The British Columbia Hockey League season continues to charge forward at full steam. Last week was full of surprises but things are now starting to get back to normal with a few exceptions.
The BCHL Insider is exactly that...a coach, or employee, with incredible insight into the league.
Now for the disclosure… the following is my opinion and not written under the influence of anything or anybody.
1 – Prince George Spruce Kings (6-2-0-1): PG dropped two of three games on the road last week and are happy to be back home for the next four. That party kicks off Thursday with Wenatchee. Victoria is in Friday. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: A veteran lineup and home cookin’ helps, but these are two pretty good teams coming to the RMCA this week. PG will have their hands full.
2 – Powell River Kings (5-2-0-0): The Kings split a pair on the road last week and will play the next three at home. Cowichan Valley, Trail, and Langley visit Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: Odds are good the Kings take two of the three. The Hap is a tough place to win games for visitors.
3 – Coquitlam Express (7-3-0-0): The Express are winners in six straight games. Let that sit in for a bit. Surrey is back for more punishment tomorrow before Coquitlam visits Chilliwack and Surrey to close out the week. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: Coquitlam can get fat in the short term on Eagle meat but it’s a long season. Still, the Express are for real.
4 – Chilliwack Chiefs (7-3-0-0): The Chiefs were rolling through the weekend until that little bump in Victoria. Those things have to be quickly forgotten. No problem boys, Coquitlam and Wenatchee visit this weekend. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: The worst thing the Chiefs can do is start believing their own hype. Their opponents this weekend will push them hard.
5 - Victoria Grizzlies (6-3-0-0): The Grizz have wins in three straight games and get a grand opportunity to see if they are for real this week on the road. Victoria rolls (and floats) eleven hours up to Prince George (Friday), before bussing seven hours to Salmon Arm (Saturday). After visiting West Kelowna (Sunday), it’s only another six or seven hours back home to Victoria. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: That travel alone will cripple most teams. If it affects the Grizz negatively, it’s pretty understandable.
6 - Penticton Vees (4-3-0-0): I figured that the Vees would come out of the deep end quickly. Penticton doubled up at Merritt 6-3 Friday before shutting out Alberni Valley 2-0 at home. This weekend’s home-and-home set with Vernon will be interesting. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: The Vees will start to resemble the Vees we are used to seeing. Expect a lot of penalties this weekend though as tempers rise.
7 - Trail Smoke Eaters (4-3-1-0): The Smokies got hammered by a road-weary Wenatchee team and Saturday and will have to shake that off before taking a trip of their own this weekend. Trail visits Powell River, Alberni Valley, and Nanaimo. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: Trail has to travel to the island but gets to play 2 of the BCHL’s 4 sub-.500 teams. That helps pave the way to a good trip.
8 - Wenatchee Wild (5-4-0-0): It’s the Wild, so losing is never going to be acceptable. Head coach Bliss Littler’s group is nine games into a string of eleven away from home to start the season. This week’s run up to PG, and back towards Wenatchee with a stop in Chilliwack, will conclude the season opening adventure. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: Two of the BCHL’s top three teams, and on the road. Wenatchee will surely have to dig deep to have any success on this trip.
9 - West Kelowna Warriors (5-4-0-0): These kids are WARRIORS. While the off-ice atmosphere is cancerous at best, the boys simply play on and through it. The bus rolls back to Salmon Arm Friday before Victoria visits Sunday. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: A day off in between games will go a long way to helping the Warriors on Sunday, but will it be enough?
10 - Merritt Centennials (5-4-0-0): The Cents bounced back from the Vees loss with a solid 5-2 win at Vernon. The next four are all on the road starting with this weekend’s trip to Alberni Valley, Cowichan Valley, and Surrey. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: Merritt should sweep through this weekend’s slate even with the travel.
11t – Langley Rivermen (4-4-0-0): The Riv are back to square one (.500) after back-to-back disappointments against Coquitlam and Prince George. Langley visits Powell River and Cowichan Valley this week. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: Likely a couple of physical, hard-hitting battles await the Rivermen this weekend. Expect a renewed sense of purpose from Langley.
11t - Salmon Arm Silverbacks (4-4-0-0): The ‘Backs split the weekend home-and-home with West Kelowna and will face the Warriors for the third straight time on Friday. Victoria visits Saturday. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: The ‘Backs have a good bit of talent on their roster, and are flirting with putting it together in a way that will make them a solid threat every night.
13 - Vernon Vipers (3-3-2-0): The Vipers’ only win in the last five games was Friday’s 2-0 home shutout of Wenatchee. This week’s home-and-home with Penticton should tell a story. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: The Snakes are limping through this portion of the schedule but they’ll turn the corner, sooner more than later. Though it probably won’t be this weekend.
14 - Alberni Valley Bulldogs (3-6-0-0): The ‘Dogs salvaged a win at Surrey after dropping consecutive games at Trail and Penticton. Alberni Valley can return the favor when the Smoke Eaters visit on Friday. Merritt is in on Saturday. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: The Bulldogs are exactly who you think they are. They’ll struggle against the Interior teams this week.
15 – Cowichan Valley Capitals (1-5-1-1): The Caps have scored just three goals in their last three games and have dropped four in a row. The boys are off to Powell River tomorrow before hosting Merritt and Langley this weekend. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: Don’t let that stat fool you. The Caps work very hard and the goals will come. They may need to add a piece or two to make a move up the standings, but they’ll score their fair share.
16 – Nanaimo Clippers (2-7-0-0): The Clips have been sunk in four-straight games, something that has to be concerning to their great supporters. Trail visits Sunday. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: What happened to the Clippers? Right when it looked like they might be poised to make a run at a top two finish, they start sliding hard and fast. There’ll be a lot of orange in there on Sunday, wear your shades.
17 – Surrey Eagles (2-7-0-0): The Eagles picked up the second win of the season; a 3-2 shootout victory over top-ranked PG. That mid-week stinker at Coquitlam must have provided a nice wake-up call. Surrey goes back to Coquitlam again this week before hosting the Express and Cents this weekend. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: It’s hard to fathom why the Eagles have so much trouble. They have some VERY good players and strong veterans. PG made the mistake of taking them lightly.