The Chilliwack Chiefs hit the 40 win plateau Saturday night, beating the Surrey Eagles 4-1 at Prospera Centre to improve their league-leading record to 40-12-1-0.
They have a crack at two more milestones this week.
A combination of six points in Chiefs wins/ties/overtime losses and Prince George losses will clinch first place overall in the BCHL standings and first in the Mainland division.
The chance to have home-ice advantage throughout the BCHL playoffs is huge.
The Chiefs have the best home-ice record in the league at 20-5-0-0, with a win percentage of .815 at Prospera Centre. Being home for a decisive game seven against PG or Penticton could be the difference between a win or loss.
“I think it was the difference in last year’s first round,” said Chiefs bench boss Brian Maloney. “If we were playing Prince George here instead of there, who knows, it could have been a different story.
“You like your chances playing an elimination game on home ice, no doubt, especially if you factor in travel.”
Home ice isn’t what it used to be when intimidation was a bigger factor in hockey. When Maloney played for the Chiefs, the old Chilliwack Coliseum was a place visiting teams feared.
“I run into guys I played against 20 years ago and they still talk about the Coliseum and how they hated coming here,” Maloney said with a laugh. “And I don’t blame them. I tell them with a grin that I loved playing there.
“But even now in some arenas, home ice is still an advantage and I think for us it definitely is. We have fantastic fans and a great atmosphere at Prospera.
“And going into Prince George or Penticton is still very tough.”
Chilliwack puts an eight game win streak on the line Wednesday when they visit the Salmon Arm Silverbacks (26-21-4-1).
Then it’s back to back home games Saturday against Nanaimo (25-27-1-0) and Sunday against PG (35-12-1-5).
The Chiefs could be in position to wrap up the league and division against the Spruce Kings if they get wins in those first two games.
They might already have it in the bag if they beat Salmon Arm and Nanaimo and PG loses a Thursday night home game versus West Kelowna.