The Chilliwack pod has officially come to a close between the Chilliwack Chiefs, Prince George Spruce Kings, and Merritt Centennials from the Chilliwack Coliseum. This was the closest pod at the end with the final game determining the winner of the group.
The Chiefs, Spruce Kings, and Centennials put on a show for all the cutouts in the crowd – from fans of all three teams to Chiefs alumni from all generations.
The pod started with Merritt’s bus breaking down on its way to play the Chiefs in the first game. Chilliwack jumped out to a quick 4-1 start after five games. The Spruce Kings started with a respectable 3-2 start including an 11-2 drubbing of the Cents. Merritt started slowly with a 1-4 record. Things started to get tighter as the teams became familiar with their opponents.
Chilliwack lost two close games 5-3 to PG and 5-4 to Merritt before rattling off three straight. The Chiefs finished off the month of April with a 10-6 record.
Prince George found some comfort at the Coliseum as the Spruce Kings went 2-3 through the middle of April before running the table and ending the month with a six-game win streak to sew up first place in the pod with an 11-3-0-1 record.
Merritt struggled in the pod. After the Centennials 1-4 start, they beat the Chiefs 5-4 before going on an eight-game losing streak to the end of April. As the calendar flipped to May, the Cents were at the bottom of the group with a 2-13 record.
The new month wasn’t any better for the Centennials. After breaking their eight-game losing streak with a 6-5 come-from-behind win over the Spruce Kings, Merritt lost the next five and ended its season with a close 4-3 loss to the Chiefs.
After losing to PG 7-3 to end April, Chilliwack won three straight to get it back into striking distance of first place. The Chiefs entered the final game of the pod one point back of the Spruce Kings.
Prince George extended its winning streak to seven to start the final stretch. The Spruce Kings streak was broken by the Chiefs with a 3-0 loss to the host team. PG beat Merritt two games in a row by a combined score of 8-1 to set up the last game for the top spot.
Another chapter in the Chiefs vs. Spruce Kings rivalry
Chilliwack and Prince George have had a lot of meaningful games over the last nine seasons against each other in the same division. The last was the 2019 Mainland Division final when the Spruce Kings swept the Chiefs en route to becoming Fred Page Cup and Doyle Cup champions, and National Championship finalists.
Prince George wasn’t playing around in the season finale, jumping out quickly with Christian Buono grabbing his 14th of the season at 2:54 of the first. Tanner Main got his first goal from Buono and Josh Herrington later in the opening frame. The Spruce Kings made it 3-0 with Kilian McGregor-Bennett getting his first goal of the season at 11:26. The Chiefs got one back from Abram Wiebe late in the first.
Prince George regained a three-goal lead when Herrington notched his sixth of the pod season. Chilliwack got one back when Sasha Teleguine scored his fourth but that was as far as the Chiefs got as Prince George won 4-2 and became Chilliwack pod champions.
The BCHL handed out awards for each of the five pods. I’ll give out my pod awards similar to the ones handed out at international competitions.
Chilliwack Chiefs top three players
- played in 19 of 20 games and put up 11 goals and 10 assists for 21 points. Bowen had two game-winning goals and 18 penalty minutes.
- played all 20 games for the Chiefs and put up four goals and eight assists. Munro had three power-play goals and one game-winning goal. He was named pod top defensemen by the BCHL.
- started 17 games for the Chiefs with 11 wins and six losses. Caron had three shutouts with a 2.75 goals-against-average and a .901 save percentage.
Prince George Spruce Kings top three players
- led the Spruce Kings defense with four goals and 15 assists. In my opinion, Waite was the best defenseman in the pod behind Munro.
- the best goalie in the pod. With Jordan Fairlie, the two combined for 13 wins and five losses. Trotter had a 1.67 goals-against-average and a .934 save percentage. Trotter was named pod top goaltender by the BCHL.
- led the Spruce Kings in scoring with 14 goals and 13 assists. Five of his 14 goals came on the power play and three were shorthanded. Buono also had three game-winning goals and was named Chilliwack pod most valuable player by the BCHL.
Merritt Centennials top three players
- was tops on the Centennials with six goals and five assists tied in points with Walker Erickson, who had five goals and six assists.
- led the Cents defense with four goals and six assists. Zakall was one of the most sportsmanlike players in the pod, only receiving two penalty minutes through 20 games.
- kept the Centennials in all of their games in the pod with some fantastic highlight-reel saves. Dias only won two games for the Cents and had a 4.07 goals-against-average and a .892 save percentage. If it wasn’t for Dias it might have been worse for the Centennials.
Chilliwack pod all-star team
G: Mathieu Caron, Chilliwack Chiefs
D: Mason Waite, Prince George Spruce Kings
D: Jackson Munro, Chilliwack Chiefs
F: Christian Buono, Prince George Spruce Kings
F: Ethan Bowen, Chilliwack Chiefs
F: Kyle Penney, Chilliwack Chiefs
Chilliwack pod all-rookie team
G: Aaron Trotter, Prince George Spruce Kings
D: Abram Wiebe, Chilliwack Chiefs
D: Connor Elliott, Prince George Spruce Kings
F: Sasha Teleguine, Chilliwack Chiefs
F: Josh Herrington, Prince George Spruce Kings
F: Nick Rheaume, Prince George Spruce Kings