High School Playoff Primer (First Round)

2019 NYSPHSAA Ice Hockey Championships

The high school regular season wrapped up last week which means playoff matchups have been determined.

Division I

Syracuse wrapped up their undefeated regular season with a 13-0 win over Watertown IHC Saturday. The win put them at 24 league points (12-0-0), just ahead of second place West Genesee (11-1-0) who has 22. Wrapping up the top six are Fayetteville-Manlius (9-2-1), Rome Free Academy (9-3-0), Baldwinsville (7-5-0), and Christian Brothers Academy (6-4-2). These six teams get a first-round bye under the new play-off format for Section III.

Missing play-offs this season are #11 Watertown ICH (2-9-0), #12 Ontario Bay (1-11-0), and #13 Mohawk Valley (1-11-0).

The first-round playoff matchups are:

Tuesday, February 12th

#9 Cazenovia (4-8-0) at #8 Liverpool (4-8-0)

Prediction: Goaltender Logan Palmer is the backbone of the Cazenovia team. He has routinely made 30+ saves per game all season long. In fact, 12 of the 17 games Palmer started saw him stop over thirty shots. His season high was 66 saves in a 4-0 loss to Baldwinsville. I don’t think Liverpool has the fire power to put up enough shots or enough high quality shots to win this one. Cazenovia squeaks by 3-2.

Wednesday, February 13th

#10 Fulton (4-8-0) at #7 Cicero-North Syracuse (6-5-1)

Prediction: Fulton won the regular season matchup by a score of 5-4 one month ago. Fulton only managed 18 shots on goal, but still scored on five of them. I don’t think they will be as lucky this time around. CNS wins it 4-2 with an empty netter.

Some of the second round matchups will depend on the outcome of first-round games, but here is what we know so far:

Friday, February 15th

#6 Christian Brothers Academy (6-4-2) at #3 Fayetteville Manlius (9-2-1)

These two teams haven’t faced each other since December 8 when they played to a 2-2 tie. CBA is coming into this game with a five game winning streak, but FM is riding a 4 game streak of their own. My gut is telling me to take the favorite in this one. Fayetteville Manlius 5-2

Highest Remaining Seed from 1st Round at #2 West Genesee (11-1-0)

I honestly don’t think it matters who West Genesee plays in this game, but based on my predictions it would be CNS. After starting their season 0-3-0 the Wildcats seemed to have worked out the kinks. Their only losses since then have been to Canton (2nd in Section X) and Syracuse (1st in Section III). They have won their last six games by a combined score of 35-4. West Genny wins this one 5-1.

#5 Baldwinsville (7-5-0) at #4 Rome Free Academy (9-3-0)

If you look at the top 15 players sorted by points for Section III Division I, you will find three RFA players in that list. Danny Mecca (35 points in 14 games), Jake Hall (33 points in 15 games), and Griffin Eychner (29 points in 15 games) are vital to the success of the Black Knights. If the Baldwinsville defense and goaltender Tom Blais can shut those three down they have a solid shot of winning this game. However, I think RFA will be too much handle and the Black Knights skate to a 5-2 victory.

Lowest Remaining Seed from 1st Round at #1 Syracuse (12-0-0)

Going by my predictions they will be hosting Cazenovia in this game, a team they beat 10-0 back in December. It shouldn’t be difficult to do that again the second time around. I pick Syracuse to win by a score of 8-0.

Division II

With their 4-2 win over Cortland-Homer Friday night, Skaneateles finished the regular season at 10-0-2 and control of first place in Section III. Cortland-Homer was second with a final record of 8-2-2. Both teams have an automatic bye into semi-finals.

Missing play-offs is New Hartford who ended the regular season 0-11-1 in league play.

Round 1 play-off games are as follows:

Friday, February 15th

#5 Clinton (3-7-2) at #4 Whitesboro (5-4-3)

It’s difficult to beat the same team twice in one season, but Whitesboro is rolling right now. It appears this team goes on hot and cold streaks. After losing three in a row they finished the regular season by tying Skaneateles 4-4 and beating New Hartford 5-1. Before those three losses they were unbetean in their previous nine games. In the two matchups against Clinton, the Warriors from Whitesboro won 7-4 and the two teams tied 4-4. I think Whitesboro will keep thier hot streak rolling right into playoffs and take down the neighboring Warriors 3-2 in a nail biter.

#6 Auburn (4-8-0) at #3 Oswego (7-5-0)

The season series is split 1-1 between these two teams. Auburn won 5-3 back in mid-December while Oswego won 4-0 just under a month ago. Auburn just broke a seven game losing streak with their 4-1 win over New Hartford on Friday. Oswego had a tough schedule to wrap up thier season, losing 5-2 to Cortland-Homer and 7-1 to Skaneateles before defeating Clinton 4-3 last Thursday. Oswego just appears to be the better team at this point in the season and I feel comfortable picking them to win this one by a score of 4-1.

Do you disagree with these predictions? Who is your pick to win the Section III Championship from each division? Let me know on Facebook or Twitter!

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