Round 2 of the BC Ford Dealers Road to the Fred Page Cup BCHL Playoffs will begin on Friday without the defending champion West Kelowna Warriors. The Warriors were swept by the lower seeded Merritt Centennials in the best-of-seven Interior Division playoff series. While it was heartbreaking to have their season end, there is a silver lining for the West Kelowna franchise as it was announced during Game 1 in West Kelowna that the Warriors were staying West Kelowna and not relocating to North Delta, B.C.
The Warriors have been in West Kelowna since the 2006-07 season and have produced many college players and NHL draft picks including Justin Schultz, Colton Sissons, David Pope and Cam Reid.
“[The] announcement that the Warriors are staying in West Kelowna is great news for the BCHL," said BCHL commissioner John Grisdale. "The league office is excited to work with the restructured ownership group, assist in rolling out their new ideas and continue to support the great fan base in West Kelowna."
In the other Interior Division playoff series, the Trail Smoke Eaters sent the Salmon Arm Silverbacks home with a 4 games to 1 series win. Trail overage defenceman Carter Cochrane led the way with 12 points in the series and finished the first round as the BCHL playoff point leader. Trail will face off against the Vernon Vipers, who had a first round bye per this season’s new playoff format, in Round 2.
The Penticton Vees, who also received a first round bye, will host the Merritt Centennials in the second round. Merritt was led by the goaltending of Jacob Berger, who posted all four wins in the series. The Vees have added highly touted 2019 NHL Draft eligible Massimo Rizzo to their playoff roster. He played in three games with the Vees during the regular season, recording no points.
But he also earned an impressive 78 points in 43 games with the Canadian Sport School Hockey League’s BWC midget prep team this season.
Over in the Island Division playoffs, the Victoria Grizzlies ended the Nanaimo Clippers season in five games with overage forward Cole Pickup leading the way with seven points in five games and goaltender Matthew Galajda standing tall between the pipes. In the other Island Division series, the Powell River Kings swept the Cowichan Valley Capitals and will move on to play Victoria in the second round.
The Mainland Division playoff matchups saw both series go six games. The Langley Rivermen were ousted by the high powered Chilliwack Chiefs, led by Captain Jordan Kawaguchi with 10 points in the 4-2 series. The only American-based team in the BCHL and Boileau Memorial Trophy winners Wenatchee Wild dispatched the Prince George Spruce Kings in six games. The Wild were led by Dartmouth commit Matthew Baker who had 10 points in the six games. The Mainland division finals will feature the top two teams with the best records in the regular season in Wenatchee and Chilliwack with the series opening in Wenatchee.
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