Vernon Vipers, Express to play in BCHL final; no-round robin game Saturday

Coquitlam beats Victoria 4-3 in 3OT Thursday to end semi-final round-robin

The Vernon Vipers and Coquitlam Express ­- two teams who finished in third place in the regular season in their respective divisions – will play for the B.C. Hockey League’s Fred Page Cup.

Both teams advanced to the league final Thursday night when the Express knocked off the top-seeded Victoria Grizzlies 4-3 in triple overtime in Victoria in what would be the last game of the semi-final round-robin event.

Coquitlam’s victory gave them a record of 2-1 through three games and eliminated Victoria, who were 0-3. The Vipers were 2-0 after taking their first two games.

The Express win means Saturday’s scheduled round-robin game at Kal Tire Place between the Vipers and Grizzlies, and Monday’s game in Coquitlam between Vernon and the Express, will not be played now because the Grizzlies can’t catch the Vipers and Coquitlam in terms of points.

The win Thursday by the third-seeded Express means the Vipers, who were seeded second for the round-robin, will have home ice advantage for the league final, which begins with games one and two Friday, April 11, and Saturday, April 12, at Kal Tire Place (those with tickets for Saturday’s scheduled game can now use them for game one of the final).

Daniell Lange, on one of the few shifts he received in overtime, was the hero for Coquitlam Thursday. He deflected home a Marc Biega wrister at 6:51 of the third overtime period to win it for the Express.

In the first OT session, Coquitlam killed a five-minute Grizz power play and Victoria’s Alec Dillon stopped Express forward Canon Pieper on a penalty shot as well.

Coquitlam tied the game with exactly one minute left in regulation time on a goal by Ryan Rosenthal.

The Fitzgerald triplets – Gerry, Myles and Leo, playing what would be their final Junior A game – scored for the Grizzlies.

Vernon and Coquitlam split their two regular-season meetings, each team winning at home. The Vipers whipped the Express 6-1 March 30 at Kal Tire Place in their second game of the semi-final round robin.

The winner of the Fred Page Cup will advance to the Western Canada Cup in Dauphin, Man. starting April 20 with the winners of the Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba leagues, along with the host Dauphin Kings. The top two teams from that tournament advance to the Royal Bank Cup Canadian tournament May 10 to18 at Kal Tire Place.