Challenge Cup quarterfinals set to begin in Midstates Club Hockey Association playoffs
By: Warren Mayes
The round robin format in the Challenge Cup playoffs has finished and eight teams remain alive in the Midstates Club Hockey Association playoffs.
In the Challenge Cup, defending champion and No. 1 seed CBC moves on to the quarterfinals.
In Blue Conference round robin play, the Cadets won two games with a tie to score five points and keep going. CBC tied Chamiande 4-4 but blanked Lafayette 9-0 and Seckman 10-3. Chaminade also scored five points with two wins and a tie. The wins by the Red Devils were 13-3 over Kirkwood and 3-1 over Oakville. Oakville had two wins — 5-2 over Lafayette and 6-1 over Seckman — to go with its loss to Chaminade. Along with its loss to Chamiande, Kirkwood beat Seckman 4-2 and tied Lafayette 3-3 to advance.
In the Red Conference round robin action, SLUH went 3-0 with wins over Lindbergh, Vianney and Westminster Christian Academy while De Smet and Lindbergh each went 2-1. De Smet beat Westminster and Vianney but lost to Lindbergh. Vianney’s win over Summit was enough to survive with its two losses.
Neither Summit or Westminster Christian Academy won a game in round robin play.
CBC (21-2-1) meets No. 11 Vianney (5-14-5) at 9:45 p.m. Friday (Feb. 8) at Affton and Monday (Feb. 11) at 7 p.m. at South County. No. 4 Chaminade (16-5-3) plays No. 5 Oakville (16-7-1) at 8:45 p.m. Friday at Webster Groves and the second game is set for 8:15 p.m. Monday at Queeny Park. On the other side of the bracket, No. 2 SLUH (20-3-1) meets No. 9 Kirkwood (11-9-4) at 8 p.m. Friday at Affton and again at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Queeny Park. No. 6 De Smet (15-9) faces No. 3 Lindbergh (17-4-2) at 9:30 p.m. Friday at Queeny Park and again at 8:45 p.m. Saturday at Webster Groves.
The coaches were mixed in their thoughts on the round robin format, which was new this season.
“I think the jury is still out on the new format,” CBC coach John Jost said. “They may need to tweak it a little but, all in all, the games were very competitive in the first round.”
Chaminade coach Nathan Hirsch agreed.
“We like the new format but there are definitely some tweaks and minor changes that will improve it going forward,” Hirsch said.
De Smet coach John Mattingly Jr. said it was good because the games were well played and the fans liked it.
“ I think the new format was a huge success,” Mattingly Jr. said. “All the games were competitive and the crowds were huge.”
Both coaches said there were no upsets in the round robin action.
“I really think ultimately the eight best teams are left,” Jost said. “All four series will be good ones.”
All the teams have a chance, Hirsch said.
“It’s a very solid top eight and we feel that the best eight teams are still alive and have a shot on wining the championship,” Hirsch said.
CBC played Vianney twice during the regular season. The Cadets won both games.
“They both were good games,” Jost said. “They are playing their best hockey right now, so we need to be ready. We need to get out to a good start in both games. Our forecheck will be the key.”
Chaminade played Oakville four times this year. The Red Devils beat Oakville 9-2 in the Top Hat Tournament. During the regular season, Chaminade lost to 7-1 but then won 5-4. In the round robin postseason play, Chaminade scored a 3-1 victory.
“They are a very strong team,” Hirsch said. “This should be an exciting series. We’ll need a strong, consistent effort to be successful in this round and throughout the playoffs. If we get that effort from all 20 guys in the lineup, we will be successful in achieving our goal this season.”
De Smet lost 6-3 in early November to Lindbergh in just the third game of the season. The loss in round robin play was 2-1.
“We lost our league game against them, but the game was very close,” Mattingly Jr. said. “We gave up a lead in the third period.”
To defeat the Flyers in the quarterfinals and advance to the semifinals, the Spartans have to play good defense, Mattingly Jr. said.
“We must shut down their top line,” Mattingly Jr. said. “We struggle at times defensively. This will be the deciding factor.”