Column: Early upsets in BCHL playoffs

In his last column of the season, Jacob Bestebroer discusses surprising early returns from the first round of BCHL playoffs.

The first round of the BCHL playoffs started earlier this week with a couple of surprises. The third place Coquitlam Express took game two in Prince George to even their series at one, and the fourth place Surrey Eagles are also tied 1-1 with first place Langley.

Quick tangent here. Why is the league back to starting the playoffs mid-week?

They understandably do everything they can to avoid mid-week games during the regular season, but would it not make more sense to play a few more mid-week games during the regular season, end the season a week earlier and let the teams who earned home ice advantage start their series with weekend games? I’m going to answer my own question: yes.

The biggest surprise so far is the Alberni Valley Bulldogs and Victoria Grizzlies series tied at one. The Grizzlies finished with 29 more points than the Bulldogs during the regular season. The one series I thought we might see an upset in hasn’t played out that way so far. I thought the Nanaimo Clippers might upset the Powell River Kings but the Kings lead that series 2-0. No surprise at all in the Interior where the Penticton Vees hold a 2-0 series lead on the Merritt Centennials and the West Kelowna Warriors and Vernon Vipers are tied at one.

The Vernon vs West Kelowna series is the toughest to pick and should end up being the best series of the first round.

The Chiefs held their end of season awards banquet on Sunday. The full list of winners can be found on the Chiefs website. The big winners were Mathieu Tibbet (MVP/Top Scorer/3 Stars), Tanner Cochrane (Fan Favorite and Unsung Hero) and Carter Cochrane (Top Defenseman and Rookie of the Year). Tibbet also finished his BCHL career with the BCHL Player of the Month Award after scoring 11 goals and 5 assists during the month of February.

The BCHL also handed out their regular season awards this week and congrats go out to Chiefs Alum Bobby Henderson who was named BCHL Coach of the Year after leading the Langley Rivermen to a first overall finish.  The league MVP is Landon Smith of the Salmon Arm Silverbacks. I’m surprised at that choice. I don’t question the fine season he had. He led the league in goals (43) and tied for the league lead in points (83) but the Silverbacks didn’t make the playoffs. My vote would have gone to Penticton captain Brad McClure. He scored 41 goals, had 80 points and his team finished in first place in the Interior.

That’s it for me this season. Thank you to everyone for their feedback throughout the year and I look forward to seeing you at the rink in September.

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