Coronavirus: B.C. Hockey League uses online simulation for 2020 playoffs

BCHL 2020 simulated playoffs
The B.C. Hockey League says its simulation games feature calls from team broadcasters, as well as a quick video submitted by one player from each team.

It’s a conundrum: What sports are there to watch?

The simple answer: with all sports leagues having been cancelled because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, there’s nothing on but reruns.

Enter the B.C. Hockey League, which, through fresh, electronic efforts, is trying to solve who this season’s league champion would be.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: BCHL cancels playoff schedule until further notice

“Due to the disappointment felt across the league after the Shaw BCHL playoffs were cancelled, the BCHL has partnered with its players and its teams to create a simulation of the remainder of the postseason using EA Sports NHL 20,” the league said on its website.

The BCHL had just completed its first round of playoffs before the rest of the season was cancelled on March 13 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The eight teams that had advanced to the second round were selected to participate in the online contest.

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The online matchups mirrored the second-round matchups:

  • Trail Smoke Eaters vs Salmon Arm Silverbacks
  • Penticton Vees vs Vernon Vipers
  • Coquitlam Express vs Surrey Eagles
  • Nanaimo Clippers vs Cowichan Valley Capitals
Edmonton Oilers address unprecedented impact of coronavirus pandemic on NHL operations
Edmonton Oilers address unprecedented impact of coronavirus pandemic on NHL operations

Rather than livestreaming a full series, the league said it has compiled highlights of the games using calls from the BCHL broadcasters as well as videos submitted by the player reps.

On Thursday, the BCHL released video of the first series, Coquitlam versus Surrey, with the Express taking the series in seven games and advancing to the third round.

“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.”

READ MORE: 2020 Memorial Cup, CHL playoffs cancelled due to coronavirus pandemic

The BCHL says the remaining second-round games will be published in the coming days, with the third round commencing next week.

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The Nanaimo and Cowichan video will be released Friday, with the Interior matchups being released on the weekend.

In related news, the BCHL asked on its website: If the season wasn’t cancelled, who would have won the 2020 Fred Page Cup?

Trail took top spot with 48.6 per cent of the vote.

WHL players, staff reflect on season being cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic
WHL players, staff reflect on season being cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic

The Smoke Eaters finished second in Interior Division standings with 77 points, 13 behind Penticton (90).

In the first round, the Smokies swept the defending league champion Prince George Spruce Kings.

The Vees had just 6.1 per cent of the vote, while Coquitlam, which finished first overall with 96 points, fared only slightly better with 6.8 per cent.