This is the end
My only friend
Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
We’ve come to the end of the regular season, and thanks to the new playoff format, four out of the five teams are still in contention to make the postseason. According to that I’m giving the new playoff format a big old tick and hope that it stays for 2019.
Now let’s break down the scenarios for what could happen and who could be still alive in the chase for the Birgel Cup at the end of the weekend.
If… the West Auckland Admirals grab maximum points in Christchurch and the Skycity Stampede take maximum points in Auckland, or the Admirals get fewer points than the Stampede, the Dunedin Thunder will head to West Auckland for the 2 v 3 playoff while the Stampede gain home ice for the Birgel Cup Finals.
Note: on equal points the Stampede hold the advantage over the Admirals due to a greater goal differential.
If… the Admirals take out maximum points against the Red Devils but the Stampede either let a game against the Swarm go to overtime or lose a game, the Thunder will travel to Queenstown to play the Stampede for the 2 v 3 playoff and the Admirals get home-ice advantage.
If… the Stampede drop both games against the Swarm in regulation and the Admirals gain just one more point than the Stampede, the Swarm will travel to Queenstown to face the Stampede while the Admirals get home-ice. If however the Admirals also gain no points, the Stampede get the advantage of home ice for the Finals and the Admirals will host the Swarm in a crosstown battle for the second finalist spot.
Understand? Did we cover all the bases? Yes. No. Maybe?
Good, it’s going to be an exciting weekend of hockey that could leave you on the edge of your seat or leave you with shorter fingernails…if that’s what you do.
Stampede v Swarm @ Paradice Botany Downs
As mentioned above there’s a lot on the line for both teams so if you’re a hockey fan in Auckland this weekend get your butts out to Botany.
The Stampede are rolling having won eight games in a row, they bring with them two top point scorers in the league in captain Matt Schneider and Mike McRae, and they will be desperate to hold onto that home-ice advantage for the Finals – the Queenstown rink is their fortress and an intimidating place for visiting teams.
Whereas the Swarm’s playoff hopes are on the line, but it won’t be an easy task as they need a weekend sweep over the defending champs to move past the Thunder. If you told Ian Wannamaker and Travis Crickard at the start of the campaign that their team would come into the final weekend with their fate in their own hands needing to win to make the postseason, I’m betting the Swarm coaching staff would be very happy with that prospect.
Admirals v Red Devils @ Alpine Ice
Meanwhile, in the great land of the Canterbury plains, the Admirals will be not only be focused on their own goal of taking both games against the Red Devils, but they’ll also be hoping their Auckland brothers can do them a favour in taking down the Stampede and giving them home ice.
For the Red Devils, the weekend ends a disappointing season and they’d love nothing better than to play spoiler to the Admirals dreams in any way they can, which should serve as enough motivation to give their loyal fans something to really cheer about – not that they need a reason, they love their team unconditionally down there.
NZIHL Round 10 Game Schedule:
Skycity Stampede v Botany Swarm – Paradice Botany Downs, Auckland
Aug 4th at 4:55pm & Aug 5th at 4:40pm
West Auckland Admirals v Canterbury Red Devils – Alpine Ice, Christchurch
Aug 4th & Aug 5th at 4:40pm