Northwestern Division Playoff Questionnaire

by Charles Woodall-Pike

Bellingham: Can the Blazers ride their second-half surge to the Thorne Cup Final?

After some early-season struggles, the Blazers rebounded nicely in the second half. Thanks to an 11-game winning streak, Bellingham ended up with the third seed and host Southern Oregon in the first round. It also means the Blazers will not see Idaho until the Division Final. Bellingham put up a good fight the last time they faced Idaho, winning once in a shootout and keeping the IceCats close in another game. Playing Idaho that well late in the season could make Bellingham a dark horse favorite to take the Northwest.

Idaho: Will the IceCats make it eight straight Thorne Cup Final appearances?

Idaho rolled through most of the regular season, taking the top seed with relative ease. However, the IceCats did have a few close calls in the second half. The IceCats needed 84 shots and double overtime to complete a sweep of Southern Oregon, along with shootout losses to Ogden and Bellingham in the second half of the season. While Idaho remains the clear favorite to represent the Northwest at the Thorne Cup Final, they still have two playoff series to get there and there are five other teams aiming to end the IceCats’ run of Thorne Cup Final appearances.

Lake Tahoe: Will the Icemen’s best season carry them to El Paso? 

Tahoe finished with their best record in team history with 59 points, surpassing the 56 points posted in their first year as the Bay Area Seals. The Seals made it all the way to the Thorne Cup Final where they fell to the Idaho Jr. Steelheads. Five years later, Tahoe will look to make another run at the WSHL’s ultimate prize, which will likely involve going through Idaho. The Seals and Steelheads may now be the Icemen and IceCats, but Tahoe will look to avenge that Thorne Cup Final defeat in 2013 and capture a championship of their own.

Seattle: Can the Totems find the early season spark they had?

The Totems started out this season on a roll, going 6-0-1 in their first seven games. Entering the last weekend of the season, Seattle has won seven games total since that start. Two of those wins came recently at home against Southern Oregon and they have five wins against first-round opponent West Sound. If the Totems can get another hot run going, that could spell trouble for the rest of the Northwest.

Southern Oregon: Can the Spartans’ goaltending carry them in the playoffs?

The second half of the season saw the Spartans put up some great efforts against Idaho and Tahoe. Most of that can be credited to their goaltending, specifically that of Austin Toussaint. Hot goaltending can be the biggest factor going into the playoffs and the Spartans’ goalie has been lights out in some big games this season. Look for Toussaint to be the X-factor in Southern Oregon’s first-round matchup with 


West Sound: Can the Warriors exorcise their playoff demons?

In their first two seasons in the WSHL, the Vancouver Rangers made the playoffs as the four-seed but fell in the first round both times. After battling for the second seed in the Northwest, West Sound ended up back in the fourth seed. The Warriors have struggled for most of the second half but they can still turn it around by capturing their first playoff series win in team history.