ECL 5 - The Road So Far: Lite
We are back to take a look at the 49 teams that currently reside in Lite. For some, the season is already over with all 18 games being played but for many this week represents the final chance to sneak into a playoff spot. Who will get a chance to advance to Pro? Who will have to come back even hungrier for ECL 6? Lets find out!
[Please note that this article was written Monday afternoon, meaning the text refers to standings as they were on 2017-11-06]
ECL Lite - Group 1
At the very top of Group 1 we find Raging Monkeys who have turned in an impressive campaign as a rookie ECL franchise. Propelled by their insane goal scoring prowess (the team is averaging over 5 goals per game) they lead a group that looks to be very tight at the top. Behind RM we find four other teams (Finnish Hockey Legends, Lucky Strike, Freddie Mercury Institute and pre-season favorite Face Wash Hockey) within a span of just four points. This means the race for the 6th and final playoff spot will most likely come down to two teams, Puck Panthers and Roistot. Should one of these two not make it, they still have a decent chance to be one of the two "lucky 7ths"; meaning one of the two 7th place teams that make the Lite playoffs as a wild card. Teams Nuggetz, Terrific Tigers and PUNANEN REHTORI will have to consider this a learning season.
ECL Lite - Group 2
In Group 2 its the top trio of Penalty Box, EV Duisburg and Red Machine leading the charge with 20+ points. These powerhouses look to be the top seeds for a group that features quite a few known teams from the community. The trio is followed by the Finnish team with the un-pronounceable name (Rukoilevat Hinkkaajat), the Swedish-British hybrids Nottingham Chiefs and Russian RCL top team Ice Phoenix who all look poised to make the playoffs. Battling for the final playoff spot we find Kouvola Screaming Eagles and Phantoms HC who are still neck and neck in the race. Finally, Rasend Krokodil and Cold Turkeys will have to reload for ECL 6.
ECL Lite - Group 3
In ECL Lite Group 3 we find the second and third "Phantom HC"-teams in this division. Outside of Phantoms HC in Group 2, Group 3 features Deadly Phantoms HC and Rising Phantoms HC. Could "Phantoms" be the new favorite ECL team name and overtake previous champion "Nordic"? Only time will tell! Anyway, at the top of this group is the deadly version of the Phantoms who are on their way to making ECL Lite history by going undefeated throughout the entire regular season. I would not want to be the team facing this squad in the playoffs. Other teams that will most likely make the playoffs are Try Another Hole, HC Aurinko, Rising Phantoms HC, INF4MOUS and Pohjoista Voimaa with Soldiers of Odens and KulmalaHengaus both struggling to get in. Donec Reges will have to come back stronger in ECL 6.
ECL Lite - Group 4
Group 4 looks pretty much set at the top with Almost Famous clinching the top seed and The Beagle Boys and Mentula SKA finishing either 2nd or 3rd. Behind them we find veteran ECLers Elämäm Kiekko (who look poised for a deep playoff run), Nearbird Fighters of the RCL, Nordic Nosebleed and Breakers Of The Bone all in contention for spots 4-6. For South Sweden Panthers, DarrasStars and Papat - the ECL Lite season is over but odds are they will come back stronger next season from this experience.
ECL Lite - Group 5
Finally, we arrive at Group 5 where SGWEER United should clinch the top spot unless they lose both their final games and Squad Vilttiketju wins all of their remaining games. In the #3 spot we find Nordic Eagles, a new Swedish team that has been a positive surprise thus far and behind them at #4 is Rusty Bulls of the RCL. Other teams that could have a shot at the playoffs are Bucketeers, Slapshot Club Germany, Burns Beardy Bastards and RAKETTIPUTKET. At the bottom, HC Nappiaivot and Dirty Animals most likely will not make the playoffs this time but credit to them for hanging in there and collecting points.
That's it for ECL Elite, Pro and Lite. Good luck to all teams for the rest of the season and talk to you all again soon when the playoffs arrive.