Column: Early season success garners national notice

As Jacob Bestebroer notes this week, the Chilliwack Chiefs are rated one of the best junior A teams in the country.

Despite the latest CJHL weekly rankings having the Chiefs in fourth place, there were no chants of “We’re Number 4!” heard at Prospera Centre this week. That’s not to say the acknowledgement was not noticed and appreciated.

It’s just think it’s a little too early in the season to get too carried away with these rankings.

I have mixed feelings about the rankings.

I like them because they get people talking about junior A hockey and that’s obviously a good thing. I’m just not so sure how accurate they are, especially this early in the season with the sample size being so small.

Add that to the fact that I can’t think of one person who would actually have seen all 20 teams that are ranked play this year, and I think they need to be taken with a grain of salt.

I’m not saying the Chiefs are undeserving.

They are the only BCHL team that has yet to lose a game and with the BCHL being the best junior A league in Canada, they should be ranked high. But to not have the Penticton Vees ranked is absurd.

The game that cost the Vees a spot in the top 20 was a 5-0 loss in Merritt. That’s also the game that put Merritt in 15th.

Another interesting note about this week’s rankings is the team ranked just below the Chiefs in fifth. That would be the Woodstock Slammers, the team that Chiefs coaches Jason Tatarnic and Kyle Adams spent years running with a lot of success.

I’d like to see someone publish a BCHL power rankings. Right now I’d put the Chiefs at one with the Vees in two. West Kelowna would slot in at number three with Prince George and Merritt rounding out the top five.

I am surprised that Chiefs forward Craig Puffer is not the current BCHL Player of the Week.

He scored both goals in an overtime win in Surrey Friday night and added a pair of goals in Saturday’s 6-2 home ice win against Surrey.

He did receive an honorable mention.

I watched a few Chiefs practices earlier this week. Just watching made me tired. The coaching staff pushes the players hard but at the same time keep things fun, interesting and competitive. I see a lot of what is worked on in practices pay off in games. The breakout plays that have been used in games with great success are worked on a lot during practices.

The Chiefs face a tough test this weekend travelling to Prince George for games Friday and Saturday night. The Spruce Kings are big and tough and play in a rink that is very similar to the old Chilliwack Coliseum.

We should see newly added forward Brandon Potomak in the lineup this weekend. The Chiefs added the 19 year old Aldergrove native to their roster this week. He’s spent the last two seasons with the Moose Jaw Warriors of the Western Hockey League.

He’s an excellent skater who plays with an edge. His offensive numbers weren’t what they were expected to be in the WHL but that could change here.

His numbers were good through minor hockey and the junior B level — 20 goals and 27 assists in 34 games with the Aldergove Kodiaks during the 2011-12 season.

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