NAPHL Championship Series underway
February 13, 2015
The North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) Championship series begins on Friday in Troy, Michigan. All 32 NAPHL teams are on hand to determine the champions in the Gold (championship) and Silver (consolation) brackets.
All of the games can be watched live on FASTHockey
The defending champions from 2014 are Omaha AAA in the 18U Division and the Lansing Capitals in the 16U Division. Teams are playing for the right to hoist the Dixon Cup, which the NAPHL announced earlier, will be awarded to the NAPHL Playoff Champions in both the 18U and 16U Divisions.
In the 18U Division, eight teams enter the event in the Gold Division with a chance to win the title, including the defending Champions Omaha, who are the #3 seed heading into the playoffs. The top seed and regular season Champions from the 18U Division during the 2014-15 regular season are the Madison Capitols, who just finished their first season in the league.
Anaheim, who finished in a three-way tie for 2nd place with Omaha and Esmark, but who won the tiebreaker with more wins, is the #2 seed. Two of the teams playing the best hockey entering the event are Esmark and New Jersey, who are #4 and #5 respectively and will be in the same bracket. New Jersey is 9-1 in their last 10 games and Esmark is 7-1-2 in their last 10. New Jersey also has the highest-ranked offense in the 18U Division, while Esmark has the second-ranked defense. In a division with the #1 seed Madison and #8 seed HC Dallas, it should make for quite the competition in the round-robin. On the other half of the bracket, Anaheim, Omaha, Lansing and California enter the event with something to prove. The Titans are fresh off of securing a berth to the District Championships with a good showing in the California State Tournament. The Capitals are always a threat and had 18 wins during the regular season. The Jr. Ducks had the league’s best defense, allowing just 34 goals in 24 games played. Omaha is trying to do what no NAPHL team has done, which is win back-to-back NAPHL titles.
In the 16U Gold Division, all eyes are on the regular season Champion Anaheim, who lost just one game during the regular season and who are fresh off their California State Championship. The team to hand Anaheim their only loss in the regular season was Omaha, who comes into the event ranked #4 in the Nation. Also in Omaha’s bracket is Arizona, St. Louis and Pursuit of Excellence. St. Louis comes into the event winners of their last three and they have played Omaha tough this year. Pursuit had just five regulation losses during the season and Arizona was 6-2-2 in their last 10. In the other bracket with Anaheim sits Esmark, Lansing and New Jersey. It will be a tall task to come out of this pool as all four teams are playing well.