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Chiefs stagger into playoffs to face arch rival Surrey

With the end of the regular season on Sunday afternoon, the Chilliwack Chiefs staggered into the playoffs, only winning two games in the final month of the season. Their only two wins came against the fifth place Prince George Spruce Kings and the fourth place Langley Rivermen in their season finale.

Out of the two wins during February, Chilliwack’s final victory was a 7-0 rout of the Rivermen to gain some sort of confidence before a massive playoff series against the Chiefs’ long time divisional rival Surrey Eagles.

The Eagles took the season series 6-2. Of the six wins, Surrey had four of them at the South Surrey Arena, which won’t bode well for Chilliwack although the Chiefs will have home ice advantage after their win versus Langley. Chilliwack’s two wins came in October – both at the Chilliwack Coliseum. With Surrey coach Cam Keith in his second season with the Eagles after coming over from Chilliwack, he seems to have the upper hand over former colleague Brian Maloney.

The Chiefs and Eagles have has a storied history of playoff series against each other, some good, some nasty, and some heartbreaking. Their first meeting was in the 1995 playoffs where the powerhouse Chiefs defeated the Eagles 4-2 en route to winning the league title for the first time.

The second meeting was 1997. After the Chiefs beat the Capitals, the Eagles swept Chilliwack 4-0 en route to Surrey’s first championship. They met again in 1998 and it was deja vu as the Eagles knocked off the Chiefs 4-1 on their way to winning their second league title and a national championship.

The Chiefs and Eagles met for the third year in a row in 1999. This time it was in the conference finals and this time, the Chiefs came out on top in seven games. The franchises faced off for the fifth time in 2001 and the Eagles dashed Chilliwack’s playoff hopes with a 4-1 series win.

2002 was the sixth time the teams met in the post-season. The Chiefs were one of the best teams in BCHL history that season, and defeated the Eagles 3-0 in a best-of-five quarterfinal. In 2003, they clashed again in the conference finals and Chilliwack knocked off Surrey in five games. It was the last time the teams met in the playoffs before the Chiefs relocated to Langley.

While in Langley, the Chiefs and Eagles battled three times, with Surrey winning two of the three series.  The next and last time the teams met in the Fred Page Cup playoffs was the Chiefs’ second season back in Chilliwack in . The Eagles won 3-0 on the way to their third BCHL championship.

The Chiefs and Eagles are tied in the all time record at 5-5 during the playoffs. In seven out of the ten meetings, one of the two teams went all the way to the Fred Page Cup final series, winning five league titles, three for Surrey and two for Chilliwack.

With Coquitlam having a tough test against Langley in this year’s first round, one of these two teams could possibly end up in the league final again if history is on their side. One advantage the Eagles do boast is their slightly larger ice surface compared to the NHL regulation surface in Chilliwack. Games one and two are this coming weekend at the Chilliwack Coliseum with games three and four at the South Surrey Arena on Monday and Tuesday.