It’s been a long time since the battle for first place has been more significant in the NPHL.
When the teams decided on a new playoff format this season at the league meeting Sept. 26, it put in motion the importance of placing first in the West Division.
Simply put, the first place winner in the West receives a bye while the second place and third place teams play a best-of-seven. Afterwards, a crossover occurs. What that means is the West champ will play the lowest seed remaining in the East.
Right now, it is almost certain that will be Manning, Grimshaw or High Prairie. Falher is running away with the East leading by seven points.
Right now, Dawson Creek holds a four-point lead over Grande Prairie and an eight-point lead over Fort St. John. All three teams have eight games left to play.
FSJ has virtually has no chance of placing first. Even if they sweep their last eight games, it gives them 28 points. If DC plays .500 hockey, they end up with 28 points, but any losses means FSJ needs help.
So, it’s up to GP and DC. GP trails by four points, but they do play DC three more times, twice in GP. DC has won two of three meetings this season, including a 6-3 in GP.
If GP wins two of the three games to pull to within two points, it gets interesting. DC has not yet played East powerhouse FAL [they play twice] while GP’s games vs the East are at MAN, home to FAL and at HP. No easy task, but easier than DC’s road.
The bottom line: barring a collapse, DC is certainly in the driver’s seat to place first in the West, play a weaker team in the East in the NPHL Semi-Final, and advance to the NPHL Final.
* Agree or Disagree? E-mail NPHL.com Chris Clegg at statsmanchris@hotmailcom. Your comments may be posted.
* Do you cover a team for the NPHL? Are you a fan? Submit a column for NPHL.com for consideration. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org