Column: Educated guesswork on BCHL playoffs

Each week during the BCHL season, local hockey guru Jacob Bestebroer offers thoughts on the Chilliwack Chiefs and other matters.

It’s playoff time which also means it’s prediction time.

I don’t mind making them.

I’m not scared of being wrong.

I’m just not fond of the word predict, which is defined as ‘to declare or tell in advance; prophesy; foretell.’ I think the word that should be used is guess, which is defined as ‘to arrive at or commit oneself to an opinion about (something) without having sufficient evidence to support the opinion fully.’

The Chilliwack Chiefs and their first round opponent, the Prince George Spruce Kings met eight times during the regular season.

That’s the specific evidence we have to make a prediction/guess. Don’t think I haven’t spent more than a few hours poring over all the stats and numbers those eight games provided.

I have, and I enjoyed every minute of it. I just don’t think it’s enough to enable me to be 100 per cent sure of what is going to happen.

But it does enable me to guess, so here we go.

The Chiefs have home ice advantage. I think the advantage is lessened by the fact that the series is a best-of-five.

And here’s the strange thing.

Each team was very good in the other team’s rink this season. The Chiefs were a perfect 4-0-0-0 in Prince George, while the Spruce Kings were 2-1-0-1 in Chilliwack. Luke Esposito had 13 in eight games while Phil Zielonka had 12 points in six games.

Both teams relied heavily on their starting goaltenders.

Spruce Kings starter Kirk Thompson led the league in minutes played (2806).

Chiefs started Mitch Gillam finished second (2750).

Gillam was named BCHL Coastal conference most valuable player earlier this week. In the eight games the two teams played each other, Gillam posted two shutouts and was named first star three times. Obvious advantage to the Chiefs right?

Not so fast.

Thompson was also named first star three times versus Chilliwack this season and all three of those games were played in Chilliwack. Advantage Chilliwack yes, but it’s close.

Offensively, the Chiefs are better. They outscored Prince George 182-170 during the regular season. Head to head they came out on top 29-16.

Chiefs forward Austin Plevy finished second (74 points) in league scoring while Esposito was just three points behind him. Plevy earned 17 of those 74 points in the eight games against the Spruce Kings.

There is no question the Chiefs have the better special teams.

Chilliwack had the third best power play (22.61 per cent) and the number one penalty kill (86.08 per cent).

The Spruce Kings power play ranked 14th (17.02 per cent) while their penalty killing finished seventh (81.09 per cent). The Chiefs were even better in the games against Prince George, scoring on 10 of 39 power play opportunities while killing off 34 of 39 penalties.

Take these numbers, along with many others that I don’t have the space here to discuss, mash them all together and what does it all mean?

I’m guessing Chiefs in four.

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