NA3HL Division Finals Preview
March 24, 2016
The NA3HL Silver Cup Playoffs continue this weekend with the Division Finals. All games are a best of three series.
As a refresher, the champions of this weekend’s six division finals series automatically qualify for the Silver Cup Championship to be held from March 30-April 3 at Canlan Ice Sports in Romeoville, Illinois.
At the conclusion of the Division Finals, the six teams that lost Division Final series shall be ranked from 1-6 based on their regular season point totals. The regular season tiebreaking procedures will be used if necessary. The two top ranked teams shall be declared the Silver Cup Wild Card teams and shall advance onto the Silver Cup Championship Tournament as the seventh and eighth seeds, respectively.
The action this weekend begins on Thursday, March 24th and potentially could continue through Sunday, March 27th.
#1 North Iowa Bulls vs. #2 La Crosse Freeze – Both teams swept their way into the Division Finals, but the Bulls have been totally dominant from start to finish. They swept their season series against the Freeze this year, 4-0 and outscored the Freeze in the process, 20-4 in the four games. If there is a silver lining for La Crosse, it is that North Iowa has already clinched a spot in the Silver Cup, thanks to being the #1 overall seed. So even if the Bulls were to lose the Division Finals, they would be one of the two top wildcard teams. However, don’t expect the Bulls to take the series lightly as they would like to continue their string of divisional playoff titles.
Game 1: Friday, March 25 @ North Iowa
Game 2: Saturday, March 26 @ La Crosse
Game 3: Sunday, March 27 @ North Iowa*
* if necessary
#1 Metro Jets vs. #3 West Michigan Wolves – This year’s Cinderella through the opening round is West Michigan, who upset Toledo in rather convincing fashion. The Jets have been so dominant that they have lost just two games in regulation since November 7th. However, like North Iowa, Metro is already in the Silver Cup Tournament as they are the #2 seed overall. So, even if they were to lose, they would be one of the top two wildcard teams. The Wolves also begin the series at home, which if they could take Game 1, would set them up nicely for another upset and a return to the Silver Cup. However, the Jets were 11-1 against the Wolves this season, so in order for West Michigan to advance they will have to beat Metro twice, something they did not do in 12 games during the regular season.
Game 1: Thursday, March 24 @ West Michigan
Game 2: Friday, March 25 @ Metro
Game 3: Saturday, March 26 @ Metro*
#1 Yellowstone Quake vs. #2 Great Falls Americans – The series between Yellowstone and Great Falls has the makings of an instant classic. Each team sweated out their Semi-Final series with the Quake needing an OT goal in Game 3 and the Americans winning two, one-goal games. The loser of this series still have a shot on the wildcard, depending on how the other series go, but they will both be rooting for the #1 seeds in the other divisions. The two teams played eight times during the regular season with the Quake winning five of the eight games. Look for goaltending to be key in this series as well. Great Falls starts the series at home with their lone home game in Game 1, so winning will be almost a must.
Game 1: Thursday, March 24 @ Great Falls
Game 2: Saturday, March 26 @ Yellowstone
Game 3: Sunday, March 27 @ Yellowstone
#1 St. Louis Jr. Blues vs. #3 Nashville Jr. Predators – St. Louis enters the division finals as the #3 overall seed, so they are in pretty good shape for a spot in the Silver Cup. However, the Jr. Blues would like to win and advance automatically. As a #3 seed out of the Midwest, Nashville is in a much more desperate situation, needing a series win to advance. Nashville is one of two #3 seeds remaining in the playoffs, as they pulled the slight upset of Peoria last weekend, using tight defense and goaltending to do so. They will need to do the same to St. Louis, who is a high-powered offensive bunch. The Jr. Blues won five of eight games played during the regular season between the two clubs.
Game 1: Thursday, March 24 @ St. Louis
Game 2: Friday, March 25 @ Nashville
Game 3: Saturday, March 26 @ St. Louis
#1 Point Mallard Ducks vs. #2 Texas Jr. Brahmas – Things couldn’t be more even between Point Mallard and Texas, as both teams enter the South Finals with the exact same record (35-9-3) and both teams having been pushed to the three-game limit last weekend. There are also several scenarios where the loser of this series still has a good chance to get in the Silver Cup as one of two wildcards, but they need to root for all the #1 seeds in the other divisions to win. Because of the distance between the two clubs, Point Mallard will host all three games. They ended up the higher seed despite the same record because they went 4-0 against Texas during the regular season.
Game 1: Friday, March 25 @ Point Mallard
Game 2: Saturday, March 26 @ Point Mallard
Game 3: Sunday, March 27 @ Point Mallard*
#1 Granite City Lumberjacks vs. #2 Twin City Steel – The West Division Finals are quite literally a winner takes all scenario, which will make for a great series. Both teams do not have enough points to qualify as a wildcard, so the West champion will be the lone representative. Granite City is trying to make it back to the Silver Cup where they won the title last season. The Lumberjacks have won the cup two of the last four seasons. Both teams were pushed to the three-game limit in their series last weekend. Each team won four times in the eight games during the regular season and each team scored 28 goals in those eight games. It is literally a coin flip, which is why the Lumberjacks are hoping that home ice will be the difference.
Game 1: Friday, March 25 @ Granite City
Game 2: Saturday, March 26 @ Twin City
Game 3: Sunday, March 27 @ Granite City*