Western Hockey League radio broadcasters were asked to predict the order of finish in the Western and Eastern Conference this season. Fortunately, Western Conference broadcasters were responsible for predicting only the conference they cover. The results can be found on several blogs (www.jonkeen.blogspot.com), so I won't bore you with posting the same info. The goal of this blog is not to be a repeat offender by providing information that others have sufficiently covered. Here are my prediction though on how I see things finishing in the BC Division.
#1 - Kamloops. With as many returning players as the Blazers have this season, you have to think they will generate enough goals to win more than their fair share of hockey games. Some criticize their goaltending, yet two returning veterans isn't a bad option. Even if the goaltenders allow the odd softy, they should more than score enough at the other end of the ice.
#2) Vancouver. Work ethic alone wins hockey games against more skilled teams. The defensive core is questionable after several key personnel losses back there but they still have ample fire power up front. They have one more thing going for them. Don Hay.
#3) Kelowna. I am picking the Rockets 3rd in the BC Division, but that could be higher if Tyler Myers and Colin Long return. The Rockets lose just one d-man from the blue line (Tysen Dowzak) if Myers does return from Buffalo. Lucas Bloodoff, Kyle St. Denis and Brandon McMillan will need to have career years offensively with the loss of some significant fire power at the forward ranks.
#4) Prince George. Dean Clark is going to wonder some nights if he indeed made the right decision to sign a five year deal with the Cougars, but he has a good group to work with. Brett Connolly, if healthy, will have to be lights out again this season. A sophomore jinx could put the Cougars into 5th place in the division. For my money Connolly is just too good to stumble in year two.
#5) Chilliwack. Marc Habscheid is a solid coach and if anyone can turns this team around, he can. The question is can Habscheid instill a work ethic in Chilliwack like we saw with the teams he had in Kelowna? If so, teams are in trouble. While I like the Bruins goaltending, they appear to be a bit thin at forward to score enough goals. Ryan Howse will have to be huge this season. Habscheid led the Rockets to a Memorial Cup in 2004 with a defense first philosophy and it will be that game plan that will produce W's for the Bruins this season. While I predict Chilliwack finishing 5th in the division, they will make the playoffs.
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