Column: Now’s the time for Chilliwack Chiefs to get on a roll

Time’s running out on the 2017-18 regular season BCHL schedule and the Chiefs need to gain ground.

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

If the Chilliwack Chiefs are going to secure home ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs, positive results in their next stretch of games are a must.

They currently sit in fourth place in the Mainland division. They are five points back of the third place Langley Rivermen. Two points ahead of Langley are both the Prince George Spruce Kings and Surrey Eagles.

Chilliwack has played two fewer games than both Langley and Surrey and one fewer than the Kings.

This weekend the Chiefs face Langley Saturday and Prince George Sunday, with both games in Chilliwack.

The following weekend they travel to Prince George for a pair of games.

Winning all four, while not a must, would certainly go a long way towards nailing down home ice advantage in the first round.

Saturday’s game theme is Country/Western Night. Fans are encouraged to come to the game dressed in their best jeans, plaid shirt and cowboy boots. And of course, don’t forget your cowboy hat.

Two recent suspensions to Chiefs players got me thinking.

Anthony Vincent recently returned from a four game suspension and Jared Turcotte is finishing off the last of his six game sentence this weekend.

Both were punished for hits to the head. Neither incident involved any intent to injure.

That’s not to say their punishments were unfair, and players do need to be responsible for their actions.

Vincent’s play was a strange one. It looks like he is trying to avoid the hit and actually only received a roughing minor on the play. Turcotte’s was an open ice hit that went wrong. Again, I saw no intent to injure on either play.

That leads me to the penalties for fighting.

Fighting is no longer a big part of the junior hockey game. The game has changed and we no longer have to watch the brawling that was front and center most nights 20 to 30 years ago.

But the penalties for fighting haven’t changed much. It’s still a five minute penalty and automatic ejection from the game with maybe an extra two minutes if you are deemed to have instigated the fight.

What has changed is the addition of suspensions with the accumulation of fighting majors in a single season. Once a player reaches six or more fights in a season he will start missing games due to suspension.

This doesn’t jive to me.

A player can unintentionally hit a player in the head and be handed a six game suspension, but a player can punch a player repeatedly in the face, obviously intending to injure his opponent and serve only whatever time is left in the game.

Fighting isn’t a big problem in the BCHL anymore. But with everything we know about head injuries, now might be the time to increase the penalties to at least match what players are receiving for other hits to their opponents heads.

jb@chilliwackchiefs.net

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