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BCHL changes playoff format

It’s something has always been a hot button topic for fans of the BCHL – and it’s no different for the teams as well. The league’s Board of Governors has approved a revision to the format for the Fred Page Cup Playoffs, effective this season and unveiled on Friday.

Playoff qualification is primarily division-based, with the top four finishers in the Island and Mainland Divisions, and the top six finishers in the Interior Division, qualifying for the first 14 spots in the Fred Page Cup Playoffs.

“The logic and discussion on the playoff format was based on what’s best for the league from competitive perspective. This was an area that our Board of Governors wanted to clarify and correct before we get to the end of February,” said Jesse Adamson, who holds the title of Coordinator, Content Services for the BCHL.

The two additional playoff spots, designated as Wild Cards, are awarded to the next two highest-placed finishers, ranked based on regular season points and regardless of division. The two teams receiving Wild Cards will participate in the Interior Division playoffs.

Seeding of the Wild Card teams within each divisional playoff is determined by regular season points. The first place finisher with the highest number of regular season points in the Interior Division will be matched against the team with the lowest number of regular season points in the division, including the two teams that crossover from the Mainland and Island Divisions.

The playoffs will proceed on a divisional basis in the Mainland and Island as follows:

#1 vs. #4 / #2 vs. #3 – winners play each other for division championship with the winner of the Island versus Mainland final to face the winner of the Interior Division for the Fred Page Cup.

If the playoffs were to start today, the first round would see:

  • Coquitlam vs. (4) Langley
  • Chilliwack vs. (3) Surrey
  • Cowichan Valley vs. (4) Powell River
  • Nanaimo vs. (3) Alberni Valley
  • Penticton vs. (6) West Kelowna
  • Trail vs. (WC2) Victoria
  • Vernon vs. (WC1) Prince George
  • Salmon Arm vs. Wenatchee

Since the 2010-11 season, the BCHL playoff structure has undergone no fewer than six makeovers, with no format lasting longer than three seasons. Truth be told, the BCHL changing playoff formats is as regular as the tide. Geographic challenges and an imbalanced number of teams in either the league or a division have caused the league’s governors and more recently, competition committee, to try and come up with a format that satiates everyone involved – from fans to players. It’s not an easy task, and I’m willing to bet there has never been a year where all parties involved are pleased with the playoff format.

And the same can likely be said for this year. A first round match up between Trail and Victoria? Makes about as much sense as the Penticton-Cowichan Valley first round series from last year. With Cranbrook set to join the fold for the 2020-21 season, it’s a good bet that the playoff format a year from now will once again look different.