BCHL Power Rankings: There’s a new number one

Just last week, I released BCHLNetwork’s inaugural edition of the BC Hockey League power rankings. I looked at the first five weeks of the regular season through a statistical lens and compared all 18 BCHL teams.

I wasn’t necessarily planning on releasing the next version of the power rankings just one week later. However, with a fair amount of movement last week and a new number one team, I figured — why not?

So, let’s see how teams stack up after a busy week in the BCHL — compared to how they did after a sample size that included 10-12 games for most teams. Just as was the case last week, the rankings will be determined primarily by points-percentage, with secondary stats such as wins, goals-for, and goal differential breaking any ties.

1. West Kelowna Warriors

Record: 11-2-0-0 (.846%)

Previous rank: No. 3

The Warriors went 3-0 last week to catapult themselves into the top spot in the BCHL. They won back-to-back games in Wenatchee on Thursday and Friday before beating Vernon at home on Saturday.

After another perfect week, West Kelowna has now won seven consecutive contests. In addition to sitting atop the league standings, the Warriors now lead the field in goals-for with 58, while sitting second in goal differential at +23, and third in goals-against with 35.

2. Penticton Vees

Record: 10-2-0-0 (.833%)

Previous: No. 2

Penticton won a pair of cross-conference games on home ice last week, beating Alberni Valley on Wednesday and Victoria on Saturday. The Vees are now 5-2 in their last seven games after winning each of their first five contests this season.

Their 28 goals against and +29 goal differential both rank first in the league, while their 57 goals-for are tied for second overall.

3. Salmon Arm Silverbacks

Record: 9-2-1-0 (.792%)

Previous: No. 1

The Silverbacks lost their spot atop the BCHL standings following a pair of regulation losses on home ice to the Cranbrook Bucks. Heading into the weekend, they had points in each of their first 10 games with a 9-0-1-0 record.

Salmon Arm now ranks seventh overall in goals-for with 51, however its 31 goals against are the second-fewest overall, and its +20 goal differential ranks third. The Silverbacks remain a strong special teams club, with the top-ranked penalty kill at 89.7 percent and the third-best power play at 28.6 percent.

4. Langley Rivermen

Record: 9-2-1-2 (.750%)

Previous: No. 4

The Rivermen managed to maintain their status as both the No. 4 team in the league and the top team in the Coastal Conference after going 2-1 last week. A busy stretch for Langley saw a loss in Coquitlam on Wednesday, followed by wins against Nanaimo and Surrey on the weekend.

The Rivermen also remain a top-five team in goals-for with 54, goals against with 36, and goal differential with a +18 rating.

5. Alberni Valley Bulldogs

Record: 8-4-2-0 (.643%)

Previous: No. 5

Just like Langley, the Bulldogs hold steady at fifth in the league and second on the coast. They went 1-1-1 on a road trip that saw an overtime loss in Penticton, a win in Cranbrook, and a loss in Trail.

Alberni is a top 10 team in goals-for with 47, goals-against at 37, and a goal differential of +10.

6. Cranbrook Bucks

Record: 8-5-0-0 (.615%)

Previous: No. 8

The Bucks move up two spots in the power rankings after a somewhat surprising 2-1 weekend. They suffered just their second loss on home ice all season on Friday to Alberni Valley, before heading to Salmon Arm to pick up a pair of road wins against what was the No. 1 team in the league.

Cranbrook continues to be stingy defensively, with the second-best penalty kill at 86.8 percent and the fifth-fewest goals against at 37.

7. Trail Smoke Eaters

Record: 8-5-1-0 (.607%)

Previous: No. 9

Trail followed its cross-Kootenay rival from Cranbrook by jumping two spots in the rankings. The Smoke Eaters went 2-1 in three home games last week, beating Merritt on Wednesday and Alberni Valley on Saturday, before losing to Victoria on Sunday.

Trail has not been a great statistical team overall, however, it is a top-five club on special teams with a 25 percent power play and a 79.3 percent penalty kill.

8. Prince George Spruce Kings

Record: 9-6-0-0 (.600%)

Previous: No. 6

It was a bit of a tough go for the Spruce Kings last week that saw them go 1-2, en route to falling a couple of spots in the power rankings. They split a home-and-home set with Vernon on Wednesday and Friday before losing to Coquitlam at home on Saturday.

Prince George remains a high-octane offensive threat, as it has the league’s best power play at 35.4 percent, and is tied for the second-most goals with 57.

9. Victoria Grizzlies

Record: 9-6-0-0 (.600%)

Previous: No. 7

Victoria joined the Spruce Kings in dropping a couple of spots after a tough 1-2 road trip last week. The Grizzlies lost in Chilliwack on Friday and Penticton on Saturday, before wrapping up the trip with a win in Trail on Sunday.

The Grizz has matched Prince George and Penticton for the second-most goals-for with 57, but the Grizzlies struggle in most other statistical categories. Special teams are one area of concern for Victoria — which continues to be the most penalized team in the league with 219 minutes in the box.

10. Nanaimo Clippers

Record: 9-6-0-0 (.600%)

Previous: No. 10

The Clippers retain the 10th spot on the list after going 2-1 in three road games last week. They won in Cowichan Valley on Wednesday and Surrey on Friday, before falling to the Rivermen on Saturday in Langley.

Nanaimo is a top-10 team in goals-for at 53, goals against at 45, and goal differential at +8, while being a top five club on special teams with a 27.6 percent power play and an 84.3 percent penalty kill.

11. Chilliwack Chiefs

Record: 6-6-0-0 (.500%)

Previous: No. 11

Chilliwack also retains the No. 11 spot after winning its only game last week at home against Victoria. The Chiefs have been consistently inconsistent through their first 12 games this season, but they are still hanging around the middle of the pack.

Special teams remain an area of strength for Chilliwack, as it continues to lead the Coastal Conference with both a 30.4 percent power play and an 86.7 percent penalty kill.

12. Powell River Kings

Record: 6-6-1-0 (.500%)

Previous: No. 15

Powell River used a pair of wins on home ice against Cowichan Valley to get back to an even .500 on the season and move up three spots in the power rankings. The Kings remain the streakiest team in the league thus far, and have won three straight contests for the second time on the campaign.

Despite cracking the top 12 overall, Powell River remains a bottom five team in goals-for with 41, goals against with 61, goal differential at -20, and penalty killing at 70 percent.

13. Vernon Vipers

Record: 4-5-3-2 (.464%)

Previous: No. 13

The Vipers continue to just slowly slither along, going 1-1-1 in three games last week. After splitting the home-and-home with Prince George mentioned earlier in this article, Vernon travelled to West Kelowna where they fell to the newly No. 1 ranked Warriors.

Like Chilliwack on the Coastal Conference side, all I can really say about the Vipers are — at least they are still hanging around in the Interior.

14. Coquitlam Express

Record: 5-8-1-1 (.400%)

Previous: No. 17

Coquitlam has turned things around in a big way, matching the top-ranked Warriors as the only teams to go 3-0 last week. The Express beat Langley at home on Wednesday before winning in Merritt and Prince George on Friday and Saturday.

The Express is on the low end of most stats this season, but they now lead the league with six shorthanded goals — after scoring four times while a man-down in their overtime win in Merritt.

15. Wenatchee Wild

Record: 2-4-3-1 (.400%)

Previous: No. 14

Wenatchee played its first two home games of the season last week, but unfortunately for fans in north-central Washington state, the visitors from West Kelowna spoiled the party.

The Wild went 0-1-1 in the back-to-back against the Warriors, failing to make up any ground in the standings. There haven’t been many bright spots for Wenatchee, but it is the most disciplined club in the BCHL with a league-low 69 penalty minutes.

16. Surrey Eagles

Record: 5-8-0-0 (.385%)

Previous: No. 12

A winless week for the Eagles caused them to fall four spots in these latest power rankings. Surrey suffered home losses to Nanaimo on Friday and Langley on Sunday.

As to be expected for where they are in the standings, the Eagles are a bottom five team in goals-for with 37, goals against with 51, goal differential at -14, power play at 15.9 percent, and penalty killing at 66.7 percent.

17. Cowichan Valley Capitals

Record: 3-12-0-0 (.200%)

Previous: No. 16

A tough week for the Capitals saw them lose at home to Nanaimo on Wednesday, followed by a pair of losses in Powell River on Friday and Saturday. Scoring is not an issue for the Capitals, but their 70 goals-against and -24 goal differential are second-worst in the league.

Tightening things up defensively would go a long way in keeping Cowichan Valley competitive in the Coastal Conference.

18. Merritt Centennials

Record: 0-12-1-0 (.038%)

Previous: No. 18

Although the Centennials did finally pick up their first point of the season in an overtime loss to Coquitlam, they are still searching for their first win. In addition to the overtime loss at home to the Express, Merritt also lost a tight game on the road in Trail last week.

The Cents rank last in the league in goals-for with 26, goals-against with 77, goal differential at -51, and power play at 11.9 percent. Merritt looks to improve upon a pair of one-goal losses last week and track down that elusive first victory.