According to Sports Club Stats the West Auckland Admirals have officially clinched a spot in the playoffs, but the race for the two remaining spots is well and truly heating up with the Skycity Stampede, Botany Swarm and Dunedin Thunder all still in contention.
All that it takes now to have a shot at the Birgel Cup is that playoff game between second and third where anything could happen in a one-off matchup like that.
As of today the Stampede have a 99.8% chance of advancing to the post-season with two games in hand, the Swarm have a 89.4% chance, while the Thunder are dwindling at 10.8% – but don’t count them out just yet. On the other hand, the Canterbury Red Devils have been effectively all but mathematically eliminated after sustaining two more losses over the weekend.
The Queenstown side also sport a league best in special teams – both in the powerplay (44.44%) and the penalty kill (84.44%). In contrast, the league-leading Admirals currently have the second worst powerplay at 20.51% while being middle of the pack in PK effectiveness (75.00%). If these two sides meet again in the Finals, special teams will be a contributing factor in choosing a victor.
But there is still plenty of hockey to be played to improve such figures and a round seven clash in Queenstown between the Admirals and Stampede could potentially serve as a Birgel Cup Finals preview.
The Swarm and Thunder could well be fighting it out for that third placing. A weekend in Christchurch proved to be fruitful for the Botany side, who were able to get back in the win column to keep their season on track. As for Dunedin, they came so close to upsetting West Auckland in the second game of their round six series, but the Admirals proved to be too much.
Watch the game recap videos to catch up on all the NZIHL action from round 6.