High School Hockey Season Enters Final Month With Playoffs Looming In February
Ladue, MICDS, and John Burroughs schoolboy hockey clubs shoot for second half winning performances.
The 2012-2013 high school hockey season will hit its home stretch as soon as the calendar hits January, which will mark the beginning of the final month of the regular season.
The three levels of playoffs all begin in February, so that means the 40 or so St. Louis area teams that compete in the Mid-States Club Hockey Association have just one month left to prove they deserve a spot in one of the top postseason tournaments -- either the elite Challenge Cup or the Wickenheiser Cup.
For those not in the know, the Mid-States Hockey playoffs work a little differently than most other high school sports postseason tournaments.
The way it works is like this: the absolute best 16 teams in the area all earn an invite into the Challenge Cup tournament, which traditionally has been dominated by the larger private schools like CBC, De Smet, and Chaminade, although Francis Howell Central became the first public school ever to win the Challenge Cup back in 2011.
The second-best 16 teams play in the Wickenheiser (Wick) Cup playoffs, which came down to a thrilling overtime title game last year, between smaller private schools Whitfield and Lutheran South.
The remaining 8-10 teams play in the third level Founder's Cup tournament, which allows teams that are still building their programs to play against like programs, instead of having to take a first-round beating against one of the more established programs.
Last year, Ladue won the Founder's Cup championship game over St. Mary's.
This year, the Rams' goal has been to earn a berth into one of the top level tourney brackets.
But with a 4-7-2 record going into the new year, Ladue has still got some work to do to reach Wick Cup level.
Fortunately, the Rams still have eight games left on their schedule, and with a winning run to close the regular season, they could still reach the Wick Cup.
The race to the playoffs begins for Ladue, Tuesday night, with a key game against Mid-States Central Division member Webster Groves at the Webster Groves Recreation Center.
The Rams and Statesmen played once already this season, back on November 30, and finished that night in a 6-6 tie.
Tuesday's rematch is slated to start at 8:15 p.m.
The MICDS Rams have the best shot of making one of the top tournaments this year.
Last year, the Rams played in the Challenge Cup and were ousted following an intense first-round series against Chaminade.
This year, MICDS leads the Mid-States Central Division 1 standings, with a 5-6-2 record, which includes a big 5-1 win over Ladue last Thursday at the Queeny Park Ice Rink.
The Rams got two goals and an assist from junior Matthew Myer, and a goal and three assists from senior Brandon Klar that night. Both players rank among the area leaders in total assists this season, with Klar's 18 helpers tied for the area's most.
Many of those assists have gone to sophomore Charles Combs, who didn't score in the Ladue game, but is still tied for the area lead with 18 goals this season.
The Rams will begin their 2013 action with a game against Kirkwood on Tuesday, at the Affton Ice Rink.
The John Burroughs Bombers are just 3-9 this year, but are only one win away from tying last year's total, when they went 4-17.
The Bombers still have a shot at making the Wick Cup, but they're going to have to get real hot, real fast to make that happen.
And they'll get their opportunity beginning on Tuesday, when the Bombers will play Northwest in a late-night game at the Webster Groves Rec Center.
REMAINING MID-STATES HOCKEY SCHEDULES
LADUE RAMS ................. MICDS RAMS ............... JOHN BURROUGHS BOMBERS
1/5 v. Whitfield ............... 1/5 v. Priory .................. 1/4 v. St. Charles West
1/10 vs. John Burroughs .. 1/7 v. John Burroughs .. 1/5 v. Summit
1/12 v. Westminster ........ 1/11 v. Webster Groves .. 1/7 v. MICDS
1/14 v. MICDS ............... 1/14 v. Ladue ................ 1/10 v. Ladue
1/18 v. Parkway West ..... 1/18 v. Howell North .... 1/11 v. Westminster
1/19 v. Parkway North .... 1/21 v. Lindbergh ......... 1/19 v. Ft. Zumwalt S.
1/24 v. Priory .................. 1/26 v. Whitfield ........... 1/22 v. Webster Groves
............................................................................... 1/25 v. Priory