What a ridiculously important weekend for the Guelph Storm.
Heading into Friday night’s game against the Saginaw Spirit, the Storm sits tied for the all-important fourth place in the Western Conference standings with Saginaw and Sunday’s opponent, the London Knights.
All three teams have 56 points, with Saginaw and London holding a game in hand.
One of the hottest teams in junior hockey, the suddenly-revitalized Owen Sound Attack, are just one point back of those three, also with a game in hand over Guelph.
Not a fan of watching the standings most of the season, at this time of year it becomes important. Just as important is watching the schedule.
I’d say Owen Sound finishes fourth, Guelph fifth, London sixth, Saginaw seventh and Windsor eighth.
Of the four teams jostling for home ice for the first round of the playoffs, the schedule appears to favour the Storm in that they are the lone one of the four teams with more home games (10) than road games (7) the rest of the way.
But if the Attack keeps playing as well as they have of late, schedule won’t matter. Perhaps it’s just a hot streak or perhaps the Attack is finally reaching its potential after being the country’s most disappointing team much of the season.
Owen Sound has eight of its final 18 games against Eastern Conference opponents, for whatever that’s worth, and is done with Kitchener. They do have one game each against Sault Ste. Marie and Sarnia, both at home.
We know that Guelph plays much better at home than they do on the road. They have a game in Sarnia on the remaining schedule and their biggest hurdle will be three games against the Kitchener Rangers, two of those at The Aud.
Guelph has not handled that team well.
London appears to be a team heading down the standings,, following all the talent it traded away at the deadline, and has the Soo on its schedule twice.
Saginaw has a very tough schedule. It includes three games against the Soo Greyhounds, two against Sarnia and one against London. It also includes a home stretch that will see the Spirit play five of its final six regular games on the road.
So get ready for a Highway 6 series. It looks like Guelph and Owen Sound in a first round matchup.