Playoff Format

Welcome back North Stars fans! I hope you all had a wonderful and safe holiday season. It’s good to be back in Saskatchewan after a great couple weeks back home in BC. While I was away I spent most of my time with family and didn’t do much in terms of keeping up with the sports world.

I do want to say congrats to the AAA Stars on their performance at the Mac’s Tournament in Calgary. They didn’t make the quarterfinals, in part because of being in a tough group and some bad luck, but they performed well while missing one of their top players.

Spencer Bast wasn’t in Calgary because he was with Team West at the World Under 17 Championships. Kevin Hasselberg was an assistant coach with that team and although they missed the knockout rounds I am sure it was a great experience. Congratulations go out to coach Hasselberg and to Spencer for being selected to represent Team West.

One thing I did notice while I was away in terms of the SJHL is a post on the league’s website about playoffs. So it seems that I have been misleading North Stars fans in regards to the SJHL’s playoff format. Not intentionally of course but I thought now would be as good a time as any to clear things up.

I went back and looked up a Leader-Post article about the playoffs and you can find that article here: http://www.leaderpost.com/sports/SJHL+brings+divisions+playoffs/8925885/story.html

I was under the impression that the top two teams in each division would be seeded 1-6 and then the rest would fight it out for spots in the survivor series. Well it turns out that’s not the case.

Brandon Crowe from the Melfort Mustangs forwarded this memo to me and I will post it for you to read:

************************

Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League 13-14 Playoffs will be as follows:

Teams 11-12 are eliminated from further play.

Division Leaders will be seated based on points:
1-2-3

The remaining teams will be seated based on total points.

4-5-6-7-8-9-10

Teams 7-8-9-10 will meet in the Wild Card series.

Team 7  home ice vs 10

Team 8  home ice vs 9

Best of 5 series

 Winning teams will then be seated 7-8 according to their point totals.

2nd Round of Playoffs will be best of 7 series

1 vs 8

2 vs 7

3 vs 6

4 vs 5

3rd Round of Playoffs will be best of 7 series

_ vs _

_vs _

League Final best of 7 series

_ vs _

************************

With a 3 division alignment, finding the right playoff format must have been tough. I like the actual format better. A team like the Stars, or Estevan, shouldn’t be penalized if they finish third in a very tough division. It’s possible, but maybe not likely, that the Stars and Bruins could finish with more points than the division winner in the Sherwood.

By seeding division winners you give value to divisional games. By ranking the rest of the league based on points you eliminate some of the risk that a bad team could, by enjoying the luck of an easier division, be seeded higher than a more deserving team.

In the end this helps the North Stars as they no longer need to finish second in their division to avoid a survivor series which was the impression I was under. It doesn’t change much in terms of trying to finish second, or even first, in the Kramer because you always want to win every game and accumulate as many points as possible. But for me as I keep an eye on the standings I will be looking to see where the Stars are in the overall league table just as much as I will be keeping an eye on the Kramer Division.

By the way, right now the Stars would be in 7th. Humboldt, Yorkton and Nipawin would be seeded 1-3 by virtue of their division leads. Kindersley Melville and Estevan would be the next highest seeds 4-6 by virtue of their point totals. The Stars would be the 7th seed and would play in a survivor series with home ice advantage. But with plenty of games left and with every team having played varying numbers of games there is still a lot left to be decided and it’s not going to get any less interesting.

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