Jacob Bestebroer writes a bi-weekly column in the Chilliwack Progress during the junior a hockey season.
Prior to this season’s start, when asked what could be expected from the Chiefs this season I was only 100 per cent confident in one answer.
This year’s Chiefs were going to be young.
With youth comes an expected period of learning. Some will call going with a young team a rebuild, a period where win totals will hopefully at least equal the loss totals till everything starts to click and the team becomes a legitimate contender.
The being young part can’t be argued.
The numbers show that the Chiefs are tied with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks for the youngest average age in the BCHL at 18.4 years. They are also the two youngest teams out of 56 in the four western Canadian junior A leagues in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and B.C.
With the league’s best record through their first 16 games (12-4-0-0) the Chiefs are proving that you can win and contend with a young team.
At the other end of the spectrum, the Cowichan Valley Capitals are proving that being older does not guarantee success.
They are the oldest team in the BCHL, tied with West Kelowna at an average age of 19.2, and they currently own the worst record at 2-10-1-1.
With a quarter of the 58 game regular season already done, I think it’s safe to say the Chiefs early success is no fluke and this team is a contender. Their schedule has not been an easy one, so to sit atop the league’s standings going into this weekend is quite an accomplishment.
Having said that, I see at least a half dozen teams that have a legitimate chance at winning the BCHL championship this season.
Like last year there won’t be much of a difference between a first round exit from the playoffs and advancing to the league finals.
Last year the Prince George Spruce Kings were down a goal with seven minutes left in game seven of their first round series against the Chiefs. They came back to vanquish Chilliwack and a few weeks later they had won two more series and were in the league finals against the Wenatchee Wild.
It’s not a stretch to predict a similar situation playing out next spring.
Heading into weekend games against Trail and Penticton, Chiefs forward Kevin Wall has to be the early top contender for player of the week honors.
He kicked things off with two goals and what will after some corrections are made, three assists in Tuesday’s 5-1 win in West Kelowna.
Harrison Blaisdell (one goal, two assists) and defenceman Alex Marrocco (three assists) also had big nights. Defenseman After going pointless in his first 13 games, blueliner Will Dow-Kenny had his second straight multi- point game with a goal, his first in the BCHL, and a assist.