By Cole Marton
Ahh spring, a time when it’s too cold in the morning but frustratingly warm in the afternoon, kids in school are looking forward to two weeks off where they can avoid studying, and the 2023 BCHL Playoffs presented by Shaw rapidly approaching, it truly is one of the best times of the year. It’s also the most important time of the year for the Chilliwack Chiefs, who control their own playoff destiny with two massive games against two teams who are just above them in the standings this weekend. Before we get into the games, let’s take a look at the overall Coastal Conference Standings in the BCHL.
The Alberni Valley Bulldogs, Victoria Grizzlies, Coquitlam Express, and the Chiefs are only separated by 4 points with the Bulldogs in 3rd, and the Chiefs in 6th. What’s more intriguing, is the Bulldogs have played two more games than every other team mentioned, meaning 3rd place is entirely up for grabs with just 5 games remaining for the Chiefs, Grizzlies, and Express.
On Friday, the Chiefs host the Grizzlies with an opportunity to tie them in the standings and move into 4th place. The significance of a win can’t be understated, as home ice would be a huge benefit for a young Chiefs team which has been electric on home ice as of late. After an 0-3-1 skid at home to begin the year, the Chiefs have gone 14-3-3 since and have beaten a number of top teams inside the Coliseum, including Victoria and Alberni Valley who are potential first round playoff matchups.
Victoria is no easy feat, and while they don’t have the high end scoring some of the teams at the top of the standings possess, they’re one of the best teams in the Coastal Conference from goaltending out. BCHL All-Star Oliver Auyeung-Ashton is one of the best goaltenders in the league, and he’s buoyed by an experienced defensive corps led by 17 year old Hoyt Stanley. The size of the Victoria blueline is nothing to scoff at, as the Grizzlies don’t have a defender under 6’0, so the Chiefs will have to battle for every inch if they want to penetrate the Victoria defense.
On Saturday, the Bulldogs are an even tougher matchup as one of the oldest teams in the league. The Bulldogs, under the leadership of Joe Martin, are extremely well coached and have a balanced attack which can strike at any moment. Nicholas Beneteau leads the Bulldogs with 54 points and will be their focal point on offense, but the Bulldogs have 10 players on their roster with over 20 points on the season to highlight their balanced attack. Hobie Hedquist is no slouch in net, and was a big reason why the Bulldogs were one of the top teams in the conference last season and has been just as good this year. Discipline will be huge for a young Chiefs team but they’ve proven they can topple these dogs, earning a 4-3 overtime win the last time these two teams faced off here at the Coliseum.
In hockey, both of these games can be classified as 4 point matchups, as the Chiefs have an opportunity to make up significant ground on two teams above them in the standings. With so much at stake, expect both of these games to have a playoff like intensity to them which should make hockey nights at the Chilliwack Coliseum appointment viewing. For more information on how to get your tickets, you can give the Chiefs office a call at 604-392-4433 or visit our website chilliwackchiefs.net