BCHL Power Rankings: There’s a new number one — again

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks around the BC Hockey League. Extreme weather conditions evacuated one BCHL team from its home, and a pair of other teams were stranded on the road for a few extra days.

In addition to immediate effects of the storms across BC, there are some lingering conditions for the league to deal with while people try to put the weather disaster behind them. Flooding and road closures postponed many games as travel between the Coast and Interior is effectively cut off.

In conjunction with the many postponements and cancellations, a slew of schedule changes added several regional games to ensure teams are still playing as much as possible, even if originally planned road trips were put on hold.

When games have gone on, the BCHL continues to showcase a high level of competitiveness. In the two weeks since I released my second power rankings of the season, we’ve seen that as much as things change, they tend to stay the same.

What I mean by that is, for example, the top four teams in the league remain the same. However, none of them are in the spot they resided in two weeks ago.

Beyond the top four, the middle of the pack teams are also the same, but once again with a much different look to the list. Lastly, the teams around the bottom of the league remain the same, with a little bit of movement as well.

With all that being said, let’s get to the latest edition of the power rankings, starting with another new number one team. Here’s how BCHL teams stack up against each other through the end of November.

1. Penticton Vees

Record: 14-2-0-0 (.875%)

Previous Rank: No. 2

The Penticton Vees finally made it to where they thought they’d be this season — the top of the BCHL standings. Despite still fending off other contenders, Penticton owns the No. 1 spot in the power rankings for the first time this season.

At the time of this writing, the Vees have won six straight games, nine of their last 10, and 14 of 16 on the season. They lead the league in both goals-for and goals-against, with also the best goal differential so far this season.

2. Salmon Arm Silverbacks

Record: 15-3-1-0 (.816%)

Previous: No. 3

After seeing their 10-game, season-opening point streak snapped with two straight losses, the Silverbacks seem to be back on track. They’ve won four in a row and six of their last seven to climb back up to number two in the league. In addition to trailing Penticton in the standings, Salmon Arm trails only the Vees in goals-for and goal differential to date.

3. Langley Rivermen

Record: 13-3-1-2 (.763%)

Previous: No. 4

This should probably be the last time I use the word ‘surprise’ when talking about the Rivermen this year — but they have continued to surprise as we approach the midway mark of the season. Langley finds itself in the top-three of the league after sweeping a three-game Island road trip, and winning six of its last seven contests.

4. West Kelowna Warriors

Record: 13-5-0-0 (.722%)

Previous: No. 1

After riding a seven-game win-streak to the top of the BCHL standings, the Warriors have lost three of their last five games. Two of those defeats came at the hands of Penticton and Salmon Arm — the two teams which overtook West Kelowna at the top of this list.

5. Nanaimo Clippers

Record: 13-6-0-0 (.684%)

Previous: No. 10

Here comes Nanaimo — a team that expects to consistently contend, and looks to finally be rounding into form. After putting a 3-5-0 slump behind them, the Clippers crack the top-five riding a four-game winning streak and claiming victory in six of their last seven overall.

6. Prince George Spruce Kings

Record: 10-6-0-0 (.625%)

Previous: No. 8

Since starting the season with six wins in its first eight games, Prince George has essentially alternated wins and losses over its last eight games. While the Spruce Kings do still find themselves sixth in the standings, there are certainly some teams trending toward them while they continue their search for consistency.

7. Alberni Valley Bulldogs

Record: 10-6-3-0 (.605%)

Previous: No. 5

Alberni Valley is another team that saw a bit of a drop-off following a hot start to the season. In fact, since recording three straight shutout victories between Oct. 30 and Nov. 6, the Bulldogs have five losses in their last eight games, including defeats to Nanaimo and Langley — the two teams above them in the Coastal Conference standings.

8. Chilliwack Chiefs

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

Previous: No. 11

Turning the page from some teams scuffling of late, Chilliwack seems to have found the consistency it lacked earlier in the season. The Chiefs have won four consecutive contests and six of their last eight, outscoring opponents 38-14 during that time.

9. Trail Smoke Eaters

Record: 9-6-1-0 (.594%)

Previous: No. 7

The Smoke Eaters have lost two of their last three games, but six wins in their seven games prior has them right in the thick of things in the Interior Conference. Trail is 7-3 at home this season — a big reason why the Smokies are where they are in the standings.

10. Cranbrook Bucks

Record: 9-6-1-0 (.594%)

Previous: No. 6

The Bucks round out the top-10 this time around, after going 1-1-1 since the last power rankings were released. Cranbrook continues to be a strong defensive team, with the sixth-fewest goals against and the third-best penalty kill percentage in the league.

11. Victoria Grizzlies

Record: 11-9-0-0 (.550%)

Previous: No. 9

The Grizzlies land outside of the top-10 for the first time this season due to losing their last three games, and six of their last nine. Furthermore, they are just 6-9-0 after winning their first five contests to open the campaign. Victoria is certainly trending in the wrong direction as some other Coastal teams are heating up.

12. Surrey Eagles

Record: 8-9-0-0 (.471%)

Previous: No. 16

Despite still boasting a losing record on the season, Surrey has seen a recent surge in the standings. Since losing four of their first five contests to start the campaign, the Eagles are 7-4-0 and back into the Coastal Conference cluster.

13. Powell River Kings

Record: 7-10-1-0 (.417%)

Previous: No. 12

After stringing together four straight victories, Powell River has once again seen the tables turn, and the Kings have now lost four games in a row. The Kings of inconsistency continue to be the streakiest team in the league, with all of their wins and losses coming in bunches of either three or four.

14. Coquitlam Express

Record: 6-11-1-1 (.368%)

Previous: No. 14

Coquitlam has lost three of its last four games, but the Express have picked up points in four of its last eight while trying to stay afloat in the Coastal Conference. Turning things around defensively would certainly help the Express, which owns the second-most goals against and worst penalty kill percentage in the league.

15. Vernon Vipers

Record: 4-9-3-2 (.361%)

Previous: No. 13

The Vipers just haven’t been able to figure things out yet this season, as they’ve lost six straight games and 12 of their last 13 overall. Playing on the road is a nightmare for Vernon so far this season, which has just one win in 10 tilts away from Kal Tire Place.

16. Wenatchee Wild

Record: 3-9-3-1 (.313%)

Previous: No. 15

Since winning back-to-back games in Vernon on Nov. 5 and 6, Wenatchee has lost seven of its last eight contests — with the lone win coming in Langley against the Coastal Conference-leading Rivermen. The Wild has finally been able to welcome opponents south of the border for home games, but are 0-5-0 at Town Toyota Center against the powerhouses from Salmon Arm and West Kelowna.

17. Cowichan Valley Capitals

Record: 3-16-0-0 (.158%)

Previous: No. 17

Cowichan Valley continues to occupy the Coastal Conference basement in what has been a difficult start to the campaign. Not only have they won just three of their 19 games this year, the Capitals have lost seven straight and nine of their last 10 heading into December.

18. Merritt Centennials

Record: 0-13-1-0 (.036%)

Previous: No. 18

As unfortunate as the on-ice situation is for the Centennials this season, the off-ice disaster they’ve had to deal with is much worse. Extreme flooding forced the entire City of Merritt to be evacuated, and circumstances around that situation led to four Cents games being postponed.

When the Centennials did get back on the ice for their only game in the last two weeks, they travelled to Penticton to play the BCHL’s new No. 1 team. They are not only searching for their first win of the season, but now also for some certainty in their day-to-day lives.