Thursday, January 29, 2009

NWJHL Playoff Race Heats Up

With all 8 teams in the NWJHL making the playoffs the real race is for positioning and home ice advantage. If the playoffs were to start today here would be the match-ups:

(1) Whitecourt vs (8) Sexsmith

(2) Fort St John vs (7) Slave Lake

(3) Dawson Creek vs (6) Beaverlodge

(4) Peace River vs (5) Grande Prairie

The series that most teams want to avoid is the 4 vs 5 series. The top 5 teams have pretty much been set (unless Beaverlodge runs the table and wins all remaining games) and that 4 vs 5 series looks to be the toughest one thus, making the top 3 positions very valuable.

Here is what we know:

  • Whitecourt will finish in 1st place.

  • Barring some sort of miracle the bottom three positions will not change.

Spots 2 through 5 are wide open. We could possibly see the Wheelers in 2nd place by the time the regular season is over and the schedule works in their favour. The teams with the easiest schedules are probably Dawson Creek and Peace River. The toughest schedule falls on Fort St John.

Here is a look at each team's remaining games:

Fort St John - 41 points and in 2nd place.

A narrow 4-3 victory over Beaverlodge is HUGE at this point in the season, especially with the schedule that the Huskies have. Here is there remaining games:

Friday @ Grande Prairie

Saturday @ Whitecourt

Feb. 7 @ Grande Prairie

Feb. 13 @ Peace River

Feb 14 vs Whitecourt
Feb 15 vs Whitecourt

The schedule makers were rough on Fort St John that's for sure. Three of their last 6 are against the Wolverines and that will no doubt bring up some bad blood. The games with Grande Prairie are make or break. The Huskies need 8 points to clinch 2nd place and are on a roll winning 5 straight.

Dawson Creek - 38 points and in 3rd place

Saturday vs Slave Lake

Feb 7 vs Slave Lake

Feb 8 @ Peace River

Feb 13 vs Grande Prairie

Feb 14 vs Peace River

The Schedule for the Canucks will start off pretty easy with a pair against Slave Lake before the final three games which should be interesting. The advantage for Dawson Creek is 4 of their last 5 are at home.

Peace River - 35 points and in 4th place

Friday @ Beaverlodge

Feb 6 @ Sexsmith

Feb 7 vs Beaverlodge

Feb 8 vs Dawson Creek

Feb 13 vs Fort St John

Feb 14 @ Dawson Creek

Again the final three games for Peace River will be the deciding ones. The playoff race is indeed going to be very close but the Navs will need to turn things around in a hurry.

Grande Prairie - 33 points and in 5th place

Friday vs Fort St John

Feb 5 vs Whitecourt

Feb 7 vs Fort St John

Feb 8 vs Slave Lake

Feb 13 @ Dawson Creek

Feb 14 @ Beaverlodge

At most 2 games can be called slam dunks but for the most part this is a tough schedule for the Wheelers. The good news is they have a good opportunity to control their own fate. If the Wheelers can beat the Huskies twice they'll have a shot at 2nd.


Here's what I'm thinking:

  • The Huskies have it tough.
  • The most important games down the stretch are a pair between Fort St John and Grande Prairie.
  • The Wheelers won't pick up more than 8 points but won't catch FSJ.
  • Peace River will pick up at least 6 points, after that it's wide open.
  • Dawson Creek will pick up at 6 points and no more than 8.
  • The Huskies may pick up 4 points. I think if they do they will hang onto 2nd place.


This weekend will answer a lot of questions and we'll check in on Monday and see what direction things are going.

Head to the rink and enjoy some great NWJHL hockey this weekend!


1 comment:

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