The defending champs are the top seed and have no glaring weaknesses. How good are they? They won only 7 of 12 against the two teams that missed the playoffs. That indicates they are bored and the better the opposition, the better they play (18-6-0-and-2 against Stars, Mils, Broncos, Klippers, Mustangs).
2-BATTLEFORDS NORTH STARS
Their 4-and-12 start camouflaged their 32-5-and-3 finish. Hard to imagine them losing four out of seven when they only lose five of forty. Not that they are overlooking everybody else, but they did go 2-and-2 against the Terriers.
Having the top statistical goalie in the SJHL, and with goalies being the most important factor come playoff time, you just can’t write off the Broncos. Still, worth pointing out they were 10-and-0 against Weyburn and Notre Dame. One game over .500 against the rest of the league.
Tough to give them a ringing endorsement. They were a couple of minutes away from clinching the Kramer Division pennant and let it get away and then lost two in a row to the North Stars. They have a favorable first round match-up, however, against an also struggling team.
Like the Klippers, they faded down the stretch and don’t appear to be as big a factor as their record indicates. They had five straight home games to finish the year and won just two of them, coughing up home ice advantage in the quarter-finals. Both the Klippers and Mils won two of the four head to head games.
They aren’t considered favorites in their series with Humboldt, but their record is deceiving. They were 15-10-and-2 after December 10th and netminder Austin Rediron went 11-and-3. They also split the season series with Humboldt, with each team winning three.
If they win their Survivor Series, they pose an interesting first round partner for the Stars. They have a prolific top line that will test Michael Gudmandson and they also have a good work ethic and play physical, two attributes the Stars are better at that anyone else in the SJHL.
8-NOTRE DAME HOUNDS
They had a decent finish and also won three of four against Nipawin in regular season. However, they won’t have home ice advantage and both the Hounds and Hawks tied for the fewest road wins in the SJHL (8).
9-FLIN FLON BOMBERS
They dealt Buffalo, Blair, Boehm, McCombie, and Williams; yet bought into the plan of their head coach and showed more grit and determination of any Bomber team in recent years to sneak into the playoffs. They’d be a great cinderella story.
They’ve had a few stinkers for games down the stretch, yet boast some high end offensive talent and netminder Joe O’Brien can get hot. They just need to tighten up in front of him a little bit.
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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