"If you told me back in September that we could have one game to win the division and we had to go to North Battleford to play, then I would."
This was the message Klippers head coach and general manager Clayton Jardine delivered to his players during yesterday morning's practice at the West Central Events Centre. One game to win the division; it's a goal the Klippers could achieve for the first time since the 2014-2015 season.
Tonight's game at the North Battleford Civic Centre between the Kindersley Klippers and the Battlefords North Stars will determine who finishes first in the Global Ag Risk Solutions Division heading into the playoffs.
It will be interesting to watch who comes out on top in this one. Not only is the season series pretty even between the two, but their goal differentials are within one goal of each other (Kindersley's 44 vs. Battlefords' 43). While the North Stars have scored more goals at 209 to Kindersley's 181, the Klippers have allowed the second-fewest goals at 137 to the North Stars' 166.
This evening's winner will have the chance to finish as the first or second seed in the playoff bracket, meaning that team will have home ice on their side for either the majority or entirety of the playoffs. Not to mention they'll also have a more favourable matchup against one of the Survivor Series victors. Whoever loses tonight will enter the playoffs as the fourth or fifth seed and will face a tougher matchup in either the Nipawin Hawks or the Melfort Mustangs (depending on their last games of the schedule).
But technically speaking, not every form of a Klippers victory will guarantee them the top spot in the group. The SJHL's Twitter account sent out a tweet following the weekend's results and perfectly described the different scenarios involved in tonight's contest.
Tie-Breaker fun.— SJHL (@theSJHL) March 3, 2019
BAT 1 point up on KIN
BAT 32 ROW / KIN 31 ROW
Season series KK 5-4-0-0 (10 pts) / BAT 4-4-0-1 (9 pts)
If tied after regulation on Tuesday:
KIN wins in OT - ROW is tied, KIN takes season series and division.
KIN wins in SO - BAT takes division due to ROW.
To better understand the above situations, this is how the tie-breaking rules affect this evening's matchup to decide who falls where in the standings.
- Team with the most ROWS (regulation and OT wins, excludes SO wins)
- Team with the greater number of Head to Head points
- Team with the greater goal differential (goals for minus goals against)
The Klippers were able to stay in the hunt for the division lead after splitting their last home games of the season last weekend. Friday night saw Kindersley drop their game versus the visiting Humboldt Broncos 3-1, but then they bounced back on Saturday night with a 6-2 win against the Notre Dame Hounds.
Recapping their last two games, Jardine gave his thoughts on what his team did right and what they will have to improve on versus the North Stars.
Despite tonight's season finale being on a Tuesday night, the teams can expect a loud crowd at the Civic Centre. The majority of fans in the stands will be cheering for the players in black, silver and white uniforms, which should be viewed as a good thing by the Klippers, since it will give them a chance to play in a playoff-like atmosphere before the postseason begins.
Jardine, who celebrated his 28th birthday yesterday, would love nothing more for a belated birthday gift than to see his team succeed and take the division lead at the season's death. He shares his thoughts on what he'll be expecting on the ice in North Battleford.
Regardless of the outcome, the Klippers will wrap up the season in their highest position in the standings in the last three years.
Puck drop for tonight's battle is at 7:30 p.m. CST from North Battleford.