The defending Royal Bank Champion Chilliwack Chiefs have climbed into the captain’s chair of this week’s British Columbia Hockey League rankings.
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1 – Chilliwack Chiefs (9-3-0-0): The Chiefs move to the top after a pair of big home wins over Coquitlam and Wenatchee. Chilliwack goes to Coquitlam Friday before hosting Surrey and Vernon Saturday and Sunday. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: The Chiefs are playing like a team looking to prove they deserve to be respected. They’ve won 9 of their last 10, so it’s hard to argue.
2 – Prince George Spruce Kings (7-3-0-1): PG is always tough to beat at home and this past weekend was no exception. Powell River and Salmon Arm visit this week. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: If they can stay healthy, PG has a good shot at repeating as Mainland Champs.
3 – Victoria Grizzlies (8-4-0-0): The Grizz picked up wins in two of three road games last week. This week’s home-and-home battle with Alberni Valley should produce a positive result. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: Victoria talked themselves up pretty good, now the challenge is to back it up. They’re good, but they should be reasonable in their view of themselves.
4 – Coquitlam Express (8-5-0-0): The Express had a rough week, dropping the first two against Surrey and Chilliwack before getting the road win at Surrey Saturday. The next four games are all at home starting with the Chiefs and Clippers visiting this week. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: Just a bump in the road. The Express have the tools to win some games, and they’ll get it turned around soon.
5 – Powell River Kings (6-4-0-0): Home was not so sweet for the Kings last week as the good guys were taken down in two of the three home games. This week Powell River is running the bus up to PG for a Thursday night meeting with the Spruce Kings. They get a day off before visiting Trail Saturday. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: Might be some PTSD for the returning Kings from last years playoff series with PG, but maybe the wake-up call this past weekend can propel them past a couple of tough opponents on the road.
6 - Langley Rivermen (6-4-0-0): The Riverman are undefeated in the month of October after a pair of big road wins at Powell River and Cowichan Valley. Eight of the next ten games are all at cozy George Preston Arena giving Langley the perfect opportunity to make some serious noise. The Eagles and Wild are in this weekend. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: Langley will have to make the most of their home games because Chilliwack and PG aren’t slowing down any time soon.
7 - Trail Smoke Eaters (5-3-2-1): The Smokies were beaten in two of three road games this past weekend. That’s the bad news. The Good? Five of the next seven games will be played at home. Cowichan Valley and Powell River visit this week. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: Trail has been hot and cold but the hot should be prevalent this weekend as the Smokies feast on Island Division fare.
8 – Merritt Centennials (7-5-0-0): The Cents were winners in two of three road games last week; a very respectable accomplishment. Merritt is at Penticton tomorrow night before facing West Kelowna and Cowichan Valley visit this weekend. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: Merritt might be the sleeper pick to make the biggest gains this season. Can they finish top three? Possibly.
9 – Penticton Vees (5-4-0-0): The Vees split last week’s home-and-home set with Vernon in a pair of games where the home side managed to win both games. Merritt visits tomorrow before the Vees are in Salmon Arm Saturday. Cowichan Valley visits the South Okanagan Events Centre on Saturday. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: The Vees are in buying mode as they look to make sure the early season rough patch doesn’t become insurmountable. Never afraid to deal, watch for another move or two soon.
10 - Salmon Arm Silverbacks (5-4-1-0): The ‘Backs split their weekend home set against West Kelowna (5-2 loss and Victoria (3-2 win). The mighty Vees of Penticton visit Friday before Salmon Arm hits the road to PG for Saturday night. INSIDER SAYS: The ‘Backs quietly go about their business but this is a huge weekend of opportunity to make a statement.
11 - West Kelowna Warriors (6-5-0-0): The fact that the Warriors are above .500 is completely due to the caliber of player the team has on the ice. West K picked up a big home win over Victoria Friday. The Warriors hit Merritt Friday before Nanaimo is in on Friday. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: No one figured West Kelowna to be cohesive coming into the season. Veteran leadership has made all the difference.
12 - Vernon Vipers (4-4-2-0): The Vipers split the weekend set with Penticton; proving to themselves they are once again among the elite of the BCHL. The snakes face Surrey and Chilliwack this week. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: Here’s the problem. It’s going to be way too easy to start looking past Surrey and thinking about Chilliwack. That would be a huge mistake.
13 - Wenatchee Wild (5-6-0-0): The bad news? The Wild are a game under .500 eleven games into the season. The good? Nine of the next ten games are all at home. The Clippers visit Friday before Wenatchee goes to Langley for Saturday. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: Unfamiliar territory for Bliss Littler and his crew but if history is any indication, the Wild will be right in the thick of it before long.
14 - Alberni Valley Bulldogs (4-7-0-0): The ‘Dogs impressively split the weekend home set against Merritt (4-3 loss) and Trail (4-3 win). This week’s home-and-home with third-ranked Victoria could produce a surprise or two. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: Releasing the captain a month after anointing him with the “C” means there’s trouble afoot in Port Alberni. Yet, you never know how player moves will affect a team.
15 – Nanaimo Clippers (3-7-0-0): The Clippers were focused on success last week and put a ton of effort into their 4-3 home win over Trail. This week’s roadie to Wenatchee, West K, and Coquitlam could be dangerous. That win over Trail proved to all that this group CAN be competitive with the league’s upper tier clubs…the question remains, will they? We’ll see this week. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: It’s gonna be a rough haul for the Clips. Wenatchee’s first home game of the year, and a lot of road miles add up to hard week.
16 – Cowichan Valley Capitals (2-7-1-1): The Caps are in a bit of a rut, that’s clear to see. Can they drive their way out? The bus rolls to Trail, Penticton, and Merritt this week. That can be a dangerous trip for any team. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: If the Caps win a single game on this trip, call it a success.
17 – Surrey Eagles (3-9-0-0): The Eagles are running out of excuses and starting to play games with the players. That’s never going to work out well. Veteran players are already talking about other opportunities and that’s never a good sign. Surrey goes to Vernon, Langley, and Chilliwack this week. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: Just like Cowichan Valley, if the Eagles win a single game on this trip, rack it up as a successful trip because it’s not looking good for the South Surrey boys.