For the second time this season

Column: Resurgent Surrey Eagles could spark rivalry with Chiefs

In his weekly BCHL column, Jacob Bestebroer says the return of the Chilliwack Chiefs/Surrey Eagles rivalry could be on the horizon.

Over the Chiefs 20-plus years in Chilliwack, they’ve had an on-again-off-again rivalry with the Surrey Eagles. But since the Chiefs return to Chilliwack in 2011 it’s been mostly off. Hopefully that may be changing.When the Chiefs returned five years ago they played in the Interior division and only saw the Eagles a few times a year. The following year, the Chiefs return to the Mainland division sparked the rivalry. That year culminated with the Eagles knocking the Chiefs out in the second round of the playoffs (after a ridiculous first round schedule that saw the Chiefs play games in Chilliwack, Prince George and Chilliwack on three consecutive nights — then have to start their series with Surrey two nights later. Why is Prince George in this division instead of Merritt?). The following year the Chiefs were not very good and for the last two years Surrey has, putting it mildly, struggled. The thing with rivalries is they don’t work when one of the teams isn’t good. In last week’s column I mentioned that Surrey might be this year’s most improved BCHL team. By the time you read that, they had thumped the Chiefs 8-2 in Surrey. On Saturday at Prospera Centre we saw the two teams play an excellent back and forth game that saw the Eagles take a one goal lead four different times, only to see the Chiefs tie it each time. The only lead the Chiefs held was when Jordan Kawaguchi scored the overtime winner with one second left in the final overtime. The game brought back memories of when these teams and fan bases wanted nothing more than to beat each other. We were talking about the heyday of the rivalry at the Chiefs office last week. Rick Lanz’s name came up. He coached the Eagles to a league championship in 1996-97. He also coached the Langley Hornets for a number of years as well as the Burnaby Express. No opposition coach has been involved more in division rivalries with the Chiefs than Rick Lanz.And now he’s back. The Surrey Eagles have brought him back as an assistant coach. I don’t know how big a role he’ll play but it’s nice to have him involved again and I look forward to seeing him at the Chiefs vs Eagles games. The Eagles are turning things around and that will make the mainland division a lot more exciting. Tuesday night in West Kelowna the Chiefs lost 1-0 in overtime. It was a very entertaining game and the first time the Chilliwack version of the Chiefs has ever been involved in 1-0 regular season overtime game.  It was their 1,1999th regular season game. Chiefs are on the Island this weekend. Saturday they visit Alberni Valley before playing a matinee in Victoria on Sunday. They return home Oct. 14 to host Vernon.

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