It will be a Wild opening round of the B.C. Hockey League playoffs for the Vernon Vipers.
The reigning Interior Conference champions have drawn the Wenatchee Wild for the opening round best-of-seven series that will begin in Washington state. Vernon beat the Wild 4-1 in last year’s Interior Conference final.
The playoff matchup became set after the 476th and final game of the BCHL regular season Sunday in Salmon Arm, where the Silverbacks edged the Merritt Centennials 3-2.
The win gave Salmon Arm (30-23-4-1) the exact same record as Wenatchee, but the Gorillas took third place because they won the season series over the Wild (4-3).
Vernon (30-24-2-2) was relegated to fifth place with the Silverbacks victory, taking away home ice advantage.
The series will start with Games 1 and 2 in Wenatchee Saturday and Sunday before shifting to Kal Tire Place for Games 3 and 4 Tuesday and Wednesday, March 3 and 4.
Game 5, if needed, would be played Friday, March 6, in Wenatchee. Game 6 would be in Vernon on Sunday, March 8, at 2 p.m. if necessary and, if the series should go the distance, Game 7 would be in Wenatchee on Tuesday, March 10.
The Vipers won four of six regular-season meetings with the Wild: Sept. 13, Vernon 1 @ Wenatchee 2; Sept. 14, Vernon 3 @ Wenatchee 2; Dec. 7, Wenatchee 4 @ Vernon 6; Jan. 5, Wenatchee 3 @ Vernon 7; Jan. 29, Wenatchee 3 @ Vernon 4; Feb. 14, Vernon 2 @ Wenatchee 5.
The final day of the regular season was big for the Nanaimo Clippers and Chilliwack Chiefs.
The Clippers slammed hometown Alberni Valley 6-1 to leapfrog the Cowichan Valley Capitals and capture first place in the Island Division. Nanaimo will play Alberni Valley and the Caps meet the Powell River Kings.
The Chiefs blanked the Langley Rivermen 7-0 to move into second place in the Mainland Division, one point ahead of the Surrey Eagles, with Chilliwack now holding home-ice advantage for that series. Langley will play the regular-season champion Coquitlam Express in Round 1.
The Victoria Grizzlies and defending Fred Page Cup champion Prince George Spruce Kings finished fifth in the Island and Mainland Divisions, respectively, and cross-over into the Interior Division.
Because of their point totals, the Grizzlies are seeded sixth and will face the Silverbacks while the Spruce Kings are rated seventh, and have a date with the second-place Trail Smoke Eaters.
The pennant-winning Penticton Vees will travel 30 minutes up Highway 97 to face the West Kelowna Warriors in the opening round.