Prince George has knocked the Chilliwack Chiefs off the top of our British Columbia Hockey League rankings this week. We’ll talk about that and more in today’s BCHL Report.
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Now for the disclosure… the following is my opinion and not written under the influence of anything or anybody.
1 – Prince George Spruce Kings (19-7-1-2): PG picked up a nice split at Chilliwack last week that propelled the Spruce Kings to the top of our heap. Merritt at Langley visit this week. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: The Spruce Kings have known they were this good all along, and the stats are proving it. Playing at home this week should help them strengthen their position even more.
2 – Chilliwack Chiefs (21-9-0-0): The Chiefs got leapfrogged by PG and find themselves at #2. Chilliwack is at Surrey Friday night. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: The Chiefs will tell you they don’t care about these rankings, but they do. With a potential feast of Eagles this weekend, expect an onslaught from a focused and ready Chilliwack squad.
3 – Victoria Grizzlies (19-8-0-1): The Grizz have wins in eight of the last nine games and look to be on track for an incredible season. Victoria is at Cowichan Valley tomorrow before Coquitlam and West K visits this weekend. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: If the Grizzlies can stay focused and not fall victim to believing their own hype, they should easily cruise to a division title. They face three hungry hockey teams this week, and that’s a tall order for any club.
3 – Penticton Vees (18-7-1-2): The Vees are back. Penticton took care of business in all three games over the weekend and will bring a five-game win streak to Wenatchee tomorrow night. The Vees and Trail have a home-and-home set planned for the weekend. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: It’s hard to imagine Penticton flying under the radar but that’s exactly what they’ve done so far this year. They will continue to improve, which is bad news for the rest of the Interior.
5 – Merritt Centennials (18-9-1-1): The Cents lost at Trail Friday before beating Salmon Arm Saturday. Both games went into overtime. Merritt is at PG tomorrow before going to Vernon Friday before Salmon Arm coming in Saturday. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: Merritt is an interesting story but they have built a solid contender and their opponents have been finding that out first hand. They’re good for at least 4 points this week.
6 - Wenatchee Wild (16-10-2-0): The Wild took care of business at home against West K; that’s what great teams are supposed to do. The Vees visit tomorrow before Wenatchee goes to Salmon Arm and Vernon this weekend. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: The Wild might not have come out of the gates hot but they seem to be gathering steam, somewhat like Penticton has done this year which makes this week's Wild vs Vees game an interesting matchup.
7 - Salmon Arm Silverbacks (14-10-1-0): The ‘Backs are having some success, and that’s the good news. Good teams are fine with picking up a trio of points in two road games. Salmon Arm hosts Langley (Wednesday) and Wenatchee (Friday) before going to Merritt Saturday. INSIDER SAYS: The ‘Backs just keep plugging along, finding ways to win games. That’s the kind of opponent you fear come playoff time.
8 – Coquitlam Express (15-11-1-0): The Express have dropped five in a row, there’s no other way to get around that fact. They HAVE to get a positive result from the three-game roadie this weekend and put an end to the nonsense. The trip includes stops at Victoria, Nanaimo, and Alberni Valley. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: Was the red-hot start for the Express just a fluke? Not if you ask the team. They just got knocked off the rails a bit but will recover. Good time for an Island swing.
9 – Powell River Kings (16-12-0-0): The Kings swept the home double with the Capitals and get Alberni Valley this week. INSIDER SAYS: Things have a bit of a challenge for the Kings lately, but they still managed to escape relatively unharmed. Kings need to regroup a little and refocus. They might be coming off a pair of wins, but the need to shore up remains.
10 - West Kelowna Warriors (15-12-0-1): The Warriors ran into a wall at Wenatchee, that’s over now. Langley visits tonight before the bus rolls to Nanaimo, Cowichan Valley, and Victoria this weekend. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: Four games is a lot of hockey in six days, under any circumstances. Playing them in four different cities adds to the burden. That last one on Sunday afternoon at Victoria could be a lot to ask.
11 - Langley Rivermen (13-12-1-0): The Riv looked good in the weekend win over Coquitlam and 2-1 loss at Chilliwack. Langley is at West K tonight before hitting Salmon Arm tomorrow. The weekend at top-ranked PG should tell us the rest of the story. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: Rough schedule to play two in a row BEFORE heading north to face a very good PG club. Bring lots of ibuprofen, it’s gonna be a long week.
12 - Vernon Vipers (10-9-6-3): The Vipers went 1-1 on the week and host Merritt and Wenatchee this weekend. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: The task for Vernon will be to get a lead and hold it, to avoid going to overtime or a shootout, where they’ve been terrible this season. Playing at home might help, but the Snakes will have to be sharp to stay above .500.
13 - Trail Smoke Eaters (11-13-4-2): Trail is that close to turning the corner. They could give the Vees fits this week. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: The Smoke Eaters have a lot of good individual pieces that can really be a threat when they operate cohesively. That’s been a challenge, though, and that’s why they’re two games below .500.
14 – Nanaimo Clippers (12-14-0-0): I’ll go ahead and say this now; the Clippers are a better hockey team than the sub .500 record indicates. It’s a good possibility that this group makes a splash in the playoffs. West K and Coquitlam visit the Crane this weekend. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: The Clips will get steamrolled if they aren’t on top of their game this weekend. West K and the Express are both salivating for a win and Nanaimo looks like a big juicy steak.
15 - Alberni Valley Bulldogs (9-18-1-0): The ‘Dogs will try and shake off the double loss weekend before visiting Powell River this week. Coquitlam visits Sunday. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: This team deserves a better fate. A good, honest, hard-working club that just ends up on the wrong end a lot. If they continue to bring the same consistent effort, it won’t take much to start stringing a couple of wins together.
16 – Cowichan Valley Capitals (6-17-4-1): The Caps are still fighting and have the talent to embarrass any opponent on the schedule. Victoria and West K visit this week. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: The Caps are good enough that when they rise up and defeat someone that “on paper” they shouldn’t, no one gets too surprised. They may not contend for the division, but their opponents always know they were in a battle.
17 – Surrey Eagles (7-23-0-1): Going up against the Vees seldom works out for the league’s cellar dwellers. Chilliwack visits Friday. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: Two weeks ago Chilliwack bombed Surrey with a double digit beatdown, with the Chiefs scoring on their first three shots. More of the same, or is Surrey ready to serve up some payback? Wouldn’t bet on it.