. … (But) if the opportunity presents itself and tempers flare, it will happen. I'm not a guy that typically relied on fighting. But I have size, so I'm not going to shy away from it. But it is not a huge part of my game. I'm rugged and physical, and I expect it to happen."
The following night, November 8, 2013, Dubuque faced the Lumberjacks in Muskegon. Early in the third period, Dylan Chanter got in a fight with Myles McGurty (see first clip in highlight reel below). Neither were injured.

Return Home to British Columbia

Dylan Chanter #24 Vernon Vipers
(Photo: Lisa VanderVelde/Black Press)
Chanter continued playing for Dubuque until mid-December but his move to the USHL was not working out. Over the Christmas holidays, he decided to return to the BCHL to play for the Vernon Vipers:
“I want to go to college next year and be ready, and I didn’t feel I was going to be ready if I stayed for the rest of the season there (in the USHL). It’s my hometown team (Vernon Vipers), essentially. It’s been a lifelong thing to play here, and growing up watching them I never thought I would get the chance to. Now I’ve got that chance and I’m going to make the most of it.”
It took a while for Chanter to regain the form that he had displayed in his prior two BCHL seasons with the Merritt Centennials. He did not score during the remaining 19 games of the Vipers' regular season. However, come playoff time, Chanter cranked up his production scoring 4 goals and 3 assists. He was a key factor in Vernon's advance to the finals of the Fred Page Cup.

Chanter began the 2013-24 season hoping to advance his prospects for selection in the 2014 NHL Draft. Following the scary incident early in the season, Chanter wanted to be recognized as more than that guy who had a seizure on the ice during a hockey fight. As it turned out, his return to Vernon and outstanding play in the BCHL playoffs earned him what he had sought all along. When the NHL Central Scouting Service released it's 2014 Final Rankings in early April, Dylan Chanter was on the list for the first time. He was rated as the 164th North American skater (on a list of 210 skaters).

In early May, a month before the NHL Draft in Philadelphia, the International Scouting Service published this assessment of Dylan Chanter:
"Shutdown defenceman … smart … quick to react in his own end … strong skater … moves the puck well … keeps things simple in defensive zone … can separate puck carrier from the puck."
Although, Chanter was not drafted by an NHL team in June, it's safe to say that he has attracted the attention of some in the scouting community. Obviously, a successful career at UNH will only help him to reach his dream of playing in the NHL.

2013-14 Highlight Reel

Coach's Report

Dylan Chanter worked with the coaching staff of the Vernon Vipers throughout the second half of the regular season and BCHL playoffs. In May, Vernon also hosted the 2014 RBC Cup - Canada's National Junior A Championship. The Vipers advanced to the semifinals but lost to eventual champion Yorkton Terriers. I had an opportunity to interview Vernon Vipers' Associate Coach Kris Mallette and Assistant Coach David Robinson regarding Dylan Chanter's strengths and readiness for NCAA hockey:

Mike Lowry ("C-H-C"): What are Dylan's strengths and how did he develop during the second half of the season with the Vipers?
Coach Kris Mallette: I think once Dylan was finally able to get into a steady rhythm of games he progressed well. He battled injuries for most of the first half and by the time playoffs came he was able to work himself into a top 4 rotation. He is a big body who is physically strong and plays well defensively.
Coach David Robinson: Chants was a big, solid defenceman for us. He was not only very physical for us, but he was able to make plays with the puck that really showed his natural abilities. He has a pro shot already that could be utilized in offensive situations.

Mike Lowry: What kind of adjustments will Dylan need to make as he begins his NCAA career?
Coach Mallette: I think his foot speed will need to improve and his decisions will need to be quicker but I'm confident once he becomes comfortable he will be a good defensive defenceman at the college level.
Coach Robinson: With his physical attributes and natural abilities he has the potential to turn into a solid all around defenceman. Obviously making that jump to the NCAA level he will have to get used to the speed of the game. He's a hard working kid, on and off the ice, that will just have to trust his instincts and not think too much out there on the ice.

Career Statistics

Player Season Team League GP Goals Asst Pts PIM
Dylan Chanter  (D) 2013-14 Vernon Vipers BCHL 19 0 0 0 16
Playoffs BCHL 19 4 3 7 18
Dubuque Fighting Saints USHL 14 1 1 2 21
2012-13 Merritt Centennials BCHL 56 9 11 20 31
Playoffs BCHL 5 1 0 1 8
2011-12 Merritt Centennials BCHL 53 2 11 13 47
Playoffs BCHL 9 1 1 2 0
2010-11 Pursuit of Excellence 16U Midget Minor 56 4 18 22 38

*** In early June, 2014, USA Hockey changed the rule on fighting in the USHL and NAHL. Starting this season, any fighting major penalty (5 minutes) will be accompanied by an additional 10 minute misconduct penalty. Any player penalized for "major" fighting will have to sit in the penalty box for 15 minutes. Who knows - maybe this rule will come to be known as the "Chanter Rule".


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