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Yeshiva High School Hockey Playoff Preview

With Winter Break behind us, there is less than a month till the beginning of the 2014-2015 MYHSHL Playoffs. Despite the proximity to the post-season, there is still much up in the air as relates to the JV and Varsity West. Here is a comprehensive look at what can happen for each team still in the hunt for the post-season:

Varsity TABC Storm

The Storm team has already clinched a 1st-round home game. Should it gain one point in its remaining three games, the Storm will clinch the top seed for the Western Conference, forcing other teams to have to win at TABC to get to the finals. The odds of TABC getting that point are extremely high given that its next game is against Heschel, a team with only one win on the season.

Most Important Game Remaining: 2/5 @ DRS. Although the game against Frisch should be an explosive matchup, that game will mean more to Frisch than it will TABC. The game against the Wildcats on the 5th could very well be a preview of a semifinal matchup and being the last game going into the playoffs, a win would mean a great deal for either side mentally and in terms of momentum.

SAR Sting

SAR has clinched a playoff berth and presently sits poised to capture the 2nd seed in the West. In order to do so, the Sting will need a win or losses by MTA and Kushner to ensure that spot. SAR can slam the door shut on the conversation on its own when it faces MTA on the 27th in MTA. Unfortunately for SAR, it has two games remaining against two teams with much to fight for: MTA fighting to stay out of the Play-In games and Frisch fighting for its playoff life, as each team’s next games are on the other team’s floor. That fact in itself, the games being outside of SAR’s rink, adds an extra layer of intrigue, as the Sting have not played strongly against playoff competition away from SAR. It is not a stretch to say that SAR can go 0-2 just as well as it can go 2-0. Should the Sting lose both games, it will open the door for MTA and Kushner to overtake them. Given the schedules for those two teams, SAR could drop from 2nd place to 4th place in a matter of a week.

Most Important Game Remaining: 1/27 @ MTA. Should SAR win against the Lions, the game against Frisch is meaningless in terms of the playoffs. Should MTA win, SAR vs. Frisch could very well be the most intensely played game of all of that remain.

Ramaz Rams

Ramaz has finished its season at 16 points. The Rams failed to capitalize on their own opportunities, losing to Frisch and SAR in their final two games. A win over either would have punched their post-season ticket. At this stage, they are at the mercy of other teams. One win by MTA and one win by Kushner will propel them over the Rams, forcing Ramaz into the 5th position, leaving it to pray that Frisch falls short. Given that the Lions and Cobras each have two games remaining against sub-.500 teams, the likelihood that Ramaz will be out of the running is very high.

Most Important Game Remaining: 2/2 TABC @ Frisch. TABC has not lost a game and will be Ramaz’s best hope to repel Frisch’s desperation attack. Maybe Ramaz puts together a fan bus to Frisch to support the other blue and gold team in its division?

Kushner Cobras

Kushner is in an interesting position. The Cobras can find themselves as high as the 2nd seed or even as low as not making the postseason, but with their schedule not making it will be difficult. With games against Heschel and Flatbush, the Cobras should climb over Ramaz and Frisch to clinch a spot. The question for them is what the Frisch game represents. By the time that Frisch game is played, Kushner will know where it stands in the battle for the 2nd seed. While control of the seed is not in their hands, the Cobras are fortunate that the schedule plays out the way it does. Let’s bring SAR’s schedule back into play for a second. SAR plays MTA on the 27th and Frisch on the 29th. For MTA, the Lions know that on the other side of SAR is JEC and North Shore, both winnable games. This means that the game with SAR is crucial to MTA because, should it win out, MTA will have a shot at the 2nd seed. For Frisch, a loss means no post-season. Let’s assume that Frisch and MTA do beat SAR, and Kushner drops Flatbush. In the interim, Frisch still has to play TABC. This means that the Cougars, who have beaten SAR, will play TABC, and for argument’s sake, let’s say that they lose to the Storm, the game against Kushner would then be meaningless for Frisch. Not only that, but it will be Frisch’s third game in six days. One could very well see Kushner come in, pick up on a potentially worn out and disinterested Frisch team, then play Heschel and walk out of the season with the 2nd seed in the West. Talk about scheduling playing a key factor. Kushner may just find itself in the right place at the right time to host a 1st-round home game. Otherwise, Kushner is likely to wind up with the third seed, traveling East. The worst-case scenario for Kushner is a situation where MTA defeats SAR and wins out, and SAR defeats Frisch. If that happens, the Cobras will be under pressure to at least tie MTA in points or risk falling straight down to the 4th seed.

Most Important Game Remaining: 2/5 @ Frisch. No one’s really expecting a major challenge from Flatbush or Heschel given how their seasons have gone. That being the case, this single game has the ability to decide Kushner’s postseason fate. But, it also holds the power to decide Frisch’s as well, assuming that it makes it beyond TABC first. Then again, even if it doesn’t, this will be a game that Frisch will look to use as a statement to end off its season, especially with how the last minute of regulation in Kushner panned out.

MTA Lions

MTA is the only team with games left that does not control its own destiny, except in one way. The only thing that MTA has the ability to control is whether it makes the post-season. One win will punch a post-season ticket for the Lions. Beyond that, MTA can win or lose any number of games and it will still need a team to lose in order to climb in the seedings.

Most Important Game Remaining: 1/27 vs. SAR. A win would mean that the Lions can still stay in contention for a spot that will not force them to play a qualifying game.

Frisch Cougars

This year has not gone the way the Cougars had hoped for. The fascinating part of the 2014-2015 year for the Cougars is how different it could have been if one little break in each game had gone the other way. This is how close Frisch has come in almost all of its contests this season: a tie to the best team in the East, two overtime losses and three of the four regulation losses were within two goals of the opposition. Well, Frisch is going to have to hope that it gets a little bit of luck rolling its way as the only way the Cougars see the post-season is if they win out. Effectively, they play three playoff games before the post-season even begins. But, should they complete the task, they may very well be the dark-horse in the competition, as it will mean having defeated potentially the top three seeds in the division in the process. Frisch has the talent to get the job done. The question is, does it have the endurance for a 45-day playoff marathon?

Most Important Game Remaining: All of them. Each should be viewed as individual championships for the Cougars.

JV

All five playoff teams have been determined, but where each team could end up is just as entertaining to follow as the situation in the Varsity league.

SAR Sting

The Sting sit one point away from taking the first non-TABC division title in a very long time. Any occurrence that will give SAR a point or force Frisch to lose a point will hand SAR home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and steer the course of the championship through the rink in Riverdale. The worst that SAR can do is lose out and have Frisch win out. In that situation, both teams would be 8-2 and would be even in all tiebreak situations forcing a coin-flip for the division crown.

Most Important Game Remaining: 1/29 @ Frisch. What better way to take care of business than by doing it yourself? Wrap it up early and don’t subject yourself to having to sweat it out against JEC.

TABC Storm and Frisch Cougars

For the first time in six years, the Storm look, dare I say, vulnerable? Of course, that’s exactly what they want you to think. The team has touted the battle cry of “No Respect” all year, overcome all obstacles and presently sits two games away from the 2nd seed in the West. Frisch, tabbed the division favorites when the year began, seemed poised to lock up a 1st-round home game and challenge SAR for the division a few weeks ago up until it ran into the Storm in TABC, losing 2-1. These two teams are attached at the hip and may be so all the way down to the very end of the season. Currently, as a result of the win, TABC holds the tiebreak and the upper-hand. What it will need to lock up the spot will depend on what happens between Frisch and SAR on the 29th. If Frisch wins, TABC will need to win out to clinch the spot. If Frisch loses, TABC will only need three points in its final two games. Should TABC lose both games, Frisch will enjoy the 2nd seed while TABC waits to see if JEC passes it by and forces it into the play-in game. However, if Frisch wins the matchup between the two in regulation (depending on what happens in both games prior, it would be inaccurate to talk about what would happen if the game was won in overtime), Frisch would, at worst, be tied with TABC, in which case, it would go to the tiebreak procedure, which would end up going to a coin-flip with the winner retaining the second seed and the loser dropping to 3rd. There is a scenario in which neither team could wind up with the 2nd seed. For that, see JEC below.

Most Important Game Remaining: I think we all know the answer to this one. As much as I’d like to tout Frisch’s game with SAR because Frisch can still tie for the division title, that doesn’t happen without a win against TABC. No matter what happens, the only way Frisch can avoid going on the road in the first round is with a regulation win over TABC (possibly depending on Lady Luck if it ends up tied). For TABC, there is no chance at the top spot as it has lost to SAR twice, but the Westchester game is meaningless. All it serves to do is give the team more outs should Frisch lose to SAR. That is the game that matters more.

JEC Thunder

The odds are that JEC will be relegated to the 4th seed in the division. Given that it does not hold tiebreakers against either TABC or Frisch, it cannot move up a seed by being tied with either of them. That being said, there are only two possibilities that will keep it out of a play-in game. The first possibility is to earn at least 3 points in its final two games and have either Frisch or TABC go winless in their last two games. This option will give JEC the 3rd seed. There is, however, a way that JEC can still take the 2nd seed in the West—and it’s somewhat complicated. In order to do so, JEC needs to win its two games against Hillel and SAR to gain 14 points. JEC would then need Frisch to lose to SAR and TABC to lose to Westchester. Finally, Frisch and TABC would need to tie each other to keep them both at 13 points. Should that happen, JEC would take the 2nd seed, TABC the 3rd, and Frisch would finish 4th. You would have better odds betting on a safety being the first points in the Super Bowl for the third time in four years than that scenario occurring.

Most Important Game Remaining: 2/2 @ SAR. This game would be a great time to make a statement heading into the post-season. Even a close loss like the one JEC had to Frisch earlier this season would give JEC a boost heading into the playoffs and put other teams on notice.

MTA Lions

MTA holds the 5th seed and will go on the road to the East 4th seed for a play-in game to earn the right to play against the West #1.

By Elliot Weiselberg

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