If you were looking for a week of hockey with huge playoff ramifications, drama, excitement and anything else you could think of last week was the week.
Let’s begin with the Finnish Liiga. After winning their opening match of the semi-finals against TPS, Matias Mantykivi and Ilves Tampere dropped the next 3 games and trailed the series 1-3 which set up two win-or-go-home games on the weekend. Both Ilves and Mantykivi responded on Friday as they took the game 3-0. Mantykivi, who had been kept off the scoresheet the previous 4 games scored 9:25 into the third period to put Ilves up by 3 and seal the victory.
Game 6 went on Sunday but it wasn’t meant to be for Mantykivi and Ilves. TPS took a 2-0 lead midway into the third and Ilves pushed hard but was only able to get one back and lost the series in 6 games. Mantykivi did not figure in that scoring. Ilves will now go on to play Kookoo on April 24 for bronze.
Over in the Western Hockey League, the Vancouver Giants lost a 3-2 decision to the Kelowna Rockets in overtime where Fabian Lysell had a goal and an assist in a losing cause. The point was still huge for Vancouver as they held onto sixth place (tied with Prince George but the Giants hold the tie breaker) but just 2 points ahead of ninth place Spokane Chiefs. With four teams battling for the last two playoff spots, it brought a lot of nervous scoreboard watching.
It all came down to another nervous day on Saturday where everyone’s fate would be determined. Vancouver lost their matchup 5-2. Spokane won 4-2 to overtake Vancouver but the team they beat, Victoria, is the team that got eliminated. Vancouver will face the Western Conference top seed Everett Silvertips in round one of the playoffs beginning Friday in Everett with game two on Saturday.
In the Ontario Hockey League Brett Harrison had a goal and 2 assists Friday but it wasn’t enough as his Oshawa Generals lost 4-3 in overtime to the Mississauga Steelheads. However, the point did guarantee that the Generals would not finish in eighth spot and avoided a first-round matchup against the country’s top team, the Hamilton Bulldogs.
For Oshawa, it came down to the Ottawa 67’s matchup Saturday against the Kingston Frontenacs. Kingston would take that game 2-1 in a shootout. The single point lifted Ottawa into a tie with Oshawa for sixth spot but the Generals hold the tie breaker and are guaranteed a first-round matchup against Kingston. The Generals would win their final game Sunday 5-4 over North Bay in a shootout. Harrison had a goal and an assist.
The most excitement Friday was following Ryan Mast and his Sarnia Sting. Going into the night, Sarnia led the Erie Otters by one point for the final playoff spot. Sarnia easily handled the last place Saginaw Spirit 7-1 and things were looking good as the Otters had to battle the first place Windsor Spitfires. Things were looking good for Sarnia as Erie had to kill off a penalty in overtime, a tough job against the Spitfires, but they killed it off and then won it with yes, a penalty shot in overtime!
It set up for a fun Sunday on the final day but both teams are in tough. Erie has to face Hamilton (at home) while Sarnia has to face the London Knights (on the road). It was still possible for the teams to finish tied in points and in the CHL the final playoff spot isn’t determined by the tie breaking rules but a 1-game play-in that would be played Tuesday to determine the eighth seed. By the time Sarnia’s game has half over, the Sting knew they were in as Hamilton thrashed Erie 10-2. Still, Sarnia battled hard even though the game had no bearings in the standings but fell 1-0 to the Knights. They will face Windsor in the opening round.
Over in the USHL, both the Fargo Force – Andre Gasseau and Mason Langenbrunner – and the Dubuque Fighting Saints – Philip Svedeback – have one week remaining in their regular seasons and while both have clinched playoff spots, there is something still on the table to play for.
On Saturday, Gasseau scored once in regulation and again in the shootout to help Fargo take a 4-3 decision over Lincoln. The victory, coupled with a Waterloo Black Hawks loss put Fargo alone in fifth place in the Western Conference. Fargo can’t move any hire in the standings and will battle the Hawks the rest of the way for fifth or sixth spot.
There’s more at stake for Dubuque. While Svedeback did not play due to a non-covid related illness, they were able to beat Green Bay Saturday 7-2 while the Chicago Steel lost a 2-1 decision to Youngstown. The results vaulted Dubuque into a tie with Chicago for top spot in the Eastern Conference. While Chicago holds a game in hand (Sunday versus USA) Dubuque holds the tie breakers. However, Chicago won their game in hand 3-2 in overtime.
Providence Bruins Player Stats
Providence Bruins Goalie Stats
Maine Mariners Stats
Coming up this week:
|GASSEAU||At T C||Vs S F||At S F|
|LANGENBRUNNER||At T C||Vs S F||At S F|
|HARRISON||At KGN||At KGN|
|MAST||At WSR||At WSR|
|LYSELL||At EVT||At EVT|
|SVEDEBACK||Vs C R||At C R|