What is the Reward For The Tigers Finishing First In The Central?
Playing a team with more points than them in the standings Of Course
This year was crazy. The 4th place team in the East was better than the 1st place Team in the Central. Under the old format the Tigers would have played Lethbridge, but instead, they gotta travel the 828.2 KM'm via the Trans Canada Highway for a long distance first-round matchup.
Brandon started the season on fire. At one point in the season, they were 2nd in the East and in contention for a Home Ice Playoff Position.
The trade deadline saw Brandon decide to become sellers. Swift Current and Moose Jaw made significant moves and Brandon recouped 4-1st round picks sending away Kale Clague & Tanner Kaspick.
Tumble Down The Standings
Consequently, Brandon took a big tumble down the standings acquiring 9 points in 18 games for a .250% winning percentage.
Interestingly enough Brandon started that tumble after an OT loss to the Tigers on January 13th.
Brandon On A Roll
Guess when they ended the Tumble? An OT win against the Tigers on February 24th.
In the 11 games since Brandon has a .727 winning percentage. That includes defeating Moose Jaw twice, and Swift Current Once along the way.
Head To Head Games
Sat Dec 2nd BRN 5 @ MH 4 OT
Fri Dec 8th - MH 3 @ BRN 4 OT
Sat Jan 13th - MH 4 @ BRN 3 OT
Sat Feb 24th BRN 4 @ MH 3 OT
Home Ice Advantage
In this series Home Ice could be critical. Brandon has a .786 record at home this season. The Tigers Record is .657. They both have poor road records.
Both teams have very similar Special Teams stats. Both have mediocre Powerplays, and Both have terrible Penalty Kills. Brandon has also given up a league high 17 short-handed goals.
Even their injuries are similar. Both Teams have goaltenders out day to day.
Brandon is missing OA goalie Logan Thompson out with a day to day injury. As well as 16yr rookie Jonny Hooker with an upper-body injury who is week to week.
Tigers have Jordan Hollett out but hoping to be ready before Playoffs Start. Mason Shaw is also listed as indefinite but hopes to make an appearance in the series.
Who's The Favorite?
At this point, my Money is on Brandon. They will finish the season with more points and are rolling into the post-season on a Hot-Streak. The Tigers have continued their up and down roller coaster ride. They are a little healthier, but they haven't been playing as strong as they are capable of.
Mason Shaw could be an X-factor that changes things if he is able to squeak into the latter half of the first round, but you wonder how much missing an entire season will affect him.
Toss the dice this series could easily go 7 games.