February may be peak sports in the Tri-Cities.
The Coquitlam Express have already clinched a spot in the BC Hockey League playoffs, but they’ll be using the last 10 regular season games they play in the month to solidify their third-place standing in the Mainland division.
High school basketball season also enters its post-season playdowns en route to provincial championship tournaments in March in Langley.
And a Canadian Olympian will be trying to rebound from her disappointing performance at the Canadian national figure skating championships to earn a spot amongst the three women eligible to represent Canada at the world championship in Japan in April.
Here’s some of the month’s sporting highlights:
• The Coquitlam Express kick off the month with a pair of games against divisional rivals that could go a long way in determining where the team will finish in the standings.
On Friday, the Express host the leaders of the Mainland division, the Chilliwack Chiefs, at the Poirier Sports and Leisure Complex at 7 p.m. The Express have won four of the teams’ seven games against each other so far this season, including a 10-5 victory on home ice last Dec. 14.
But the team’s biggest test may come the next night, when the Express close out their regular season series against the Langley Rivermen at the George Preston Arena.
Heading into their game against Chilliwack on Wednesday, the fourth-place Rivermen have won seven in a row and climbed to within five points of the Express. Langley has beaten Coquitlam four times already this season, and lost only once.
The Express play their final home games of the season Feb. 8, against Prince George, and Feb. 10, when the Wenatchee Wild visit for a 3 p.m. game. The team closes out its schedule with four straight games on the road.
• The boys’ AAAA high school basketball playoffs begin Feb. 5 with elimination games.
The Terry Fox Ravens clinched top spot in the Fraser Valley North with a convincing 92-55 win Tuesday over previously-undefeated Centennial on Tuesday.
Whether the Ravens, who are ranked second in the province, finish their regular season undefeated will be determined tonight (Thursday) when they play the last-place Gleneagle Talons.
The Ravens will open their march to a possible place at the BC provincial championship on Thurday, Feb. 7 at 5 p.m. at Terry Fox.
• The senior girls’ AAA basketball season wraps up Feb. 8. And Fraser Valley North has lived up to its pre-season billing as being one of the province’s most competitive, with three teams ranked amongst the best.
The third-ranked Riverside Rapids will conclude its regular season schedule Feb. 7 with a game against the Centennial Centaurs, who received an honourable mention in the latest provincial rankings.
Sixth-ranked Heritage Woods Kodiaks will play Dr. Charles Best that same night, then finish up against the Terry Fox Ravens the next night at Heritage Woods.
The BC girls AAA championship begins Feb. 28 at the Langley Events Centre. This will be the last season Tri-City teams compete for a AAA title, as they’ll all move up to the new 4A tier beginning next season.
• Coquitlam Olympian Larkyn Austman gets another chance to skate her way to the world figure skating championships in Japan when she competes at the International Skating Union Four Continents Championship in Anaheim, Calif. that begins with the ladies short program on Feb. 7.
Austman finished a disappointing fourth at the recent Canadian nationals in Saint John, N.B., but Skate Canada decided to keep two of the three spots for Canadian women at the world championship in Japan open. The results of Canadian skaters competing in Anaheim, including the new national champion Alaine Chartrand, as well as Véronik Mallet, who finished third in Saint John, could determine who fills those spots.
• Also, keep an eye on the Simon Fraser University Clan women’s basketball team, which will be making a drive for the Great Northwest Athletic Conference playoffs that begin March 7. The Clan, with two locals on the court, Riverside secondary grad Ozioma Nwabuko and Coquitlam’s Kendal Sands, are coming off a huge upset of previously unbeaten Northwest Nazarene last Saturday at SFU.
The Clan, currently in third place in the conference standings, play home games on Feb. 2, 14 and 16 as well as six road games before concluding their regular season schedule on March 2.
• The Western Lacrosse Association holds its annual draft on Thursday, Feb. 7. The Coquitlam Adanacs have the first overall selection, and they're not expected to look too far as to who that will be. The coveted prize of the annual selection of top junior players is goaltender Christian Del Bianco, who led the Jr. Adanacs to a Minto Cup last season and is also tending net for the Calgary Roughnecks of the National Lacrosse League.
Junior Adanacs' two-way player Ryland Rees is also expected to go quickly in the first round.