Falcons add gritty winger
Colton Chipman hopes to finally have found a home with the St. Catharines Falcons.
The 19-year-old Niagara Falls native bounced around quite a bit the last few seasons, playing in El Paso, Texas and Ottawa before hooking on with the Falcons just after the 2022/23 season began.
“I was in Ottawa last year and didn’t end up going back,” Chipman said. “I was skating at the start of the year and waiting on some things.
“I just wanted to play at home and try and win, that’s about it.”
Chipman played the 2019/20 season at Ridley College before heading south to Texas to play in the North American Hockey League for a season during the pandemic. He was back in Ontario last year, suiting up for both the Nevan Grads and Smith Falls Bears of the Central Canadian Hockey League.
He also had a brief stint with the Falcons, suiting up for one playoff game in 2020.
“That was one of the main things, just coming home and being close to the family and playing for an organization I was familiar with — a very good organization — and just being home,” he said of joining the Falcons. “I had some really good billet families which I was really lucky with and I’ve been on some good teams which I was happy with.”
Chipman, who netted a goal in his Falcons debut, is expected to bring both depth and experience on the wing.
“Definitely brings hard work, grit and there’s no question he can really shoot a puck,” Falcons coach Tyler Bielby said. “We’re hoping he’ll show up and drive our pace and work hard and be an honest player and help us with some supplementary scoring.”
Chipman has been impressed with what he has seen so far of his new team.
“A really hard-working team. A good group of guys. Tyler runs some good practices, high paced, high tempo and it’s a family so everybody is really close,” he said. “I hope I can bring some goal scoring, play physical, bring some energy and just do whatever I can to help them win.”
Bielby feels the addition of Chipman makes the Falcons better as a team.
“As we talked to our group about that the answer was yes,” Bielby said. “At that time you look at your roster as it stands and see if the addition makes your team better and at this time of year you have to go out and do that work.”
Bielby feels it’s important to look at the roster early in the season with an open mind.
“I tell all the boys this is the time of year where you’re building trust with the coaches. Wherever you are in the lineup you want me paying attention and that comes with being honest and playing the game the right way,” Bielby said. “I think he’s going to come in and earn where he wants to be in the lineup but I know he can help us by working hard and doing the little things right. The rest will be an opportunity for him to earn.”
Chipman grew up around the game — his father Doug Chipman played four seasons with the Niagara Falls Canucks and also coached with the Canucks for several years.
Colton said his father had no issue with him suiting up for one of the Canucks longest rivals.
“He always played for the Canucks,” Colton said. “He was happy with it. St. Catharines is a good team, won the Sutherland Cup last year, so hopefully try and do it again this year.”
The Falcons dropped a 2-0 decision to the Elmira Sugar Kings Friday night at the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League Showcase in Pelham.
Stephen Toltl made 27 saves in net for the Falcons and took the loss.
“Tonight, the harder working team won. We did not come ready to play and the result reflected that,” Bielby said.
St. Catharines, 4-2, take on Sarnia Saturday at 8 p.m.
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