The Vernon Vipers will face the Salmon Arm Silverbacks in the first round of the B.C. Hockey League playoffs.
The best-of-seven series starts Friday at Kal Tire Place.
The Vipers officially finished second in the Interior Division Saturday, following an 8-3 dismantling of the fourth-place Trail Smoke Eaters in both teams’ final regular season games.
The Penticton Vees clinched first spot, and tops overall in the league, with a 5-1 win at home over the Wenatchee Wild, who finish third in the division.
Salmon Arm wrapped up the regular season Sunday in Penticton, it’s fifth game in four-and-a-half days. The Silverbacks were relegated to seventh place Friday when the Merritt Centennials picked up a point in an overtime loss at home to West Kelowna.
Vernon led 2-0 and 5-2 by periods Saturday, going 3-for-6 with the man advantage.
Brett Stapley scored three times, giving him a team-high 27 goals. He finished 27-32-59, two points behind team scoring leader Jimmy Lambert, who had 1+3 against Trail (finished with 23 goals).
Jesse Lansdell, Niko Karamanis, Mitch Andres and Keyvan Mokhtari had the other goals for the Vipers, who received a 19-save performance from Anthony Yamnitsky.
Daine Dubois, Andre Ghantous and Levi Glassman scored for Trail. Tanner Marshall took the loss, making 38 saves. Vernon’s Blaine Caton was held off the Smokies’ scoresheet.
The Vees will take on the Coquitlam Express in the first round of the playoffs. The Express finished fifth in the Mainland Division and, with 16 of 17 teams making the post-season, cross over to the Interior to become the division’s eighth seed. Coquitlam and Merritt are wild card entries into the post-season.
Wenatchee will take on Merritt and the Smoke Eaters face the West Kelowna Warriors in the other Interior Division first-round matchups.
The final day Sunday will determine the Island Division champion and the Mainland Division matchups. Surrey Eagles visit the Victoria Grizzlies and the Powell River Kings are in Port Alberni to face the Alberni Valley Bulldogs.
The Grizzlies need only a point to clinch the Island. Victoria is tied with Nanaimo with 70 pts, each team two points ahead of Powell River. The Bulldogs will finish fourth and play the division champion.
Surrey is two points behind Langley in the battle for second place in the Mainland Division. The pennant-winning Prince George Spruce Kings will host the Royal Bank Cup-hosting Chilliwack Chiefs in the opening round.
The only team not to make the post-season is the Cowichan Valley Capitals.