BCHL Playoff Picture, Williamson Commits to Michigan Tech, Soderberg Commits to West Kelowna, OJHL Awarded World Junior A Challenge, Johansen Voted NHL All-Star MVP:

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. Right now, Chilliwack, Langley, Prince George and Nanaimo have locked up playoff spots. If the regular season ended Sunday, these would be the Division Semifinal match-ups:

(1) Penticton vs. (4) West Kelowna
(2) Vernon vs. (3) Merritt

Penticton – 73 points, 13 games remaining
Vernon – 61 points, 14 games remaining
Merritt – 50 points, 14 games remaining
West Kelowna – 50 points, 11 games remaining
Salmon Arm – 46 points, 13 games remaining
Trail – 33 points, 13 games remaining
(1) Nanaimo vs. (4) Alberni Valley
(2) Powell River vs. (3) Victoria

Nanaimo – 64 points, 13 games remaining
Powell River – 52 points, 12 games remaining
Victoria – 50 points, 12 games remaining
Alberni Valley – 49 points, 15 games remaining
Cowichan – 38 points, 11 games remaining
(1) Chilliwack vs. (4) Coquitlam
(2) Langley vs. (3) Prince George

Chilliwack – 56 points, 13 games remaining
Langley – 55 points, 12 games remaining
Prince George – 48 points, 13 games remaining
Coquitlam – 41 points, 11 games remaining
Surrey – 19 points, 12 games remaining

There’s been nothing official from the Warriors, but reporter Mike Ippolito of the Tewksbury (MA) Town Crier writes here that 18-year-old forward Connor Sodergren has committed to play in West Kelowna next season. Sodergren is in his fourth season of high school hockey with St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire and has already committed to attend Army at the US Military Academy in September 2016. Heading into this season, he had 73 points (31 goals, 42 assists) in 79 career games with St. Paul’s. 
16-year-old Vernon forward Jagger Williamson announced his commitment to Michigan Tech University on Twitter. The Vipers rookie has 21 points (four goals, 17 assists) in 35 games this season. Williamson didn’t announce when he’ll head to the Huskies, but the folks at Over The Boards speculate that it’s September 2017, which gives the Lumby, BC native two more full seasons in the BCHL after this one.

The Ontario Junior Hockey League announced on Friday that the 2015 World Junior A Challenge will be jointly hosted by the Whitby Fury and the Cobourg Cougars. It’s the first time for the tournament to be held in Ontario since it started in 2006. Canada West, which is comprised of players from the BCHL, AJHL, SJHL and MJHL, won gold in 2006, 2007 and 2011. It finished in sixth place this past year. The official release from the OJHL for the 2015 tournament is here.

Forward Ryan Johansen (Penticton, 2008-09) was named MVP of the NHL All-Star Game on Sunday after he posted two goals and two assists in a losing cause as Team Foligno fell 19-12 to Team Toews. Johansen was the hometown favourite as the game was hosted by the Columbus Blue Jackets. The NHL’s write up is here

Goalie Carey Price (Quesnel, 2002-03) and defenseman Duncan Keith (Penticton, 1999-01) joined Johansen as former BCHL players in the game and at the NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft on Friday, all three wound up on Team Foligno. Price started the game and made 12 saves on 16 shots while Keith ended up with one assist and remarkably, was +1.

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