The first weekend of BCHL action sure wasn’t without its share of excitement. Barnburners, fights, and a highlight reel goal that has already captured the attention of national media. Some contests were very impressive with mid-season form shown by both sides while others had the expected rust factor (e.g. Surrey VS Coquitlam). Let’s take a look scattershoot style:
-After posting a league low 7 wins last season it looked as if the Surrey Eagles just might secure a victory in their home opener Friday night in front of a host of high profile alumni including recently retired NHL’er Scott Gomez. The Eagles had a 4-2 lead after 1 only to allow 5 goals in the 2nd and another 2 in the third falling 8-7 to the visiting Express. Suffice to say defence was at a premium with 15 goals scored on a combined 72 shots meaning nearly one out of every four shots found the back of the net. That’s a “wow”. So we learned the Eagles can score but take a look at the opponent as well since the Express followed up their win with an 8-1 loss in Langley the next night. Coquitlam is lucky to be 1-1 after allowing 15 goals in just 2 games. Gomez might have been wondering if his memories of when he played in the league have warped over time!
-Oddly there is still one team left to open the regular season as the Wenatchee Wild play their first game Wednesday night in Prince George. Other than the Wild the Chiefs remain the only unbeaten team in the Mainland division with a 6-3 win over the Rivermen Friday night as Langley opened up a new era at George Preston arena. Six goals from six different scorers is a very good way to start the season if you’re Jason Tatarnic.
-Back to the Spruce Kings now who have yet to record their first win of the season after earning a single point in a 2-2 tie with Merritt to open the season Friday night followed by a 4-0 shutout loss at the hands of the Penticton Vees Saturday. It won’t get easier for the Spruce Kings to record their first win in the next week as an odd schedule sees the Wild in town for three straight games Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. The good news for the Spruce Kings? Their first five games are all at Rolling Mix Concerte Arena (probably the first and last time you will ever see my state that building by its proper and quite ridiculous name). PG has perhaps the strangest season schedule I have ever seen. 14 of their first 18 games are at home while 15 of their last 16 are on the road. Quite frankly this is beyond stupid. I am shocked the Spruce Kings even agreed to this nonsense. After January 14th, Prince George has a grand total of one game at home. Better rack up the points now because trying to lock down a playoff spot without remembering what your own dressing room looks like is pretty tough.
-The Island division was a bit of a wild one on the weekend. An impressive start by the Victoria Grizzlies going 2-0 with wins over the visiting Powell River Kings and Alberni Valley Bulldogs.
-It was the exact opposite result for the Kings with an 0-3 start to the year losing again in Cowichan on Saturday and Nanaimo Sunday afternoon. No reason to fret, however. The Kings had a very slow start to last season and ended up hunting down the Clippers in a race for first in the division before settling for second by the end of February.
-The Capitals opened the season as mentioned against the Kings with a decisive 4-2 win. By all accounts it was a solid all around performance by Cowichan who outscored, out hit, and out shot Powell River. The Capitals host Victoria Tuesday night.
-The Bulldogs have three out of a possible four points to start the season but the talk of the town has to be Tristan Bukovec’s four goal night in Nanaimo Friday. In one night he scored two thirds of his entire goal output from his rookie season and his five points leads the BCHL.
I mentioned in my last post how the Vernon Vipers will be hungry to move past last season and they certainly did a great job of starting the road to a rebound year with a pair of victories in a home-and-home with Salmon Arm. Saturday night’s home opener had the Snakes down 3-1 after 2 periods but a four goal explosion in the final frame led Vernon to a fantastic comeback win. Captain Riley Brandt scored the game winner with seven minutes remaining but it was Jagger Williamson’s short handed tying marker that got social media buzzing. Take a look and see why. Shout out to my good friend Graham Turnbull with a beauty of a call on the goal.
-Winning your home opener is always a good way to start things off and both the West Kelowna Warriors and Trail Smoke Eaters managed the feat splitting their season opening home-and-home. The Warriors raised their Fred Page, WCC, and RBC Cup banners Friday night before dispatching the Smokies. Trail then returned the favour Saturday at Cominco Arena with an 8-5 victory. The Smokies, Express, and Rivermen have all managed to put up 8 goals in a single game already.
-The lone shutout of the season so far belongs to Mathew Robson of the Penticton Vees making 21 stops in Saturday night’s 4-0 win in Prince George. Rookie Ty Amonte started the season as best as possible with a pair of goals and two assists earning the game’s first star in the process.