The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced the playoff format for the 2014 Robertson Cup playoffs, which begins the first week in April. For the first time since 2003, the Robertson Cup National Champion will be determined via a play-down format, which will consist of four separate rounds over the course of six weeks.
“We are excited to be moving to a more traditional playoff format and are eager to see it in action,” said NAHL Commissioner Mark Frankenfeld. “It offers a very competitive atmosphere for the players and teams, and is a pure test of attrition to determine our National Champion. This shift in format enhances the level of excitement for the fans and increases the level of competition for those on the ice that are giving their all to have their names permanently engraved on the Robertson Cup.”
Frankenfeld continued… “At this point in our history we felt like going back to the play-down format was the right thing to do. It provides us with the most exciting, competitive and fair way to determine a champion. We felt that even though our league is ‘National’ in scope and may provide some travel challenges during the playoffs, from a logistics standpoint we are in a good position as a league to meet those challenges to ensure that the integrity of determining a champion remained the focus. Most importantly, all playoff games, including those in the Robertson Cup Finals, will be decided by the traditional game format. There will be no tie-breakers, or round-robins, pools or play-in games. Each game in each series will be played until there is a winner.”
The top four teams from the regular season in each of the NAHL’s four divisions will qualify for the 2014 Robertson Cup Playoffs. The playoffs will consist of four rounds: the Division Semi-Finals (16 teams), the Division Finals (8 teams), the Robertson Cup Semi-Finals (4 teams) and the Robertson Cup Finals (2 teams).
The playoffs are slated for April 3 - May 11, 2014.
The Division Semi-Finals and Division Finals will each be a best of five series with the higher seeded team hosting three of the five games. The Robertson Cup Semi-Finals will consist of the four divisional playoff champions, who will then be re-seeded 1-4, with the #1 seed hosting the #4 seed and the #2 seed hosting the #3 seed in a three game series. The Robertson Cup Finals will feature the two remaining teams playing in a best of three series with the higher seeded team hosting all three games. The first club to win two games in the Robertson Cup Final series will be declared the 2014 NAHL Robertson Cup National Champion.
For the past 10 seasons, the Robertson Cup has been decided via a tournament-style format, where divisional champions would qualify to advance to a host location, where a round-robin format would ensue to determine a champion. The last time the NAHL decided the Robertson Cup Champion via a play-down format was during the 2002-03 season when the league consisted of 11 teams.
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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