With week 19 now in the books we had a couple more teams clinch their final spot in the standings. First of all, with their 7-3 win over Orange, Teal clinches 1st overall and the Pool A1 seed in the playoffs. It is the 7th straight year that 'Reggie's team' finishes 1st overall so congrats to Reggie and Teal. On a positive note for Team Orange, long time GWLHL veteran Doug Ducharme scored his 100th career goal in his 465th career game. Congrats Doug on reaching this great milestone! Also with Orange's loss and Yellow's win this week Yellow clinched 6th overall and the Pool B3 seed in the playoffs.
There is still a lot to be decided in the final week of the season next week, especially at the top of the standings with there being a 3 team tie at 24 points for 2nd to 4th place between Rouge, Green, and White. The season series between these 3 teams is already over with Rouge having the best record at 3-1-2, Green 2nd best at 2-2-2, and White 3rd at 2-4-0. If all 3 teams remain tied after next week then Rouge would finish 2nd overall by virtue of their win in the 3 team head to head season series tiebreaker. Then Green would finish 3rd overall by virtue of their head to head season series win over White 2 games to 1. However, since none of these teams play each other next week various combinations of wins, losses, and ties means any of these teams could still finish anywhere from 2nd to 4th place. Got it? Good.
Finally, 7th and 8th place are still to be decided because Black owns the head to head season series tiebreaker over Orange 2 games to 1 so if Black were to win their last game and Orange lose their last game Black finishes 7th and Orange drops to 8th. All other win/loss/tie scenarios has Orange finishing in 7th and Black finishing 8th.
While nothing will likely ever compare to the most exciting night in GWLHL history, last night featured two big comebacks on the same night.
The first game of the night saw team Yellow leading by a field goal at the two-minute warning. Orange, used to being down but never out, battle back with three quick goals before time expired to steal a valuable singe point. That point moved Orange to within a win of leapfrogging Yellow in the standings. Without, they'd be one point out of last place. It looks like Orange might be a dark horse with momentum on their side coming in close the playoffs!
In the seconds game of the evening, things weren't looking good for Rouge, already down 3-1, when Bo-Maguire became the dead meat as a result of a Guliani/Duggan sandwich.
With their entire defensive strategy on the shelf for the rest of the game, Rouge's #1 scorer Andrew Wardrop turned it up to prove to everyone that offence truly is the best defense by scoring 3 unanswered goals to win the game 4-3.
Congratulations to Blue on becoming the first team to clinch their spot in the regular season standings. With just two games remaining they can't catch Green or White being 5 points behind both teams. Although Yellow could still tie Blue in points with 2 wins and 2 losses by Blue, Blue owns the season series tiebreaker over Yellow 2 games to 1 that they clinched with a narrow 6-5 win back on Jan 31st.
This means that Blue will be in Pool A as the 3rd seed. It remains to be seen whether Blue's coaching staff decides to rest their starters the last 2 games of the regular season or risk catastrophic injuries by keeping on running them out there through the GWLHL meat grinder so they remain sharp for the playoffs. Decisions decisions.
There will likely be more teams clinching their spots next week but with the standings being as tight as they are the few final spots will no doubt come down to the final week of the season as the playoff picture finally starts to come into focus.
With week 17 now in the books we now have just 3 games left in the regular season as all 8 teams continue jockeying for position in the standings to determine which pool they'll slot into for the playoffs. What did we learn in week 17? Plenty:
- The week started off with Blue edging Yellow 6-5 giving themselves a 5 point cushion on Yellow for 5th place. This all but guarantees no worse than a 5th place finish for Blue (unless they lose their last 3 games and Yellow wins their last 3). Blue still has a chance of improving to 4th as they are currently just 3 points behind White but would need some help and they'd still be in the same pool anyway so really, why bother?
- The second game of the week saw Rouge beat up on a short-handed White squad 5-1. Witnesses say Rouge veteran (and sniper?) Billy 'The Kid' Sharman had a career day against White putting up 2 goals 2 assists and pretty much single handedly disposing of White. The win leaves Rouge 2nd overall, 2 points up on White and just two points back of Teal for first.
- The biggest game of the week saw first place Teal taking on Green who could have tied Teal for first place with a win as they were sitting just 2 points back going into the game. Unfortunately absolutely nothing was settled as the game ended in a 6-6 tie leaving Teal 2 points up on both Green and Rouge who have identical 9-4-4 records (Rouge owns the season series tiebreaker over Green with a 1-0-2 head-to-head record).
- The final game of the week saw Black inch closer to clawing their way out of the GWLHL basement with a 4-0 shutout of 7th place Orange who are now just a single point up on Black for the coveted 'not last' spot in the standings.
Speaking of Playoffs (Playoffs!?), the pools this year will break down as follows:
Pool A: 1st, 4th, 5th, and 8th place
Pool B: 2nd, 3rd, 6th, and 7th place
In the event that a tiebreaker is required, the following are the tiebreaker rules:
Between two or more teams:
1. Best record in head-to-head games amongst the tied teams
2. Most wins (overall vs all teams)
3. Largest goal differential (overall vs all teams)
4. Least goals against (overall vs all teams)
5. Least penalty minutes
6. Coin toss
Note 1: If there are still teams tied after a step (no single team is advanced), only the tied teams from that step move on to the next step of the procedure. This process continues until there is only 1 team remaining.
Note 2: Once one team has been advanced, it then reverts back to the start of the tie-breaking procedure to break the remaining ties and so forth each time one team is advanced and more ties still need to be broken.
So, just for fun, if the playoffs started today we'd have Teal, White, Blue, and Black in Pool A with Rouge, Green, Yellow, and Orange in Pool B. If you don't like your pool you have 3 more games to do something about it!
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Every year the GWLHL has moments in history that are beyond your typical anomalies and on Hockey Day in Canada week we were treated to another one of those performances for the ages.
League commissioner and dedicated GWLHL’er Reinhart Waldner has been a regular contributor on the score sheet for team Green in the 2017/2018 season but during the 2 games played on Hockey Day in Canada week Reinhart surprised even himself. Waldner, who bears a striking resemblance to Russian President Vladimir Putin and is affectionately known by his team as either Putin or Vlad…put up a career week. Up until this point in his GWLHL career, the only stat Waldner has led the league in is words per game day e-mail but that all changed.
With 2 games on the docket for the 2nd week of January, Waldner managed to notch a total of 8 points (6G’s and 2A’s) which not only contributed to 2 W’s for his team but vaulted him into the top echelon of league scoring. When pressed for comment on Saturday, Team Green leading scorer and beanie toque model Brokop did not mince his words as he was loading Bittner’s body in the car for a ride home “The real story here is that I am finally getting assists, that’s what everyone should be talking about. We all know Reiny can shoot…it’s nice to see the finish go with that.”
The shock and awe was felt throughout the Green dressing room as the story continued to spread into the early afternoon on Saturday. Team Green PIM leader and league agitator, Dennis Jajetovic, who has played multiple seasons with Waldner reacted with his 2nd smile of the season and words of encouragement “You know I thought Reinhart was a lost cause on the ice so I convinced him to become a career league commissioner and obviously that has motivated him to bring out his best week after week. I am taking full credit for this turnaround in his game.”
Dedication is something you cannot question with Waldner as he lives and breathes GWLHL and has been critical in the success of not only his team but the league. For context, Waldner’s first season in the league saw him notch a total of 5 points and after scoring again last week he has already tied his point total of 24 in his best season in the league. After his amazing week, Waldner sits 5th in league scoring with 23 points in 14 games and is showing no signs of slowing down.
Congrats Reinhart for a performance of the ages and it couldn’t happen to a more dedicated person and cornerstone to our league.