Newark, NJ – The next stop for New Jersey Devils prospect Chase Stillman is pro hockey.
Up until last night, Stillman was competing in the CHL’s Memorial Cup tournament. As of Friday, however, the Peterborough Petes season has come to an end.
The Petes wrote themselves some unlikely stories in 2022-23. They claimed the OHL Championship after finishing 10th in the regular season. Despite winning a championship, the Petes entered the Memorial Cup as the lowest-ranked seed, fourth overall. They overcame the odds and made it to the semi-final outplaying their rank.
It seemed a tall order for the Petes to get as far as they did, too. In the first two games of the tournament, Peterborough dropped Game 1 6-3 to the Seattle Thunderbirds and the following 10-2 to host Kamloops Blazers.
Somehow, the Petes scratched and clawed their way to victory over the Quebec Ramparts, the tournament’s first seed, starring down the face of elimination.
Thursday night’s tilt, however, looked like the Petes’ magic had run out. The Blazers held a 3-1 lead over the Petes with just under 40 minutes left to play.
Chase Stillman turns the Peterborough Petes season around👀👊 pic.twitter.com/WtAdD7k5sE
— Everything Hockey (@EHClothing) June 3, 2023
Stillman turned the attention of hockey fans everywhere to the Memorial Cup on Thursday delivering a clean, yet crushing hit on Matt Seminoff. He was forced to defend himself against Caedan Bankie who he also absolutely obliterated.
The Blazers scored once more to make it a 4-1 game before the Petes jumped on the back of the momentum Stillman created. Peterborough rallied to score three goals in the second period and locked the game down in the third. They’d win it in overtime on the stick of J.R. Avon.
“Honestly, it was nothing on the bench (that turned the game around),” Avon said following his game-winning goal. “Chase Stillman’s hit and fight woke us all up. What he did out there got the team going, I think.”
TSN’s Kevin Sawyer echoed the same sentiment from the announcer’s booth: “It was a big hit and he followed it up with a fight. Steel toes, hard nose hockey from Stillman, and that put a wet blanket on the crowd here in Kamloops. It quieted things down, everything except for the 20 guys on the bench wearing white jerseys. That corralled momentum and instilled some belief on the bench for the Peterborough Petes. It wasn’t long before they started to march to tie the game and the rest is history. Chase Stillman started that all off.”
The Petes’ season came to an end after a second loss to the Thunderbirds. Seattle will go on to face the Ramparts in the Final on Sunday.
Stillman’s 2022-23 was a replica of his 2021-22 season. He matched his goal total, scoring 19 goals. He added 29 assists to total 48 points in 59 games, one point shy of his total last season.
EPRinkside described Stillman heading into his draft year as a player whose “shooting and passing skills appear NHL caliber in flashes, just waiting to be unlocked by better details.”
EliteProspects’ outlook on him made itself much more present in recent history:
“Call it motor or energy or engagement or drive — Stillman has it. He is willing to go above and beyond, willing to play whatever role needed to the maximum of his ability to give his team the win. He knows when to go after to try and retrieve it, and will head to the best areas of the ice to get a scoring chance off.”
Stillman only collected one assist in five games of the Memorial Cup. On the Petes’ OHL championship run, he collected four goals and 13 points in 21 games.
With players like Brennan Othman and Owen Beck on his team, the Petes didn’t need to rely on Stillman for scoring. Instead, Stillman asserted himself as a relentless forechecker that isn’t afraid to utilize his size physically. Now that his Junior career has come to an end after aging out of contention, his style of play is something the Devils organization can certainly use.
Stillman will take the summer to train for his next steps. The Devils 2021 first-round pick will attend rookie camp and training camp in September and try to make an impression on Devils head coach Lindy Ruff.
There’s still plenty for General Manager Tom Fitzgerald to figure out in terms of expiring contracts. However, Stillman is unlikely to claim a spot on the Devils’ roster just yet. Instead, he’s more likely to play for their American Hockey League affiliate, Utica Comets.
Stillman will compete in training camp with fellow prospects Alexander Holtz, Nolan Foote, and Graeme Clark for a chance to play in the NHL. Stillman is more likely to call a few of those players teammates in Utica.
True to his profile, Stillman is still waiting to be unlocked by better details in his game. He’ll develop those skills at the professional level now with the Comets beginning in the 2023-24 season. Stillman established himself as a difference-maker with his body at the Jr. level. Standing at 6-1, 185 lbs, he’s already the size of a professional hockey player. The St. Louis, Missouri native will now try and assert himself in hockey’s second-highest-ranked professional league while also searching for ways to unlock his offensive prowess.
The Devils acquired Timo Meier for many reasons, one of them being his physicality and something they hope to keep long-term. However, with or without him, the Devils still lack that element on their roster. Stillman’s makeup is certainly something the Devils hope to eventually insert into their lineup down the road. His recent body of work is an encouraging sign moving forward.