January 12, 2014
FIVE TEAMS DUKING IT OUT FOR #1
The NSWC Midget A1 team jumped into their first uncontested lead in the top tier of the PCAHA standings with a convincing 7-3 win over Surrey A1 on Friday night.
The win gives them a record of 10-2-2, 31 points, and a three point lead on Coquitlam A1. However the Chiefs, with a record of 9-2-1 have two games in hand, and play last place Chilliwack, and mid-pack Vancouver Spirit in their next two games, so could move into first place by the end of the week.
Also hot on the Winterhawks’ heals are Seafair 9-2-2, tied with Coquitlam at 28 points, Richmond at 8-2-2 with 27, and Ridge Meadows 9-2-1 with 26. Both Richmond and Ridge Meadows also have two games in hand.
So for all five of the top teams every point is going to be critical over the remaining few games. And, as the Winterhawks 3-0 loss back to Chilliwack on Nov 29 shows shows, anything can happen on a given night.
For the Winterhawks, Seafair and Ridge Meadows especially, winning a bunch of the dreaded sportsmanship points will be critical to their final standings, as both teams are subpar compared to the other leaders in this department.
The Winterhawks have the leagues’ leading defensive record, allowing just 19 goals against in 14 games. However, Ridge is very close with 24 GA and a lower GF record.
Thursday’s game at Cam Nealy pits the two teams against each other in what may be the toughest contest of the year for both. The Winterhawks downed the Rustlers 4-3 back in late November.
Ridge will followup the Hawks game with Coquitlam Saturday, while the Winterhawks will face Cloverdale at home Friday.
Meanwhile, Seafair faces three of the bottom teams in their stretch run of five games; but will have to face Ridge at Cam Neely on Jan 30 which will likely be a key game in determining final standings.
Coquitlam has six games remaining, with only Ridge Meadows, next Saturday, the only top team in the mix.
Richmond is facing the path of least resistance in their final five games, playing none of the top teams in their finish. Odds are in their favor to run the table which would mean a finish of 13-2-2. The earlier osses to NSWC and Seafair could be a factor in final placement.
There are still teams in mid-pack that theoretically are still in the running. North Vancouver and Surrey both have 24 points in sixth and seventh place. Vancouver Spirit have 23.
North Van and the Spirit tied 4-4 Saturday, and both got their sportsmanship points, to stay in the running.
With four games and 12 points left there’s still a slim chance they could make a top four finish, but they’ll have to bump off top teams to do it, and hope for a complete meltdown from one or two teams ahead of them.
Surrey is in a similar position. They’re tied with North Van and also have four games remaining. Both teams have the best sportsmanship records, North Van with a perfect 13-13 Lady Byng.
Vancouver at 5-6-3 are just a point behind Surrey and North Van.
The bottom five are on the outside looking in, Cloverdale, Semiahmoo, Abbotsford, Langley and Chilliwack each have only managed two or three wins this season.