Now that the British Columbia Hockey League season is underway it’s time to bring back the weekly BCHL feature.
In the last few years we’ve added a letter grade to such rankings and created a bit of discontent for doing that. As a result, that practice is being discontinued.
We are moving to a pure mathematical ranking system based entirely on the team’s winning percentage before going to goal differential in the event of ties. Yes, sometimes simple is best.
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 (4-0-0-0): It’s very well established that PG plays well at home, so getting home sweeps on back-to-back weekends is not that big of a surprise. Let’s see what happens with the next five matchups all being played on the road. The Spruce Kings get West Kelowna and Penticton this weekend in Chilliwack. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: The defending Coastal Conference Champs are enjoying the home cooking so far.
2 – Powell River Kings (2-0-0-0): Like PG, it’s never too much fun for opponents going into Hap Parker Arena to face the Kings. Powell River drew Coquitlam and Trail for this weekend’s event Chilliwack. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: This team would prefer to let their play on the ice do the talking, and that’s working out pretty well so far.
3 – Trail Smoke Eaters (3-0-1-0): After dropping the season opener in overtime to West Kelowna (what?), Trail has picked up the Ws in each of the next three games. Trail faces Langley and Powell River this week at the showcase in Chilliwack. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: Good things are happening in Trail, on and off the ice.
4 – Wenatchee Wild (3-1-0-0): The Wild are four games into an eleven stretch of road games to start the season. I’m thinking that the boss would be ecstatic if the boys managed to maintain that 75% road winning percentage for the season. Let’s get back to reality, shall we? The Wild face Alberni Valley and the host Chilliwack Chiefs this weekend at Prospera Centre. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: This team is showing they can score, but can they score enough to keep the Cup in the States?
5 – Victoria Grizzlies (2-1-0-0): The Grizz are off to a respectful start to the new season. Hey, I don’t care what anybody says, beating the Vees is always going to be sweet, regardless of when and where it happens. Victoria faces Merritt and Salmon Arm at this weekend’s showcase. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: The Grizz are shouting from the mountain tops, but now they have to back it up.
6 – Chilliwack Chiefs (3-2-0-0): The Chiefs looked a whole lot better at home than they did up in PG. That’s going to happen from time to time. The boys did look much better in this past weekend’s games against Langley and Surrey, picking up wins in each. Chilliwack faces Cowichan Valley and Wenatchee this weekend. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: A little slow out of the gate, but the Chiefs are starting to gain some confidence.
7 – Merritt Centennials (3-2-0-0): The Cents have wins in three of the first five games with an outburst of offense. The problem comes from the other side of the spectrum where the team has given up a ton of goals as well. Merritt draws Victoria and Langley for this weekend’s showcase. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: Loaded with returners, the Cents could do some damage this season.
8T - Langley Rivermen (2-2-0-0): The Rivermen started the season off with a bang (home wins over the Vees and Express) before dropping both ends of a home-and-home set with Chilliwack. Those things are going to happen. This weekend’s games at the showcase are against Trail and Merritt; two games that could likely set the tone for the season. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: Expect the season to continue as it started, inconsistent but good in spurts.
8T – Vernon Vipers (2-2-0-0): The Vipers are still getting their team tuned-in and will be looking to make a big statement this weekend in Chilliwack. Vernon faces Nanaimo and Surrey. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: Likely not as dominant as last year, but still a tough out.
10 - Alberni Valley Bulldogs (2-2-0-0): The Bulldogs have lit the lamp just six times in their first four games yet have managed to pick up wins in two of those contests. After popping three goals in the opening night road win at Cowichan Valley, the Bulldogs have three in the trio of games since. Facing Wenatchee in the first game of the showcase won’t make things any easier. Alberni Valley gets Salmon Arm on Saturday. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: These ARE your father's Bulldogs, and will give you an honest effort every night.
11 – Cowichan Valley Capitals (1-2-0-1): The Caps picked up their first win of the season with Saturday night’s 4-0 shutout at Alberni Valley. Cowichan Valley faces Penticton and Coquitlam this weekend in Chilliwack. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: This is already a better team than last year, but in this division, it’s a three team scramble for two spots.
12 – Nanaimo Clippers (1-2-0-0): I don’t anticipate seeing the Clippers spending too much time this far down the rankings list. This is way too strong of a hockey team for the trend to continue. Look for Nanaimo to get things back on track this weekend in Chilliwack. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: Anything over a third place finish would have to be considered pretty good for the Clips.
13 – Penticton Vees (1-2-0-0): Yea right. The Vees go 1-2 on the road in the first three games of the season before the showcase. I’m not going to sit here and suggest that Head Coach Fred Harbinson is trying to do his best impression of Paul Newman’s role in the Hustler, but don’t bet on the Vees being anything less than themselves this season. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: Too early to panic? Probably.
14 – Salmon Arm Silverbacks (1-2-0-0): There have been a lot of changes for the Silverbacks in the last several months. The pressure is on this staff to prove that those moves were for the better. Salmon Arm gets Victoria and Alberni Valley in the showcase. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: It’s a tough division, and the ‘Backs are swimming upstream.
15 – Coquitlam Express (1-3-0-0): After picking up a win at Surrey on opening night, the Express have dropped three straight games. Having to face Powell River and Cowichan Valley this weekend in Chilliwack could prove to be painful. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: This is the best 1-3-0 team in the league. Watch for them to steady the train and barrel into unsuspecting opponents.
16 – West Kelowna Warriors (1-3-0-0): Frankly I was shocked by the Warriors opening night road win at Trail, so the fact that the Warriors were beaten in the next three was kind of expected. That’s going to happen when the team’s pre-season festivities played out like a Mexican Telenovela. Look for the streak to continue this week in Chilliwack. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: There’s not enough Old Spice in the cabinet to mask this hot mess, but the players grind as hard as anyone.
17 – Surrey Eagles (0-4-0-0): The Eagles have given up 22 goals in their first four games of the season. Do I need to say anything else? How does facing the Vees and Vernon in Chilliwack sound to you? This season could get ugly in a hurry if something does not change. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: Stability. Some teams have it. Some don’t.