NAHL playoff picture becoming clear
March 10, 2014
The NAHL playoff picture is clearing up and with just three weekends to go in the regular season, many of the races for the four division titles and the four spots in each division have yet to be decided. Here is a look at where things stand in all four divisions of the NAHL to date:
Austin, Aberdeen and Bismarck have secured a playoff spot. There are two big races right now. The first is the fight for the final playoff spot between Minot and Brookings. The Blizzard are six points behind the Minotauros with just six games remaining, however, the last four games of the season are against one another so it could come down to that. The other race is for the top spot in the division with Austin holding a three point lead over the Wings and each team has six games remaining.
Fairbanks secured the Midwest Division title over the weekend and will have home ice advantage in the first two rounds. Their task is to try and finish with the best regular season record in order to keep home ice throughout the playoffs. The Minnesota Wilderness have also clinched a playoff spot and are in good position to finish 2nd. After that, three teams (Wenatchee, Coulee Region and Kenai River) are fighting for two spots. The Wild have just four games left (all at home), but against some tough out-of-division opponents. The Chill have the benefit of eight games remaining, all of which will be against the Minnesota Wilderness or Magicians. The Brown Bears have six games left, four of which are against Fairbanks.
Port Huron became the first team from the division to clinch a playoff spot this past weekend and their division lead stands at a fairly safe seven points. With nine games left, Michigan has a pretty good track on the 2nd spot, but the real race is with the remaining four teams who are fighting for two spots and separated by just five points. Janesville, who is in 4th place, has the most games remaining with eight with half of those games against Michigan. A point ahead of Janesville in 3rd place is Johnstown, who have a dangerous schedule remaining as they face all three clubs below them in the standings. The Soo Eagles are right in the mix as they are two points out of a playoff spot, but five of their seven remaining games are on the road and Springfield is four points out, but their final three games are with Janesville and Soo, which could earn them valuable points if they win.
The South is the most clear of the four division with the top four teams set. Wichita Falls clinched this past weekend and barring a collapse from one of the three teams above them, they will likely be the #4 seed. Rio Grande Valley is nine points ahead of the Wildcats with seven games to go. They are six points behind 2nd place Topeka, but all their remaining games are against non-playoff teams. That bring us to the best race in the South between Amarillo and Topeka for the top spot. Thanks to their sweep in Amarillo last weekend, the RoadRunners are just two points back of the 1st place Bulls with each having eight games remaining. Six of the RoadRunners final eight games are at home, including two with the Bulls. The Bulls have just two home games in their final eight.