Three teams in round-robin dogfight

There are three teams standing in the BCHL playoffs, and two will survive round three and move on to the league final.

The BCHL playoffs are into the third round, with a new format on display.

Three teams are left. The Coquitlam Express emerged as Mainland division champions, upsetting the Langley Rivermen in a six-game second round series.

The Vernon Vipers claimed the Interior division crown with a seven game win over the Penticton Vees. The Victoria Grizzlies vanquished the Powell River Kings in six games in the Island division final.

The three are now locked in a round-robin series, with each team playing two home games.

The Vipers beat the Grizzlies 5-4 in Victoria March 28 and bombed the Express 6-1 at home March 30.

Those results make Vernon a strong bet to be in the best of seven BCHL final that starts April 11.

The Grizzlies beat the Express 6-3 Tuesday night, giving them a leg up in the battle for the other spot.

The final round-robin games have Coquitlam visiting Victoria Thursday and Victoria visiting Vernon Saturday.

If necessary, Vernon will visit Coquitlam next Monday.

If two or more teams share the same record after the six round-robin games are completed, tie-breakers kick in.

The playoffs utilize the same tie-breakers as the regular season. From the BCHL website; the following tiebreakers are applied in order to determine the standings when two teams have an even number of points: Most wins, most points acquired in games played between tied teams, superior goal differential from games played between tied teams and superior goal differential from overall games played.

As a last resort, an extra tie-breaker game would be played to determine who advances.

The BCHL champion will be decided no later than April 20, with that team moving on to the Western Canada Cup. Taking place April 26 to May 4 in Dauphin, Manitoba, the WCC pits the BCHL champ against the top dogs from the Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba junior A hockey leagues.

The national championship, the 2014 Royal Bank Cup tournament, will be played in Vernon starting May 10.