Around the BCHL: Salmon Arm Silverbacks enjoy home ice advantage

Around the BCHL is a look at what’s happening within the league and around the junior A world.

Welcome to the October 30, 2018 edition of Around the BCHL.

Mike Vandekamp has a reputation for coaching tough teams that rack up the penalty minutes, and his new crew seems to be following that path.

In Sunday’s game in Chilliwack, a 3-2 loss, the Caps came out with mayhem on their minds and put themselves shorthanded six times in the first period alone. Calls against them included unsportsmanlike conduct, hooking, boarding, cross-checking and a double-minor for tripping/slew footing.

Cowichan’s Adam Conquest (great name!) has 24 penalty minutes in 13 games this season, which is the sixth highest total on the hard-charging Caps.

Cowichan ended up with 11 power plays against in that game and one of those helped Chilliwack erase a one-goal deficit in the third period.

A league-wide look finds the Caps atop the PIM pile by a substantial margin.

They’ve got 369 minutes in the sin bin. The next most penalized team is the Surrey Eagles with 305. Probably not a coincidence that those two teams are the worst record-wise in the BCHL so far. That’s not to say Vandekamp’s approach can’t work, because it did for many years in other stops. But he doesn’t seem to have a roster that can intimidate opponents, survive the penalties that result and still have the skill to win.

At the other end of the penalty spectrum is Powell River, and again it’s by a wide margin.

The Kings have only been assessed 157 minutes (less than half of Cowichan’s total). The Prince George Spruce Kings are next at 178 PIMs.

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Don’t look now, but Salmon Arm has suddenly become a very difficult place for BCHL teams to play.

The surprising Silverbacks are 8-1-1 at the Shaw Centre this season after dumping the Prince George Spruce Kings by a 2-1 count Sunday night. Their record includes wins over Interior division rivals Penticton, Trail, Vernon, Merritt and West Kelowna and it’s a huge reason why they are second in their division.

Salmon Arm isn’t the only team that’s red hot on home ice.

The Chilliwack Chiefs are 8-1-0-0. Their first loss at Prospera Centre came Friday night as the Victoria Grizzlies skated off with a 4-2 win.

The Coquitlam Express are 8-1-1-0 at the Poirier Arena. After the last few seasons, it’ll take a while for a sentence like that to not seem totally bizarre.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Surrey Eagles are 1-7-0-0 at the South Surrey Arena and the Alberni Valley Bulldogs have struggled to a 2-5-1-0 record at the Weyerhauser Arena, although the Dawgs have won their last two at home.

We’re about a third of the way through the season and the sample size is getting large enough to draw some conclusions.

Teams that are good now are probably going to stay good.

Teams that are bad now have a lot of work to do.

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The Penticton Vees unveiled the name of their new mascot during a weekend home game.

The finalists were Victor, HarVee, Scout or Blue.

And the winner based on an online fan vote was…

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Coquitlam Express forward Chase Danol is on a tear, with goals in six straight games.

The Michigan native lit the lamp Oct. 12 in a home game versus Chilliwack and scored one apiece in games against Nanaimo, Prince George, Prince George again, Penticton and Cowichan Valley. The future Bowling Green Falcon had a five-game goal scoring streak between Sept. 22 and Sept. 30, giving him 11 goals in his last 14 games.

Including this one.

He’s tied with Powel River’s Ben Brar for the longest goal-scoring run this season.

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Sticking with Coquitlam, it’s been a productive week for Express players committing to NCAA schools.

Goalie Kolby Matthews netted a scholarship to the Rochester Institute of Technology and forward Regan Kimens has committed to Merrimack College.

I saw Kimens a lot last season with the Chiefs, although he was rarely in the lineup once the playoffs started.

He flashed signs of offensive ability, including a game last October where he scored three shorthanded goals in a win over Salmon Arm.

Getting a fresh start with Coquitlam has allowed him to unlock his potential.

The Ontario native sits 20th in BCHL scoring with six goals and 19 points in 19 games, matching (points-wise) what he put up with Chilliwack last season.

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First goals are always fun, especially when they’re captured on video.

In an otherwise terrible game for the Surrey Eagles Sunday, 16 year old affiliate player John Evans went hard to the net with his stick on the ice to tap in a feed from Corey Clifton.

Eric Welsh is the sports editor at the Chilliwack Progress and has been covering junior A hockey in B.C. and Alberta since 2003.

Email eric.welsh@theprogress.com

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