Welcome to the Feb. 7, 2018 edition of BCHL Today, a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.
We start today in West Kelowna, where the Warriors blew the doors off the Surrey Eagles in a Tuesday night BCHL matchup.
West K got two goals from Ryan Steele in an 8-2 win at Royal LePage Place. Max Bulawka, Jordan Todd, Chase Dubois, Chase Stevenson, Michael Lombardi and Parm Dhaliwal also scored for the Warriors, who out-shot Surrey 42-24.
West K improved to 25-24-1-1 and put a little more space between them and Salmon Arm in the Interior division standings. The fifth place Warriors are now four up on the sixth place Silverbacks, who do hold one game in hand.
This defeat was potentially huge for the Eagles, who’ve suddenly lost four straight in rather ugly fashion. Surrey’s been out-scored 25-9 in losses to Trail (7-4), Salmon Arm (4-3 in OT), Coquitlam (6-0) and West Kelowna (8-2).
The Eagles, second in the Mainland division with a record of 24-19-5-2, blew a chance to put space between themselves and the teams trailing them. Langley is one point back. Chilliwack is five behind, but the Chiefs hold two games in hand and get Surrey in two head-to-head matchups down the stretch. With all three teams struggling to string together wins, there’s no telling who will finish where, but as I mentioned yesterday, fourth place is the spot to avoid.
It’s a surprisingly busy Wednesday night, with five BCHL games on tap.
The most impactful matchup has the Nanaimo Clippers (25-20-3-3) in Alberni Valley to face the Bulldogs (15-27-4-4). The Clips are third in the Island division, but they’re just two points back of the second place Powell River Kings and just three back of the first place Grizz.
Nanaimo doesn’t face either of those teams in head-to-head action, but they have a soft schedule.
Their toughest remaining game is a homer against Wenatchee (33-13-3-1) Friday night. Beyond that, they get the lowly Cowichan Capitals (9-33-5-2) twice, the Interior division basement dwelling Merritt Centennials (19-24-4-1) once and a pair of meh Mainland division teams in the Chilliwack Chiefs (22-20-3-3) and Surrey Eagles (24-19-5-2).
The path is clear for the Clippers to make a run, and the best news of all is they’ve got one of their big guns back in the lineup. Nanaimo play-by-play man Dan Marshall sent a note about Jake Harris, who returned to action last Friday after missing 11 games with an injury. The 19 year old Toronto native still ranks second in team scoring with 18 goals and 41 points in 36 games.
Marshall added an interesting statistical note. Harris had an assist in his first game back and has at least one point in each home game he’s played this season. That’s great news for Nanaimo, which plays five of its last seven games at Frank Crane Arena.
The Trail Smoke Eaters (30-14-4-1) would be first place in either the Island or Mainland divisions, but because they play in the Interior they are fourth.
But they can still improve their playoff positioning, and that would start tonight with a win over Penticton (33-10-2-3). Trail hosts the Vees at the Cominco Arena, looking to cut into Penticton’s six point lead. The Smokies are within four points of the third place Vernon Vipers (32-13-1-4) and within five of the second place Wenatchee Wild (33-13-3-1).
The problem for Trail is the teams in front of them won’t stop winning.
The Smokies and Vees have played four times previously. Penticton has two wins, Trail has one and they played to a 2-2 draw in mid January. The Smoke Eaters have out-scored the Vees 9-8 in those games. The most recent meeting, on Jan. 20, was a 2-1 overtime triumph for the Vees, won on a Jonny Tychonick power play goal.
Here are highlights from that game.
Other games on the sched tonight have the Chilliwack Chiefs in Vernon, the Salmon Arm Silverbacks in Coquitlam and the Victoria Grizzlies visiting the Cowichan Caps.
The Alberni Valley Bulldogs will wear a third jersey for three upcoming home games, before auctioning them off.
They look fairly simple, black with a red and gold Bulldog bar across the chest (see the little pic).
The Dawgs will wear these jerseys for games on Feb. 10, 17 and 18.
An online action will start Feb. 10 at albernivalleybulldogs.ca and continue until 10 p.m. on the 17th. Starting bids will be $100 with increasing increments of $10, with all proceeds from the auction going back to the non-profit team.
I’ve dealt with Chilliwack Chiefs head coach/general manager Jason Tatarnic for a few years now, and I’m always amazed at how many contacts he has.
One of those contacts led to a pretty cool experience for local female hockey players yesterday.
Tatarnic heard that Delaney Collins, the head coach of Hockey Canada’s U-18 Womens’ National Team, was going to be in the neighborhood. Both are alumnus of the famed Notre Dame Hounds program in Wilcox, Saskatchewan.
So too is Chiefs assistant coach Brian Maloney.
Tatarnic reached out to Collins and arranged for her to come out Tuesday afternoon and conduct an on-ice workout at Prospera Centre for all of Chilliwack Minor Hockey’s female hockey players. Collins was great. As a player, the Manitoba native was a three-time world champion with Canada’s national womens’ hockey squad, and she wore her Team Canada jersey to the practice.
Delaney was energetic and interactive and it was a great experience for all of the young girls.
Eric Welsh is the sports editor at the Chilliwack Progress and has been covering junior A hockey in B.C. and Alberta since 2003.