By USPHL Staff
In The Playoff Push, we will take a look at the busiest game days’ most integral games in regards to teams clinching playoffs or clinching specific playoff berths, as we head down the stretch toward the start of playoffs in early March.
24 games today
The Las Vegas Thunderbirds clinched a Pacific Division playoff berth after the Lake Tahoe Lakers took a loss on Friday.
The Minnesota Mullets (24 points), Dells Ducks and Isanti Outlaws (23 points) continue their battle for the last two Midwest West playoff berths. The Mullets host the Ducks again today, after Dells won on Friday. Final placement will need to wait a week.
First place (Connecticut Jr. Rangers), seventh place (Jersey Hitmen) and eighth place (Brooklyn Aviators) are all locked up in the Atlantic Division. Many of the spots between second and fifth are seeing close battles. A few weekends remain before we see these teams, including the Hitmen, setting their GPS apps for destinations.
Who can clinch home ice today? A Seattle win vs. Rogue Valley would give Seattle first round home ice.
Ontario has clinched home ice by virtue of the tiebreaker. Fresno and Ontario will host, and Vegas and Bakersfield will travel.
14 games today
Nine of these games are showcase games involving the North American Prep Hockey League affiliate teams – these teams do not participate in the Elite playoffs, but the results of the games they play count toward standings and points counts.
New England will sort itself out soon. A Cyclones win today will lock down first place. The next Islanders Hockey Club win plus a Pics loss will settle second and third respectively. The Junior Bruins will travel in the playoffs to face the top seed, that much is certain already.
Florida is the only Division that hasn’t finalized all of its postseason contenders. Palm Beach and Bold City play today. The result will benefit the Jr. Blades, who face Tampa this morning.
Midwest Elite: Five teams have a 12-point spread from high to low. The top two teams get a bye. Third and fourth get first round home ice. Lots to watch there.