The VIJHL has changed its playoff format slightly this year, which may or may not have an effect on who the Campbell River Storm meet in round one of the playoffs, which are set to begin next week.
Under the old playoff setup, after the regular season concluded, the 8th and 9th place teams would play a single-game knockout game, called the Wildcard, to determine which team would be awarded the fourth seed in the North Division playoffs. The divisions would then play 1 v 4 and 2 v 3 playoff bracket with the eventual division winners meeting in the championship.
This year, however, the top eight teams league-wide will be ranked accordingly and play a straight bracket with the first place team meeting the eighth place team, second playing seventh, third playing sixth and fourth playing fifth.
The Storm have one game left in their regular season as they take on the Comox Valley Glacier Kings tonight at Rod Brind’Amour Arena. If they win that game, they clinch first place overall and would take on the 8th place team in the league, which as of the writing of this story is still up in the air.
The Glacier Kings were eliminated from the playoffs long ago, meaning the rest of the teams in the league will have a quarterfinal series, but just who will be playing whom will need the weekend to sort out, as the Victoria Cougars, Westshore Wolves, Kerry Park Islanders, Peninsula Panthers and Oceanside Generals are all playing either Friday or Saturday night. With just a few points separating those teams, the playoff bracket will likely not be set before the final buzzer of the final game rings out on Saturday night.
It looks as though the regular season scoring leaders, however have likely been determined. It will be difficult for anyone to catch Westshore’s Cameron Coutre, who currently sits six points up on the Storm’s Darren Hards for the league lead in points. The Storm will likely end the season with the top goaltender, however, with Liam Murphy going into tonight’s game against Comox with a stellar 1.58 Goals Against Average and a save percentage of .935 – both good enough for top spot in those respective columns.