Power rankings provided by Matt Caruk
No matter what sport, playoffs do funny things to the motivation of a sports team. How many times do the top seeds face an early exit, while those who are the hottest come playoff time end up running the table? As the Canadian Lacrosse League gets set to kick off the 2014 playoff season the top seeded Ohsweken Demons come into the post season on a losing note while the Barrie Blizzard enter red hot after just a few short weeks ago seeming to have no hope of making the post season.
The outcome of two playoff matchups will be determined Sunday, March 30th before the Creator’s Cup is awarded the first weekend of April. Will the top teams all season come away victorious, or will the teams with momentum move on? Weekly Power Rankings considers all factors while answering the question “if each team were pitted against each other, which would come out on top?”
Here is the answer after week eight, and the regular season.
1. Ohsweken Demons (record: 7-1, last week’s rank: 1st)
Week 8: bye
Semi-final: Sunday March 30th, 8pm vs Southwest
Yes, the Ohsweken Demons dropped their final regular season game. However, it was to the streaking Barrie Blizzard and it was without Jake Henhawk in net, or now two-time league goal scoring champion Wayne Van Every. With Southwest limping into the post season having lost their last four the Demons should have no trouble clinching a home floor Championship date.
2. Barrie Blizzard (record: 4-4, last week: 3rd)
Week 8: 15-9 win vs Southwest
Semi-final: Sunday March 30th, 4pm @ Niagara
The Blizzard continue to rocket up the power ranks with their improbable win streak. A massive first half saw the Blizzard hold an 11-3 lead at halftime Sunday, which they never relinquished. Barrie did lose the second half 6-4, but their powerplay and transition game continued to shine. Angus Dineley was massive facing over seventy shots, including forty-six in the middle quarters, and allowing just two goals in the first and fourth quarters. It’s a toss up between him and Niagara’s Davide DiRuscio for hottest CLax goalie, and they’ll go toe-to-toe this weekend.
3. Niagara Lock Monsters (record: 6-2, last week: 2nd)
Week 8: bye
Semi-final: Sunday March 30th, 4pm vs Barrie
Niagara doesn’t drop a spot because of their play, they drop because Barrie has been on such a roll, and they had to move up. Having said that, the Lock Monsters continue to win games in front of DiRuscio. Niagara finishes the season with a staggering seventy goals allowed, well ahead of the next best total (Ohsweken’s ninety-seven). The Lock Monsters did finish second in goals scored (again, behind Ohsweken) but their ninety-nine is just two goals ahead of Barrie’ ninety-seven. Will the streaking goaltenders prevail, or the hot offenses? Don’t miss this semi-final!
4. Southwest Cyclops (record: 2-6, last week: 4th)
Week 8: 15-9 loss @ Barrie
Semi-final: Sunday March 30th, 8pm @ Ohsweken
The Cyclops could not match the speed of Barrie in the first half Sunday. Through the first two quarters Michael Burke and Ryan Campbell (their two offensive leaders) combined for just three shots on net. Jay Preece had an off-day as well being lifted for Craig Wende before halftime, though he did return in the third quarter. Despite the scoreboard Southwest did manage seventy-four shots and controlled the ball through the majority of the third. Their extended pressure resulted in four third quarter power-plays and a penalty shot. They’ll be looking to build off the momentum gained in the third and fourth quarters as they clash with the Ohsweken Demons. However, in their first meeting of the season, Southwest gave the Demons a scare before dropping a 21-19 decision (with the twenty-first goal coming in the empty net). Can Southwest score that one extra goal this time?
5. Durham Turfdogs (record: 1-7, last week: 5th)
Week 8: bye
The post-season will be more ‘what-ifs’ for Durham. They were eliminated from the playoffs after week seven but they should have at least a few representatives at the inaugural CLax All-Star Game April 12th at the Wilmot Recreation Centre.