Trail Smoke Eaters fans may not like the outcome, but it was the best the BCHL could do under the current circumstances.
With the BCHL playoffs cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the league partnered with its players and teams to create a simulation of the remainder of the postseason using EA Sports NHL 20.
The video game action features Round 2 games, including Smoke Eaters assistant captain Kent Johnson going up against Salmon Arm Silverbacks goalie Ethan Langenegger.
All Round 1 games were completed on the ice, with the Smoke Eaters eliminating the Prince George Spruce Kings in four straight, and Salmon Arm also sweeping the Victoria Grizzlies.
In all, eight BCHL playoff teams were created in the game, and each club selected a player rep to go head-to-head in an online contest to decide the winner of their would-be series.
“Rather than live-streaming a full series, the league has compiled highlights of the games using calls from the BCHL broadcasters as well as videos submitted by the player reps,” says a news release from league operators.
The two-minute video for the first matchup, between Surrey and Coquitlam, was released Thursday, Mar. 26, with the Eagles pushing the Express to a Game 7, only to lose to the league champions.
The Smoke Eaters played the Silverbacks on Saturday and the unlikely scenario had Langenegger and the Silverbacks win in six games over the second-seed Smoke Eaters.
Cowichan Valley Capitals, Nolan Barrett, took down Josh Kagan and the Nanaimo Clippers in six, and a surprising Trey Taylor led the Vernon Vipers to a Game 7 victory over Conner Hutchison and the top Interior seed Penticton Vees.
Round 3 goes this week with the Interior final seeing the third seed Salmon Arm taking on the fifth seed Vipers, and the Island Division Capitals playing the Mainland Div. champs Coquitlam Express.
“We were looking for a way to keep our fans engaged during this unfortunate downtime and we think this initiative accomplishes just that,” said BCHL Commissioner Chris Hebb.
“By involving our players and our broadcasters in the project and creating our teams in the NHL 20 video game, we’ve tried to make it a fun and unique BCHL experience for everyone to enjoy.”