With only 38 days until the 2014-15 BCHL regular season ends, the playoff picture is already taking shape. Once again this season, the BCHL is going with a playoff format which sees best-of-seven playoff series in Rounds One (Division Semifinals) and Two (Division Finals), a three-team round robin in Round Three designed to eliminate one team and then a best-of-seven Fred Page Cup final between the two teams surviving Round Three.
The top four teams from each division make the post-season, meaning that only four of the BCHL’s 12 teams get in. If the regular season ended Wednesday, these would be the Division Semifinal match-ups:
(1) Penticton vs. (4) West Kelowna
(2) Vernon vs. (3) Merritt
Penticton – 71 points
Vernon – 59 points
Merritt – 50 points
West Kelowna – 49 points
Salmon Arm and Trail aren’t officially eliminated from the playoff picture, in fact, the SilverBacks are just five points behind the Warriors with two games in hand. The uphill climb is much more difficult for the Smoke Eaters, who are 17 points back of West Kelowna with only 16 games remaining.
(1) Nanaimo vs. (4) Alberni Valley
(2) Powell River vs. (3) Victoria
Nanaimo – 60 points
Powell River – 50 points
Victoria – 48 points
Alberni Valley – 45 points
Cowichan isn’t out of contention as the Capitals are eight points back of the Bulldogs. However, the Caps only have 13 games remaining and AV has four games in hand. First place looks like the Clippers to lose, but determining the second team to receive home ice advantage could go down to the wire between the Kings and Grizzlies.
(1) Langley vs. (4) Coquitlam
(2) Chilliwack vs. (3) Prince George
Langley – 53 points
Chilliwack – 52 points
Prince George – 44 points
Coquitlam – 37 points
The Rivermen and Chiefs are the first two BCHL teams to clinch a playoff spot as it is mathematically for either of them to finish worse than fourth in the Mainland Division. Surrey isn’t officially out of the picture, but riding a seven game losing skid and facing a 20 point gap between itself and the Express is daunting for sure. Obviously, whichever team ends up meeting PG is looking a much more grueling travel schedule than the other series.
19-year-old Langley Rivermen defenseman Jacob Kearley has committed to the University of Vermont for this September. The Newmarket, Ontario product has 25 points (six goals, 19 assists) in 41 games with the Riv this season. He posted 26 points (six goals, 20 assists) in 57 games with Victoria last season before being traded in the off-season to Langley.
Defenseman Brandon Manning (Prince George, 2007-08) has been assigned to LeHigh Valley of the AHL by the Philadelphia Flyers. Manning has one assist in three games with Philly this season. He’s added 25 points (nine goals, 16 assists) in 36 games with the Phantoms.