By Mike Stackhouse
1-BATTLEFORDS NORTH STARS
While not, mathematicaly, a done deal; they will finish first overall and have home ice advantage for as long as they are still playing.
2-FLIN FLON BOMBERS
For as well as they’ve played, they are in a dogfight with Nipawin for first in the division and the second seed. The Hawks and Bombers play each other three more times and the Bombers have five of their other seven remaining games at home, where they are 18-1-2-and-2. They play La Ronge four more times.
They’ve locked up the third seed for the first round of the playoffs, but they will drop to fourth in the second round (semi-finals) should they make it that far because they are, likely, to have fewer points than both the Hawks and Bombers.
They’ve won twelve in a row, but how many more can they win before suffering a hiccup or two? The schedule isn’t easy with 3 against the Bombers and 2 against the Broncos, who have played well against Nipawin. They also play 2 more against Battlefords and single games against Estevan and Kindersley. A 7-and-4 finish would be a success. Depending on the head to head against the Bombers, that ‘could’ be enough to win the division.
This is, likely, going to be their spot at the end of the season. They could still drop, but they’d need to fumble it away over the final seven games. They do have to play Nipawin twice, Flin Flon once, Battlefords once; and they haven’t been great against the powerhouse teams.
6-WEYBURN RED WINGS
You could make the case that eight of their ten games remaining will come against teams with very little to play for, so that gives them an edge (3 against Melville at end of season, 4 against Estevan, 1 against La Ronge). They have 1 left with Yorkton and beat the Terriers this week in a big game.
7-NOTRE DAME HOUNDS
They’ve been a tough team to figure out for most of the season. They play two against Estevan, two against Melville, and single games at Melfort, Kindersley, and Battlefords. Should Humboldt stumble, the Hounds and Broncos still have two left on the schedule against each other, meaning that Notre Dame could climb into fifth with some help and solid play on their own end.
Four against Melville, two against Kindersley, one against Weyburn, and one against Estevan. They can’t say they aren’t in control of their own destiny.
Four game road trip next week in Melville and Yorkton that will say a lot about where they finish. Their other four games are all at home. They’ve been playing well and may continue that trend right until the end, although a home and home against the Stars in early March could put a damper on things.
A few weeks ago, they appeared to be a shoe-in to get sixth, now they are in danger of being the last playoff seed. They play the Stars and Hawks twice, and then have single games left with Kindersley, Notre Dame, Flin Flon, Humboldt and La Ronge. Melfort has lost seven straight and all of those teams they have to play are in fine form, with the exception of the Ice Wolves.
They can still make the playoffs, but it’s an uphill battle. With twelve games remaining, they need to win, maybe, eight of them (4 against Yorkton, 2 against Kindersley, 2 against Weyburn) to make up some of the serious ground in front of them. A tall order for a team that has won only five times since the first of December.
12-LA RONGE ICE WOLVES
Eliminated from the playoffs.