Column: Chilliwack Chiefs must stick to game plan to defeat Prince George

The Spruce Kings handled the Chiefs convincingly in the season series, but they’re not unbeatable.

Jacob Bestebroer writes a weekly column during hockey season discussing the Chilliwack Chiefs, the BCHL and goings-on around the junior A world.

The Chilliwack Chiefs will be facing the Prince George Spruce Kings in the opening round of the BCHL playoffs starting tonight in Prince George.

The series will be a best of seven played in the traditional 2-2-1-1-1 format, meaning the first two games will be played in Prince George. Games three and four are played in Chilliwack on Monday and Tuesday night, and if additional games are needed to decide the series they will alternate cities in games five through seven beginning with Prince George in game five.

Why the league didn’t step in and mandate that this series be played in a 2-3-2 format is beyond me. There is no reason to have the potential for that much bus travel should the series go six or seven games.

Then again, I’m not sure they look at maps when making decisions.

If they did, Prince George would not be in the Mainland division and Merritt, which is three hours by bus away from the four true Mainland teams, would be in this division.

As for what to expect in this series, I’m looking for similar hockey to what we saw when the teams played each other this season, but I am obviously hoping for different results.

The Chiefs faced the Spruce Kings eight times during the regular season and did not win one of those eight games.

They managed a tie and an overtime loss to earn two points.

Most of the games were extremely close. The Chiefs were the better team in at least three of those games but were unable to get a win.

The Spruce Kings are extremely tough to play against.

They are fully committed to their defensive systems and have very good goaltending. They don’t give up a lot of goals and do not take many penalties.

They test their opposition’s patience, and last Friday’s game here was a perfect example of this.

Right from the get go in that game, Chilliwack was the better team.

They created more shots, more chances and were the much more physical of the two teams. They had a good game plan going in and executed most of it to perfection, with the exception of being able to capitalize on the few scoring chances that the Spruce Kings gave up.

The final score was Kings over Chiefs 2-1.

My hope is that the Chiefs players understand that the game plan is the right game plan and they don’t question it because it has not resulted in wins against this team. They need to be patient and stick to the plan. If they do, they can win this series, but it won’t be easy.

If you’re looking for any upsets in the first round don’t look to the Interior division. I expect the top four teams, Penticton, Vernon, Wenatchee, and Trail will all cruise through to the second round.

On this side, every series in each of the Mainland and Island divisions could be tight.

It would be no surprise at all to see either three seed beat the two seed.

Those series involve Langley (two) vs Surrey (three) and Nanaimo (two) vs Powell River (three). I wouldn’t expect the one seed on the Island, Victoria to lose to Alberni Valley but it may be closer than some people think.

Enjoy the games.

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