It’s a strange situation for the Chilliwack Chiefs right now.
Their BCHL playoff hopes were squashed in the first round at the hands of the Prince George Spruce Kings but they’ll be back at Prospera Centre in May as the host team for the Royal Bank Cup national championships.
As disappointing as it was to see the Chiefs lose the way they did, late in game seven, it’s difficult to find any issue with how they played in the series.
I said going in that they had a chance to upset the Spruce Kings if they believed in and executed their game. They believed in and executed the plan and just didn’t get the result they wanted.
To a man, I thought they Chiefs played extremely well.
Goaltender Daniel Chenard, who was never able to put together a lengthy streak during the regular season due to a few nagging injuries and illness, was at the top of his game. In my opinion he was the best player in the series.
In a series as close as that one you can look at several instances where it could have taken a turn and ended differently.
I look back to game three in Chilliwack, a game that was tied at 1-1 for most of the second half of regulation time before the Spruce Kings won it in overtime.
While the game was tied at one, the Chiefs twice hit the crossbar including once in extra time.
The series was that close.
No real surprises in the other first round matchups.
In the Interior the top four teams all swept their first round series. That sets up two series that could easily double as the league finals. The Penticton Vees will take on the Trail Smoke Eaters and the Vernon Vipers will play the Wenatchee Wild. Both those series could go either way but I’ll take the Smoke Eaters to pull off the upset and advance to play the Vipers in the Interior final.
I can’t see whichever team comes out of the Interior not winning the league championship, advancing to the Doyle Cup versus Alberta’s champion and playing for a spot in the RBC Cup in May.
In the Island division, the Victoria Grizzlies didn’t make it easy on themselves. They fell behind three games to nothing in their first round series against Alberni Valley, losing each of those game in overtime.
They then rattled off four straight wins to advance to the Island division final.
They’ll meet the Powell River Kings, who advanced with a six game series win over the Nanaimo Clippers in a series that was almost as tight and just one game shorter than the Chiefs vs Prince George series.
Tough call on which team will win the Island division.
It could and should be a long series. Now that Grizzlies super rookie Alex Newhook is back and seems to be healthy I’ll give the edge to Victoria.