Week 1 in the BCHL certainly had its share of excitement but week 2 came with plenty of surprises. Only 2 undefeated teams remain in Merritt and Wenatchee and it already appears as if there could very well be multiple contenders for each division title. Of course the season is still incredibly young but the past week also taught us quite a bit!
-The Wenatchee Wild finally got their season underway Wednesday in Prince George, the first of three straight meetings with the Spruce Kings. The Wild opened the series with a resounding 5-1 win followed by a 7-3 victory Friday night. But the real blowout came in the series finale Saturday where the Wild stomped Prince George 11-2. Troy Conzo posted a hat trick with a five point night while 13 different skaters found the scoresheet. According to the Wild’s twitter account Saturday night tied a franchise single-game scoring record. It concluded a dominant 3-0 start for Wenatchee while also closing out an embarrassing five-game home stand for the Spruce Kings who were outscored by a combined 29-8 margin. PG started the season with a tie against Merritt but haven’t secured a single point since and their schedule doesn’t get any easier facing the Centennials and Vees at the BCHL Showcase in Chilliwack this weekend.
-The Chilliwack Chiefs hosted the Rivermen Saturday night in their home opener in front of more than 3500 fans who went home disappointed with a 4-1 Langley victory. Special teams were the difference in this one as the Rivermen scored twice on six power play chances while killing off all five Chiefs man advantages. You could call it a bit of an early season statement by the Rivermen who were dominated by the Chiefs in last year’s season series. With the Wild off to a very strong start in the Mainland and the Chiefs looking for a third straight division title, the Rivermen certainly appear to have something to say about that now at 2-1 to start while scoring 15 goals in those three games.
-One of the bigger surprises for me on the weekend came by way of the Surrey Eagles. Yes, they are 0-4 to start the season but their three game Island road trip saw them in three very competitive games losing to Victoria 3-1 Friday, followed by a pair of one-goal losses in Nanaimo and Powell River respectively. While the Eagles continue to wait for their first win on the season, their results so far show four very close games and perhaps at least an improvement in the competitive category. Time will tell but there are certainly a few positives to take out of their first two weeks.
-To the Island now and what a start to the season it’s been for the Victoria Grizzlies. Going 4-0 out of the gate, the Grizzlies hammered the Capitals 6-1 in Duncan on Tuesday before defeating the visiting Eagles 3-1 at home Friday night. The Grizzlies suffered their first loss on the year Saturday when Cowichan exacted revenge with a 2-1 victory. Jared Domin got the game winner with six minutes remaining in the third period as he has three goals including two game winners in his first four games of the season. Lane Michasiw has had a strong start to the season for the Caps with a 2.35 GAA and a .924 save percentage as he has backstopped Cowichan to both of their wins so far as well as Sunday afternoon’s double overtime loss to the Penticton Vees. The Caps had a good performance in their season opener against Powell River before laying a massive egg on Tuesday night against Victoria only to bounce back with 3 out of a possible 4 points on the weekend. Only time will tell us which the real Capitals team is.
-The two-time defending Island division champion Clippers are now 3-1 with a three game win streak after dropping their season opener to the Bulldogs. Nanaimo shutout Alberni Friday night before securing a 3-2 win over the Eagles at Frank Crane Arena on Saturday. Things are crowded early atop the Island standings with the Powell River Kings trailing at 1-4. The Kings finally got their first win of the season Sunday afternoon against the visiting Eagles, 3-2. I still believe at the end of the day Powell River will find themselves at or near the top of the division.
-The Penticton Vees had a less than desirable road trip by their own standards but still came away with 4 out of a possible 6 points with a 3-1 win in Powell River Friday, a 4-3 double OT victory in Cowichan Sunday while suffering a 2-1 loss in Alberni Saturday night. It was quite the game for Grant Cruikshank Sunday securing his first career BCHL hat trick but the Capitals would not go quietly. Domin and Josh Owings both scored in the second period to tie the game before Cruikshank completed the hatty in the third giving the Vees the lead once again. Ayden MacDonald tied it back at three with his first of the season on the power play forcing extra time. 1:22 into double OT it was Chris Klack with the winner, quite the way to score his first in the BCHL.
-The Vees have a share of the Interior division lead with the Vernon Vipers who dropped their first of the season Saturday night in West Kelowna. After a perfect 3-0 start, the Vipers fell 3-1 to the defending national champions
-The Centennials earned a home-and-home sweep against the Trail Smoke Eaters and have yet to lose a game having tied the Spruce Kings to open the season.
-It’s been a struggle out of the gate for the Salmon Arm Silverbacks who have scored just 8 goals in their first four games with an 0-4 record. Along with the Cowichan Valley Capitals, I had the biggest question marks this season alongside the Silverbacks. It’s still very early of course but especially in the Interior division you can’t afford to get into too deep a hole.
Next up for the BCHL is the annual Showcase hosted once again at Prospera Centre in Chilliwack. All 17 teams are present to play two games each in front of an expected several hundred NCAA, CIS, and NHL scouts. While the purpose of the showcase is for said scouts, the games are just as meaningful as any other and we’ll have plenty in store to keep us entertained!