The BCHL is down to the final four teams and the semifinals get going Friday night in Chilliwack and Penticton.
Oddly enough, the Chilliwack Chiefs are the only team to pull off an upset to get here as they knocked off the league No. 1 Wenatchee Wild. Yet Chilliwack is the top seed remaining in the playoffs, by virtue of their 88 points in the regular-season standings. That means they’d have home ice advantage the rest of the way.
In the Interior, it’s the top-two seeds with the No. 2 Vernon Vipers visiting the division’s top-ranked Penticton Vees. Both teams had byes through Round 1 and while Vernon showed little rust in getting past the Trail Smoke Eaters in five games, the Vees were pushed by the Merritt Centennials to a seventh game Monday night. Vernon has been idle since March 23 but have already shown they can handle a bit of time off. The Vees have played do-or-die hockey already this week, winning Monday night’s Game 7 at home with a convincing 6-2 result. Penticton knows their season is going to continue either way as they’re hosting the Sun Life Financial Western Canada Cup, but they want to get in the right way – through the front door as Fred Page Cup BCHL champions. Captain Nic Jones showed up in a big way in Game 7 and leads the team with 5-7-12 in seven postseason games.
As for the other semifinal, it’s the Victoria Grizzlies heading to Chilliwack to face the Chiefs. Victoria hasn’t been to the third round of the playoffs since 2014 which was the first year of the double round-robin format. That’s been discontinued this year, setting a ‘Coastal’ semifinal hearkening back to the days of the two-conference alignment. Chilliwack got by Wenatchee in the minimum four games and had been waiting for an opponent until Monday night when Keyvan Mokhtari’s double-OT winner put the Grizzlies past the Powell River Kings. Chilliwack has the current Player of the Week in Kohen Olischefski who mustered five points last week including the series-winning goal over Wenatchee. Victoria has gotten great production from Cole Pickup who has 5-9-14 in 12 playoff games. Victoria’s Matthew Galajda and Chilliwack’s Mark Sinclair are both among the playoff goalie leaders in wins, goals-against average and save percentage.