This is the first and last time you’ll be asked to feel bad for Wenatchee, but the Wild deserve your sympathy.
The reward for the team that beat out the Chilliwack Chiefs for top spot in the BCHL’s Mainland division was to get the worst travel matchup possible.
The league’s southernmost franchise faced the Prince George Spruce Kings, the BCHL’s northern outpost located 990 miles from home.
Why the BCHL keeps PG in the division is a mystery on par with the origins of Stonehenge and the fate of Atlantis.
But while the Chiefs covered a mere 256 kilometres in a six game series win over Langley, the Wild traveled 1980 clicks to wipe out the Sprucies.
No one else who survived the first round is even remotely close (see graphic).
While Chilliwack had only to make three quick jaunts up the freeway to play the Rivermen, they now get smacked by the travel stick.
Just one round trip from here to Wenatchee is a hefty 726 kilometres.
“We talked with them (the Wild) about what format we’d like to do to manage our travel,” said Chiefs GM and head coach Jason Tatarnic. “We agreed on 2-3-2 where there’s a travel day in between games.
“So we’ll leave Thursday morning and get there at a decent time so the guys can get their legs moving and get into a routine for the next day.
“We’ll have our pre-game skate Friday morning and play Friday and Saturday.”
The best-case scenario for Tatarnic’s team would be to win quick and avoid a second run to Wenatchee.
More likely, this series goes six or seven games.
The winner moves on to face the Island division champion (either Powell River or Victoria) and another round of challenging travel.
Meanwhile, the Interior conference favourite Penticton Vees have yet to even board a bus after enjoying a first round bye.
After hosting Merritt in games one and two at the South Okanagan Events Centre, the heavily favoured Vees will endure a two hour bus ride to Centennial land for games three and four and probably end the series without having to go back.
It’s an even easier journey to face their next playoff foe. If things go as expected, Penticton will face a Vernon Vipers team that is just 113 kilometres away.
“Travel is there,” Tatarnic reasoned. “It’s an evil that’s always present. You’ve just go to deal with it the best you can and get through it.”
“Proper travel days is key. Proper food. Proper rest. All that stuff comes into play as you manage it the best you can.”