Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Ice: Anderson Cup/Playoff opponent watch

The Indiana Ice have clinched the USHL's Eastern Conference title, but are locked in a battle with Waterloo for the Anderson Cup -- symbolic of the USHL regular season titlist.

Waterloo currently holds a two-point lead, but the Ice have one game in hand.

Anderson Cup race
Ice: 40-10-7, 87 points
Remaining games: Wednesday vs. Dubuque (33-20-4), Friday vs. Green Bay (28-24-6), Saturday at Chicago (28-25-4).

Waterloo: 42-11-5, 89 points
Remaining games: Friday vs. Cedar Rapids (35-20-3), Saturday at Cedar Rapids (35-20-3).

Playoff chase
The Eastern Conference's playoff are 3/4 set, but it's a wild chase for that last fourth. The Ice are locked into the top spot with 87 points. Cedar Rapids (73 points) will play Dubuque (70 points) in another series, but it's yet to be determined who will have home ice advantage. Dubuque has one game in hand.

But the race to see who will have the #4 spot in the division and face the involves FOUR teams with just a few days left.

4. Muskegon (29-24-5, 63 points). Friday at Chicago; Saturday vs. Green Bay
5. Green Bay (28-24-6, 62 points). Friday at Indiana; Saturday at Muskegon
6. Team USA (28-25-5, 61 points). Friday vs. Sioux City; Saturday vs. Dubuque (note: U17s will play)
7. Chicago (28-25-4, 60 points). Wednesday vs. Youngstown; Friday vs. Muskegon; Saturday vs. Indiana

Chicago has a game in hand on all 3 teams, and that game in hand is against eighth-place Youngstown. Muskegon's one-point lead is a bit precarious, as both of its remaining games are against teams chasing it. The Ice also factor in to choosing their foe, as they face both Green Bay and Chicago this weekend. This one will go to Saturday night!

The scenarios are pretty mind-boggling. The only thing that's known is if Muskegon wins out, it clinches. Tiebreakers, by the way, are head-to-head records first. We'll crunch these numbers again after Friday's games.

In the west, Waterloo (89 points) has the top seed. Omaha (81 points) needs only one point to clinch the No. 2 seed. Sioux City (77 points) and Sioux Falls (75 points) are likely duking it out for the third and fourth seeds.

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