Chilliwack can make it 2 straight finals

It’s been a while, far too long in fact, since I graced these pages so I’ll run through a number of issues point-form style.

The Chilliwack Chiefs have the Grizzlies on the brink of elimination heading into game 5 at Prospera Centre tonight. A Chiefs win would make it 2 straight trips to the Fred Page Cup final. Since Jason Tatarnic was hired three years ago the Chiefs have re-established themselves as a perennial contender.

The Grizzlies were always going to be in tough against Chilliwack but one has to wonder how much the effect of a game 1 debacle had that saw Victoria play with Chilliwack Minor Hockey jerseys on. Someone forgot to load the team’s jerseys onto the bus before leaving the Island and led to a scramble to make sure the team had something to wear for the game. Based on the result of game 1 (a 7-3 Chiefs win) and the first period in particular (Chiefs put up four goals on 14 shots), the Grizzlies sure looked like a team that wasn’t fully prepared. Good on Vic to rebound with a game 2 win the following night.

Of course no one would admit it, but you have to think the Chiefs and Grizzlies are cheering for the Penticton Vees in their Interior final series with Vernon. Since the Vees are hosting the Western Canada Cup, if Penticton advances to the league final, their opponent will automatically earn a WCC berth.

As expected, goaltending has been a big factor in the Vernon-Penticton series thus far. Knotted at two games apiece heading into game five at the SOEC tonight, Vernon’s Darion Hanson is boasting a .934 save percentage in the series coming off a 32 save shutout in game four. He has earned 1st star in each of the Vipers’ victories. Penticton’s Mat Robson isn’t far behind with a .923 save percentage in the series.

They were eliminated a month ago but it was a very good week for the Nanaimo Clippers who announced a new ownership structure that will allow the team to remain in the Harbour City. It’s been a rollercoaster 2017 for the franchise who had to sit through the events centre referendum and then further uncertainty about an expired lease at Frank Crane Arena and an ownership group that is tapped out.

While the Clippers’ lease at Frank Crane has yet to be settled, there’s little doubt it will be since there is no WHL team imminently on the move which would otherwise leave the city owned facility without an anchor tenant.

Hopefully for the Clippers a move to a community-owned structure will be successful. I have had many people ask me which model is better, private or a public society. The answer is, there is no answer. There are both successful and unsuccessful examples of both. It really comes down to which suits a particular community better, but even more-so it depends on the franchise’s ability to gain the revenue they need. The big plus of a society run, not-for-profit franchise is the ability to gain a gaming licence from the province. The Prince George Spruce Kings have been running their show home lottery for decades with a great deal of success.

Speaking of Prince George, a bit of a surprise announcement Thursday as head coach Chad Van Diemen announced he is stepping down after two years at the helm for family reasons. The former Powell River Kings assistant coach is coming off a very good bounce back season leading the Spruce Kings back into the playoffs and proceeded to push the Wenatchee Wild almost to the brink in their first round playoff series. Associate Coach Adam Maglio was also announced as Van Diemen’s replacement while the team will begin a search for a new assistant.

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