As the SJHL enters the final night of the regular season, there is still a lot to be decided when it comes to the postseason.
While the Weyburn Red Wings hold their own fate in their hands when they host the Yorkton Terriers, there are a number of other implications in the other three games on tap Tuesday night. The first place team in the SJHL has yet to be decided, and the winners of the Global Ag Risk Solutions Division and the Sherwood Division are both to be determined based on the outcome of the games tonight.
The Nipawin Hawks will be entertaining the Melville Millionaires in the final game of the season between the two. Nipawin and Melville have shared some storylines this season, perhaps none bigger than Nipawin assistant coach Devin Windle starting the season off as the head coach of the Millionaires.
Nipawin is currently the top team in the SJHL with 79 points, and a record of 37-15-2-3. The Hawks are one point up on Melfort, and two points up on the Battlefords and Kindersley for first overall.
A win tonight for the Hawks, and they seal their lock on first in the division and the league. A loss, well, then things start to get complicated.
If the Nipawin Hawks lose tonight, they will need the Kindersley Klippers to lose, as well as the Melfort Mustangs, if they want to ensure they finish first overall, and atop the Sherwood Division. If somehow, the Klippers end up in a tie with Nipawin for first, Kindersley will finish the season off in first place as the tie-breaker is in their favour. If Melfort is added to the mix, the Mustangs hold the tiebreaker with both teams and will take first overall.
If The Battlefords beats Kindersley while Nipawin and Melfort lose, the Battlefords would finish in second place, as the Hawks have the tiebreaker in terms of regulation and overtime wins.
For all the teams jockeying for the first place position, they need to take fate into their own hands tonight, as well as hope for a little luck in the other barns.
Once you get past the jumble atop the standings, things are a little clearer for positions six through nine. The Humboldt Broncos will start the playoffs against the Estevan Bruins (who will finish third by virtue of winning the Viterra Division). The Flin Flon Bombers are into the survivor series, where they will face either Melville or Weyburn in a best-of-three showdown. The Yorkton Terriers and Notre Dame Hounds will take part in a dog fight to see who will advance to the quarterfinals.
The Weyburn Red Wings and Melville Millionaires will be involved in the fight for the tenth and final spot, and it will all come down to how the teams perform in the final games of the regular season. For Weyburn to claim the tenth place, they will need to finish tied with Melville, or ahead since they hold the tiebreaker. The Millionaires will need to beat Nipawin and hope the Yorkton Terriers beat the Red Wings to take the playoff spot.
As for how the teams in the survivor series fare, it is almost a 50/50 chance to advance to the next round of the playoffs. Since the 2011 season, the lower-seeded teams in the survivor series have won nearly half of the time.
In all, it will make for an exciting night of Junior A hockey in the SJHL, as the seeding for the post-season will be determined once and for all.