Column: Three team repeat in third round

As Jacob Bestebroer notes in this week's column, familiar foes may return for the next round of the BCHL playoffs.

If you are reading this on Friday, the Chilliwack Chiefs will either have punched their ticket to the third round of the playoffs with a win over the Wenatchee Wild in game five of the BCHL’s Mainland division final on Thursday or they are on the way to Wenatchee for game six tonight.

Should a deciding seventh game be needed it would be back at Prospera Centre in Chilliwack on Saturday.

Keep an eye on the Chiefs website for details on upcoming Chiefs games.

The winner of this series will meet the winners of the Island and Interior divisions in a double round robin round three that will determine two league finalists.

The format for round three has been tweaked after last year’s fiasco.

After the Penticton Vees had qualified for the finals, they still had to play a game in Nanaimo that meant nothing to them but everything to the Chiefs. Chilliwack needed the Vees to win that game to stay alive.

Penticton, understandably, did not play some of their top players against the Clippers and the Chiefs were eliminated from the playoffs while watching the game at home.

In this year’s format, once a team wins three games, they advance to the league finals (and will have home ice advantage) and the remaining two teams will play each other until one of those teams has three wins.

There’s a chance the same three teams will play in the round robin this year.

The Nanaimo Clippers have already qualified, sweeping the Powell River Kings in four straight in the Island division final.

No surprise to see the Clippers there, although I thought the Kings would extend that series to six or seven games.

The Penticton Vees are having a tougher time than anyone expected.

Losers of only seven games during the 58 game regular season, the Vees have lost three of nine playoff games including their last two and will go into the weekend tied at two with West Kelowna in the Interior division final.

Since 1968 17 BCHL teams have finished a regular season with fewer than 10 losses and 10 of those teams have gone on to win the league championship.

That number seems low but two of the teams that failed to win can be explained by seasons where two teams finished with a single digit loss number and obviously only one team can win the championship.

There was actually a third season where two teams, Vernon and Nanaimo finished with nine losses only to see the Surrey Eagles who had lost 18 regular season games win the league championship.

The last two teams to finish with less than 10 regular season losses, the Vees of 2011-12 (four losses) and 2014-15 (nine losses) won the league championship.