The Chilliwack Chiefs hold on to the top spot of this week’s British Columbia Hockey League rankings.
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1 – Chilliwack Chiefs (11-4-0-0): Chiefs hold onto the top spot after winning two of three games over the weekend. That 5-1 loss at Coquitlam should have been a wakeup call. Just getting past Surrey was interesting. Chiefs are at West K tonight before hitting Trail and Penticton this weekend. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: The Chiefs struggle won’t be skill, it’s be mental toughness. This week will be another strong test, one they will have to work hard to pass.
2 – Coquitlam Express (10-5-0-0): The Express climb two spots after the big home wins against Chilliwack and Nanaimo. PG visits twice this week. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: Just like their logo, this Express train is starting to gather steam. That means PG will have their hands full this week.
3 – Prince George Spruce Kings (8-4-0-1): PG was taken down a notch by Powell River before shutting out Salmon Arm in two games at Rolling Mix Concrete Arena. The bus rolls south this week for a pair of games at #2 Coquitlam sandwiched around a quick stop in Langley. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: Unless PG wants to end the season in a dogfight to get home ice, they’d best be sharp this weekend. These head to head games with Coquitlam will matter.
4 - Trail Smoke Eaters (7-3-2-1): The Smokies picked up the W in both games at home last week. Trail visits Vernon tomorrow night before hosting Chilliwack and West K this weekend. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: A good team with young talent that will continue to get stronger. They played for a Conference championship last season, and are looking to take the next step.
5 – Victoria Grizzlies (9-5-0-0): The Grizz split the weekend home-and-home set with Alberni Valley in a series that had the home team losing both games. Victoria goes to Nanaimo tomorrow before hosting Powell River and Surrey at the Q this weekend. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: The video of the Alberni Valley win at the Q Centre will get a lot of eyeballs from Island Division coaches. Victoria is beatable, but they do have enough talent to outplay their own weaknesses at times.
6 – Penticton Vees (7-4-0-1): The Vees continue their climb up the ladder after picking up wins in two of three games last week. Penticton goes to West K Friday before hosting top ranked Chilliwack Saturday. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: It’s been a couple of years since they met in the Finals but Penticton vs Chilliwack is a big time matchup. That game will provide an emotional lift for the winner.
7 – Merritt Centennials (9-6-0-0): The Cents were rocked at Penticton last week before doing some blasting of their own with two big home wins over West K (8-4) and Cowichan Valley (9-1). Salmon Arm visits Nicola Valley tomorrow before the Cents go to Wenatchee for a pair this weekend. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: The Cents are inconsistent but when they’re on fire, they’re fun to watch. Don’t read too much into the big goal outburst.
8 – Powell River Kings (7-5-0-0): The Kings picked up a big win up in PG before getting edged at Trail. The road swing continues this week with stops at Cowichan Valley, Victoria, and Nanaimo. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: Still on the road, but in more familiar surroundings, watch for the Kings to have a big week, and possibly even get a POW this week.
9 - Langley Rivermen (7-5-0-0): The Riverman fall three spots after splitting the weekend home pair against Surrey (5-0 win) and Wenatchee (3-0 loss). PG and Alberni Valley visit the George Preston Arena this week. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: The very definition of hot and cold. That’s the kind of thing that will keep them hovering around the .500 mark all year.
10 - Salmon Arm Silverbacks (6-5-1-0): The ‘Backs picked up a huge emotional shootout win over Penticton Friday night at home before having to make the trek up to PG for Saturday night. Simply said, that did not go well. The trip to Merritt tomorrow night will be shorter but certainly not any easier. Alberni Valley and Vernon visit the Shaw Centre this week. INSIDER SAYS: Salmon Arm is content to just quietly go about their business and be ready to do some damage when it matters. Teams should keep a wary eye on them.
11 - Wenatchee Wild (6-6-1-0): Let’s face it; the Clippers kind of embarrassed the Wild in the home opening overtime loss. Wenatchee outshot the Clippers 50:24 but simply were not able to convert on their opportunities. Getting the shutout win at Langley showed us that the Wild may now be a little more comfortable on the road. That better change quickly with nine of the next ten games all at home. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: It’s becoming predictable, the Wild will outshoot everyone but for some reason, find ways to lose games. That will change at some point, and a big run of home games might be the answer.
12 - West Kelowna Warriors (6-6-0-1): The Warriors were clobbered 8-4 at Merritt before picking up a mercy point at home in the shootout loss to Nanaimo. Chilliwack visits tonight before the Vees come in Friday. West K goes to Trail for Saturday. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: The Warriors will definitely be fighting an uphill battle this weekend. They’ve got a lot of energy but this weekend will wear them out.
13 - Vernon Vipers (4-5-3-0): The Vipers managed to get beat twice last week. In Wednesday’s game at home, Vernon allowed Surrey to score three times in the third period before giving up the game winner in overtime. Sunday’s matchup at Chilliwack was almost worse as the Vipers took a 2-1 lead into the third period before allowing a pair of Chief goals in the loss. Trail and Alberni Valley visit Kal Tire Place this week before the snakes visit Salmon Arm Sunday. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: The overtime losses are what really sting in ViperLand right now. The push will be to learn how to put games away when they are in a position to do so.
14 - Alberni Valley Bulldogs (4-7-0-0): The ‘Dogs picked up a big win at #5 Victoria before falling to the Grizz in OT at home. Both were excellent results and additional proof that this is not a team to overlook this season. The bus goes to Salmon Arm, Vernon, and Langley this week. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: The Bulldogs continue to prove that every team in this league is dangerous if you give them room to breathe. This weekend’s trip offers opportunity, but they’ll have to work for it.
15 – Nanaimo Clippers (5-8-0-0): The Clippers shocked the 3,000+ fans in Wenatchee with their overtime win before getting a shootout win at West K. The luck ran out at Coquitlam. Victoria, Surrey, and Powell River all visit the Frank Crane Arena this week. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: Did they win those games or did their opponents lose them? That may be a topic for hot discussion, but don’t expect this team to threaten anyone for supremacy.
16 – Surrey Eagles (4-11-0-0): The Eagles went 1-3 in a week full of surprises and disappointments. The surprise was the 6-5 overtime win at Vernon. The shutout loss at Langley was certainly disappointing but giving the lead, and game, away in the third at Chilliwack was even worse. The Eagles soar to the island this week to face Nanaimo, Cowichan Valley, and Victoria. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: The Eagles are struggling to find an identity. They have spots of great skill, but need to find a common sense of purpose or they will continue to fall.
17 – Cowichan Valley Capitals (2-10-1-1): The Caps fall to the basement after a trio of losses last week. The Caps put out a great effort in the 6-4 loss at Trail before getting cooked at Penticton (4-1 loss) and Merritt (9-1 loss). Losers in four straight, look for the Caps to get it right this weekend with Powell River and Surrey visiting Island Savings Centre this week. BCHL INSIDER SAYS: Eight games below .500 already, the Caps really need to approach things one period at a time, and see if they can start stringing a few together. The natives in Duncan are growing restless.