The oddest thing about the BCHL’s extremely odd third round has been the success of road teams.
The visitor has prevailed in each of the five games.
The Chilliwack Chiefs have lost twice at Prospera Centre, falling 5-1 to the West Kelowna Warriors and 2-1 to the Nanaimo Clippers.
You could write it off as small sample-size noise of no real significance.
Or you could choose to read into it.
Chilliwack head coach Jason Tatarnic finds it curious and can’t really explain it.
“There’s just a different feel to it, totally, than playing another team in a best-of-seven,” he said. “I don’t know how much that translates into the road teams winning, but I think home ice advantage maybe means more in a seven game series than it does in this format.”
Home ice advantage certainly means more when you’ve got a lot of fans in the stands, and that’s been missing in round three.
Chilliwack had 1,134 bums in seats against West Kelowna and 1,653 against Nanaimo.
Tatarnic said players do feed off the energy of the crowd, and this third round format has made it challenging for Chiefs fans to figure out who’s playing when and against whom.
“It is a confusing schedule and people don’t understand it,” the coach said. “I don’t think the format is great for attendance.”
Tatarnic would love to see a packed house Sunday when his team faces the Warriors.
Puck drop is 5 p.m. and Chilliwack could put this zany round behind them with a win.
With road victories over Nanaimo (4-1) and West Kelowna (4-3 OT) already in the bag, the Chiefs could be the first (or second) team to get the three wins needed to advance.
That part depends on the result of a Friday night game between the Warriors and Clippers in Nanaimo.
After Wednesday night’s 4-3 overtime win in Kelowna, Chilliwack should feel confident.
Kohen Olischefski, Rylan Bechtel and Taylor Allen had regulation time goals and Jordan Kawaguchi snapped the winner past Warrior keeper Matthew Greenfield on a breakaway just 59 seconds into OT.
The Warriors scored in the last minute of regulation time just to get to the extra session.
Still, the Chiefs will remember the home-ice loss to West Kelowna that kicked off round three, a 5-1 defeat that was every bit as ugly as the score.
“I’ve liked how we’ve played outside of that one game,” Tatarnic said. “Not saying we were terrible. We were bad and that’s why they won.”
“That’s the one we’d really like to have back.”
Kelowna’s come into Chilliwack twice this year and whumped the Chiefs, winning a regular season matchup 6-3 back in January.
Tatarnic’s not worried as long as his team plays its game and plays it with energy.
“I don’t think they dominated that last game,” he said. “When we watched the video we weren’t that bad. They didn’t really create much and they got two on the power-play.”
“There were some things we did really well and it wasn’t as bad as I thought when I went back and watched it on tape.”
The Chiefs can technically afford to lose Sunday and still advance.
Chilliwack would have to travel to West Kelowna Tuesday for another game with the Warriors.
The winner of that one would advance.