The annual British Columbia Hockey League Showcase at Chilliwack was a roaring success filled with a few surprise results on the ice. The Showcase generally sets the tone for the rest of the season. With that said, I’m still having a hard time seeing the Vees hanging out near the bottom of this pool for very long.
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 (5-1-0-0): PG bounced back from their first loss of the season (4-0 vs West Kelowna) with a rock-solid defeat of the Vees. That’s always going to put a smile on faces of the folks back home. The bus rolls to Surrey, Langley, and Coquitlam this week. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: Lots of returners on this club means they’ll be a handful most nights. They should really start getting some separation in the standings this week.
2 – Powell River Kings (4-1-0-0): The Kings went 1-1 at the showcase. The 2-1 win over Trail made the weekend a success. Powell River visits Victoria and Nanaimo this week. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: This team finds ways to win games. Expect them to get stronger as the weeks roll on.
3 – Chilliwack Chiefs (5-2-0-0): There’s nothing like getting big events into the home barn. The Chiefs took advantage of that pleasure with two solid wins over Cowichan Valley and Wenatchee. The Chiefs are on the road this weekend at Nanaimo, Cowichan Valley, and Victoria. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: After stumbling out of the gate, suddenly the Chiefs have some life. Still, it could be a long weekend on the island.
4 – Wenatchee Wild (4-2-0-0): I get it, teams can’t win them all and it’s not often that the Wild are going to be shut down. For it to happen at the showcase (2-0 loss to the host Chiefs) is just water under the bridge. Look for Bliss Littler and his staff to quickly make some needed adjustments before this week’s trip that takes the Wild to West Kelowna, Vernon, and Trail. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: The Wild outskate and outshoot everyone all the time, but still lose some games they should win.
5 - Langley Rivermen (2-2-0-0): Langley is all smiles after winning both games in Chilliwack. The boys head to Coquitlam for Friday night. PG visits Saturday. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: The Riv can tend to be an older team which means they have an early season advantage.
6 – Trail Smoke Eaters (3-2-1-0): The Smoke Eaters scored only two goals at the showcase and will be working on that issue in practice all week. Look for the lamp to get plenty of action this weekend with visits from Alberni Valley and Wenatchee. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: Trail will snap out of it soon enough, starting this weekend.
7 - Coquitlam Express (4-3-0-0): The Express took both games at Prospera Centre before getting a home win on Sunday. I’m excited to see this team come to life because it gives hope to all the smaller market clubs in the CJHL. Surrey, Langley and PG all visit this week. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: From riches to rags and back to riches again. Brimming with well-deserved confidence.
8 – Merritt Centennials (4-3-0-0): The Cents split their games at the showcase yet remain a game over .500. The Vees visit Friday before heading to Vernon on Saturday, BCHL INSIDER SAYS: This is a team that has the misfortune of being in what some consider the toughest division in the CJHL. No surprise to see the Cents off to a solid start.
9 – Victoria Grizzlies (3-3-0-0): The Grizz lost both games at Chilliwack before picking up a big home win over the Clippers Sunday. Victoria visits Cowichan Valley this week before hosting Powell River and Chilliwack later this week. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: Hockey is a team game. If the Grizz learn to play as a team, they’ll be dangerous.
10 - West Kelowna Warriors (3-3-0-0): The on-ice Warriors came together over the weekend with two solid wins in Chilliwack. That’s a serious result considering all the off-ice issues this team is having to work through. Wenatchee visits tomorrow before the home-and-home set with Salmon Arm this weekend. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: Controversy and trouble can bring a team closer together, and that may be what we’re seeing in West K. The problem is, by its very nature, it doesn’t last.
11 - Salmon Arm Silverbacks (3-3-0-0): The Silverbacks picked up two wins at the showcase before getting beat at Coquitlam Sunday. The next three games are all with West Kelowna. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: One of the bigger early surprises of the season, the ‘Backs will get a steady dose of West Kelowna and we’ll see who comes out on top.
12 – Vernon Vipers (2-2-2-0): The Vipers impressively dropped two overtime games at the showcase. The Wild and Merritt visit this week. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: Vernon learned what happens when you let any team hang around. For Vernon to win a game this week, they’ll have to attack early and often.
13 – Penticton Vees (2-3-0-0): If anybody really thinks that the Vees will be hanging out here in the double-digit area for very long should seek the care of a physician. The Vees visit Merritt Friday before Alberni Valley visits Saturday. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: The Vees will soon figure out that being a Vee isn’t enough, you have to earn what you get in the BCHL. And once they do, look out.
14 – Cowichan Valley Capitals (1-3-1-1): The Caps are much better than their record indicates. Just ask Victoria and Chilliwack after this weekend. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: The Capitals have a fighting chance to make it to the postseason this year, but it might take one or two roster moves to get them over the hump.
15 - Alberni Valley Bulldogs (2-4-0-0): After wins in the first two games, the Bulldogs have scored just three goals in four games that were not even close. That’s a bad sign especially considering this week’s roadie starts with Trail and Penticton before concluding at Surrey. Hey, there’s always Surrey. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: The Bulldogs are running into some hungry teams this week, so there will be no easy looks.
16 – Nanaimo Clippers (2-5-0-0): I did not see this coming. The Clippers are a proud club that won’t tolerate losing at this rate. Chilliwack and Powell River visit this week and that can make matters much worse. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: Like the Capitals, Nanaimo is better than their record indicates. This weekend is a huge chance to make a statement.
17 – Surrey Eagles (1-5-0-0): Getting the win over Vernon was a nice trick. Was it the Stanley Cup final? Obviously not. It was a positive for a team in desperate need of some good news. The Eagles are at Coquitlam tomorrow before hosting PB and Alberni Valley this weekend. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: What makes things even tougher for the Eagles is the lofty expectations they carried into this season.