OK, I've decided to try and figure out what the Cents magic number is to finish fifth in the Interior Conference. I used a formula from this blog for the Mahoning Valley Phantoms of the NAHL.
Basically, it breaks down like this... the Centennials have a potential to reach 60 points if they win all of their remaining nine games, while Quesnel has the potential to reach 58 points if they win all of their games. Which means that Merritt's magic number to clinch fifth in the Interior is 17. So you can see how close things are. Every point the Cents get and every point Quesnel fails to get would knock off one from that magic number.
The Cents magic number against Trail is 14 and against Prince George is eight. With still only nine points separating fifth and eighth, the final three weeks of the BCHL season is going to be VERY interesting to watch as these four teams battle for just three playoff spots.
Although Merritt has a difficult schedule down the stretch, the one advantage that the Centennials have over Quesnel especially is that five of their last nine games are on home ice. Only Vernon, Penticton and Westside have more home wins this season than Merritt, which is tied with Salmon Arm with 14. The Cents make trips to Salmon Arm, Vernon and Penticton, but their record against the top four teams in the Interior is far and away the best of the three teams below them. In fact, Merritt has more wins against the Interior Conference top four than Quesnel, Trail and Prince George combined. So there's no reason to write those five games against the top four off as losses automatically.
Quesnel doesn't play anyone but Williams Lake and Coastal Conference teams for the rest of the season. So don't be alarmed if you hear Cents fans cheering for Nanaimo, Cowichan, Alberni, Victoria and Burnaby in upcoming games against the Millionaires.
Trail's schedule is very similar to Merritt's in that they have six games against the top four, but the Smoke Eaters have lost six of their last seven, including five in a row. The nice part for Trail about its schedule is that it plays six games at the Cominco Arena, where the Smokies are just one game under .500 on the season.