GWMHL

Playoff Races Intensify Heading Into Final Quarter

In Uncategorized on March 20, 2022 at 3:49 pm

Just 18 games remain in the 2021-22 GWMHL schedule, and the playoff races are heating up! With the rule changes that accompanied expansion last summer, the top six teams in each conference will make the playoffs, while the top two in each conference get a bye in the first round.

The third quarter saw some seismic shifts in the Plante Conference, as the Charleston Chiefs had a monster 14-6-4 quarter while rivals El Dorado (9-10-5) and Salem (10-11-3) were stuck in neutral. This allowed the Chiefs to not only leapfrog the Lynx to take first place in the conference, but put six points between them.

Further down the standings in the Plante, the Pittsburgh Hornets had a great 15-6-3 run that put them squarely in the playoff mix, and the expansion Hershey Bears skated to a nice 12-9-3 while both Parry Sound (5-15-4) and Winnipeg (5-19-0) struggled, putting the Bears in the final playoff spot by a mere point.

Not much changed near the top of the Sawchuk Conference, as the Adirondack Aces‘ 14-7-3 Q3 record kept them in first and nothing else has moved in the top four. But big changes were afoot after that, as the Hamilton Ti-Cats faded badly, going 5-17-2, while the Ice Harbor Storm surged to a 16-7-1 record that put them in the fifth spot, three points back of Vancouver and a commanding 16 ahead of San Jose. The Storm have by far the most potent offense in the league, averaging just short of five goals per game — they also allow the most goals, so every game’s an adventure. San Jose, Delta, and Hamilton will have to duke it out for the sixth and final playoff berth.

Ice Harbor’s Alex DeBrincat had a huge third quarter, with 43 points in 24 games, and teammate Jonathan Huberdeau had 36 points. Both have jumped past Leon Draisaitl for the points lead and DeBrincat becomes the first player on the season to reach 100 points, with 107. He also now leads the league in goals with 53, and is joined in the 50-goal club by Portland’s Brad Marchand (51) and the extremely unlikely Vancouver’s Connor Brown (50).

Kirill Kaprizov leads the rookie race with 70 points in 62 games, and West Virginia teammates Jakob Chychrun and Dougie Hamilton are one-two in the league for points from a defenseman with 71 and 68 respectively.

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