Here we go.
I am cautiously optimistic. The numbers, especially if you take out the opening two week disaster and the final nothing game, for the Smokies, are encouraging.
On offence, there is a tight mix of Coquitlam, Penticton, and Trail in the top tier – nobody else is close to the level of scoring by those teams.
On defence, you have Penticton, Nanaimo, Coquitlam and Trail.
That bodes well for the big three clubs for the opening rounds of the playoff season. It foresees some seriously competitive rounds as the playoffs move forward, too.
Let the games begin.
• Quite amazing the way very young players have dominated the BCHL. MVP and Rookie of the Year, as well as all star spots for two 17 year old Smoke Eaters is an astounding result of the season, however well deserved.
Four all star spots for Smokies, as well. With Johnson, naturally, the top first teamer, and Lapointe, for whom a full season would have meant him situated beside Johnson on the first line, Ozar and Terness all second teamers. Like the Junior A challenge, indications of how highly regarded members of the Trail roster are around Junior A hockey.
• Mostly luck, I suppose, given everybody involved in the direct action is just a kid, but the final day of the BCHL regular season schedule created significant standings adjustments in all three divisions. Nanaimo wrested first place on the island from Cowichan Valley, by a single point. Chilliwack overcame Surrey for second place in the mainland group, and the resultant first round home advantage, by a single point, and Salmon Arm jumped from fifth to third, by a tiebreaker mechanism, in the interior.
All that shuffled the playoff bracket, and last minute travel plans, across the league, extensively. Three teams that looked likely to begin the playoffs on home ice suddenly found themselves travelling, and with different opponents.
Quite a coup, in a sense, for the schedule makers.
• Let’s not forget the Nitehawks, either. Beaver Valley came through in top spot in their division by, finally, beating Nelson. In the Leafs home barn, to boot.
That, too, caused a significant standings and playoff bracket shuffle on the KIJHL’s last weekend of play.
Kind of too bad both local clubs are playing the same two nights this weekend. Castlegar is an easy trip for local hockey fans wanting some fill in action while the two teams are, “on the road,” though.
• It is going to be fun to see how the junior hockey playoffs shake out. But, it is also baseball season, a harbinger of spring even in the Great White North. Be on the lookout for ways to support local minor ball. The people that organize that are always looking for help for a variety of tasks, often needing to replace volunteers who have given decades in the service of supporting the kids involved.
Meeting dates and times are listed on local ball websites. Umpires are never in abundance, so check out that avenue, too.• And, Happy Saint David’s Day, Sunday. The Welsh deserve some notice, too, even though they don’t prance, parade and party, and partake of green libations, like another national group will 16 days later. Leeks, a symbol of Welsh solidarity, are much better for you than green beer, and have a much brighter green hue than shamrocks. I guarantee it.