Tyler Chan of the Vernon Vipers is pinned to the boards by West Kelowna’s Zach Reim while Jayden Price comes in to help during the Warriors’ 4-3 BCHL win Saturday, Dec. 11, at Kal Tire Place. The two rivals face each other in Round 1 of the league playoffs starting Friday in West Kelowna. (Lisa Mazurek - Vernon Vipers Photography)

Tyler Chan of the Vernon Vipers is pinned to the boards by West Kelowna’s Zach Reim while Jayden Price comes in to help during the Warriors’ 4-3 BCHL win Saturday, Dec. 11, at Kal Tire Place. The two rivals face each other in Round 1 of the league playoffs starting Friday in West Kelowna. (Lisa Mazurek - Vernon Vipers Photography)

Eight years between playoff dates for Vernon Vipers, West Kelowna Warriors

Vernon eliminated West Kelowna in six in 2014; best-of-7 conference series starts Friday in West Kel

If you believe in regular-season success, the third-seeded West Kelowna Warriors should have no problems with the sixth-rated Vernon Vipers in the opening round of the B.C. Hockey League playoffs.

If you believe regular-season success means nothing – and, according to nearly 23 per cent of respondents in a league poll, they don’t – then the Vipers are primed to pull an opening-round upset.

The two Highway 97 rivals begin their best-of-seven Interior Conference quarterfinal Friday and Saturday at Royal LePage Place in West Kelowna before the series shifts to Kal Tire Place in Vernon for Games 3 and 4 Monday and Wednesday, April 4 and 6.

In the regular season, the Warriors owned the Vipers. They won four of the five meetings, outscoring Vernon 21-12 and won both meetings in March – part of West Kelowna’s 10-game winning streak heading into the post-season – by scores of 5-2 in Vernon and 6-1 in West Kelowna.

Vernon enters the post-season having won four of its last five, the lone defeat coming at the hands of the Warriors.

The last time the two rivals met in the playoffs was 2014, with the Vipers winning in six. Vernon was the three seed in the Interior that year, West Kelowna was No. 2 in the four-team Interior playoffs. Vernon then knocked off the top-ranked Penticton Vees in seven to advance to the three-team double round-robin with the Coast champion Coquitlam Express and Island Division winners, Victoria Grizzlies.

Vernon and Coquitlam advanced to the final with the Express making quick work of the Vipers, sweeping the Fred Page Cup championship series. The Vipers were the hosts for the Royal Bank Cup Canadian Junior A hockey championships that year. Coquitlam represented the BCHL at the Western Canada Cup but were eliminated and did not return to Vernon.

The BCHL 2022 Fred Page Cup playoffs kick off Thursday in Penticton with the No. 1 Vees hosting the eighth seed Trail Smoke Eaters. The No. 4 Prince George Spruce Kings take on the visiting Cranbrook Bucks (No. 5) Friday. And the No. 2 Salmon Arm Silverbacks entertain the Wenatchee Wild (No. 7) in Game 1 of their series Saturday at the Shaw Centre.

The Coastal Conference series begin Friday with the top-seeded Alberni Valley Bulldogs hosting the eighth-ranked Cowichan Valley Capitals. Chilliwack (No. 2) is at home to Coquitlam (No. 7). The third-seeded Nanaimo Clippers take on the visiting Surrey Eagles (No. 6) and the fourth-ranked Langley Rivermen will be at home against fifth-ranked Victoria.

The league’s Subway Poll Question of the Week on its website is: “Which bottom-three seed is likely to pull off a first-round upset?”

As of Wednesday at noon, 22.35 per cent of respondents believed the Vipers will upset West Kelowna. That’s just slightly lower than the 22.52 per cent who think Trail will knock off Penticton.

If you believe in polls.

READ MORE: West Kelowna Warriors thump Vernon Vipers in first-round playoff preview

READ MORE: West Kelowna Warriors to meet Vernon Vipers in first round of BCHL playoffs

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