The Chilliwack Chiefs are still #1 in our British Columbia Hockey League rankings. #2 Prince George visits Chilliwack this week with every intention of knocking the Chiefs off the top of the heap.
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Now for the disclosure… the following is my opinion and not written under the influence of anything or anybody.
1 – Chilliwack Chiefs (19-8-0-0): The Chiefs managed to do a nice little number at Powell River Saturday night before getting ripped 4-1 at #15 Alberni Valley. Langley visits tomorrow before #2 PG comes to town intent at leapfrogging Chilliwack. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: The loss to AV serves as a reminder of how close teams really are in this league. Any team can truly beat any other when one is unprepared. Probably won’t happen often, though.
2 – Prince George Spruce Kings (17-7-1-1): PG picked up wins in two of three games at Powell River (3-0 W), Alberni Valley (2-1 W), and Nanaimo (3-2 OTL) last week. Trail visits tomorrow before Spruce Kings roll south to battle top-ranked Chilliwack Friday and Saturday. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: PG needs to be sure they aren’t so worried about Chilliwack that they overlook Trail. Could be a Mainland Division Final preview.
3 – Victoria Grizzlies (17-8-0-1): The Grizz had three tough games this weekend going to Coquitlam (6-3 W), Penticton (4-1 L), and Vernon (6-5 SH W). Victoria is at suddenly confident Alberni Valley Friday before hosting the Clippers Saturday. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: The Grizzlies will be happy to get back to the Island where they can feast on division foes. This past week gave them a good taste of how tough the rest of the league is.
4 – Penticton Vees (15-7-1-2): Penticton lost at West K (3-1) before beating the Warriors (7-4) and Victoria (4-1) at home. The Eagles visit tomorrow before the Vees head to Coquitlam and Surrey Friday and Saturday. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: The Vees have begun to gel and look to be ramping up for a good midseason push. Watch as a few Vees players pad their stats this week.
5 – Merritt Centennials (17-9-0-1): The Cents lost to Wenatchee (3-2) at home before getting past Salmon Arm (3-2) and Trail (4-2). Merritt is at Trail Friday before hosting Salmon Arm on Saturday. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: Merritt continues to win far more than they lose, and will probably continue as long as they stay healthy.
6 – Coquitlam Express (15-9-1-0): The Express fall out of the Top Five after losing their second and third game in a row this past week. The pair of losses, to Victoria and Surrey, are starting to cast doubt on this group. Coquitlam is at Langley tonight before hosting Penticton Friday. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: Losing to Surrey is cause for concern, but it’s too early to give up hope. 15 wins aren’t a fluke. Feels like this weekend will be a split.
7 - West Kelowna Warriors (15-10-0-1): The Warriors split the home-and-home set with the Vees before getting doubled by Vernon (6-3) at home. West K is at Wenatchee Friday and Saturday. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: The split with Vees left them drained and didn’t have enough in the tank for Vernon. Could be a tough weekend down south.
8 - Wenatchee Wild (14-10-2-0): The Wild jump up another spot after picking up valuable wins in two of three road games last week. Look for a great weekend of hockey Friday and Saturday when West K visits Town Toyota Center. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: The Wild love playing at home and have a pretty good November record. Everyone is looking for an edge in the Interior, this weekend gives Wenatchee (or West K) a chance to gain real ground.
9 - Salmon Arm Silverbacks (13-10-1-0): Salmon Arm has one win in their last four games after losing to Merritt (3-2) and Wenatchee (7-1) at home. The Silverbacks visit Vernon and Merritt this week to try and rectify the situation. INSIDER SAYS: The Shaw Centre has been nearly impossible for visitors this season until last weekend. It’s the home wins that have kept the ‘Backs in the mix. Time to learn to win on the road.
10 - Langley Rivermen (12-11-1-0): The Riverman are up and over the .500 mark with a pair of wins over Surrey. Backsliding Coquitlam visits tonight before the Riv visit top-ranked Chilliwack tomorrow. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: This Rivermen team will hover around .500 all year. Probably never more than 3 games above, or below. Sounds about right for a team that’s not great, but also not bad.
11 – Powell River Kings (13-12-0-0): The Kings fall out of the Top-Ten after losing their third and fourth straight games. Alberni Valley visits tonight before facing Cowichan Valley Friday and Saturday at the Hap Parker Arena. INSIDER SAYS: The Kings are tinkering with their chemistry as they try to find the magic combination to keep pace with Victoria. They look like they might be able to catch their breath this weekend against a couple of sub-.500 clubs.
12 - Vernon Vipers (9-8-6-3): The Vipers stay above .500 after going 1-1-0-1 in three games last week. Salmon Arm and Trail visit Kal Tire Place this week. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: No one expects the Vipers to struggle for long, so watch for them to have a good showing at home this week as they try to prove they belong among the contenders in the league.
13 - Trail Smoke Eaters (10-11-4-2): The Smokies picked up home wins over Vernon and Wenatchee before losing at Merritt Saturday. Still a game under .500 going into tomorrow’s trek to PG, look for Trail to try to get over the top with weekend games against Merritt and Vernon. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: This will likely be a very tough week for the Smokies, but maybe some new blood in the lineup can help.
14 – Nanaimo Clippers (11-13-0-0): Here come the Clippers! Winners of four straight, Nanaimo is within a pair of games or ground zero again (.500). The ship visits Cowichan Valley and Victoria this week. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: When half of your games are against teams with losing records, it’s easy to string a few wins together. Fun for the Clippers fans, but the rest of the league sees it for what it is.
15 - Alberni Valley Bulldogs (9-16-1-0): Alberni Valley was only able to score a pair of goals in two losses (vs Cowichan Valley 4-1 and PG 2-1) before knocking off top-ranked Chilliwack 4-1 to close the week. The boys are in Powell River tonight before hosting Victoria Friday. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: The ‘Dogs took advantage of a road weary Chilliwack team, but won’t have that luxury this week. Anything they get this week, they’ll have to earn.
16 – Cowichan Valley Capitals (6-16-2-1): The Caps split the roadie to Alberni Valley (4-1 W) and Nanaimo (3-2 L) and face the Clippers tonight at home before going to Powell River Friday and Saturday. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: The Caps are just good enough to steal a win every now and then. This week, probably not much to look forward to.
17 – Surrey Eagles (7-21-0-1): The Eagles lost both sides of the home-and-home set with Langley before the shocking 6-2 win at Coquitlam Sunday. Surrey visits Penticton tomorrow before hosting the Vees Saturday. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: Surrey gets credit for not folding up shop. They are looking to shape their roster in a way that allows them to compete, but it might be too little, too late.