A bit over a week ago we concluded a project that's been in the works for a long time - the ECL is waiting on its ninth season, the Finnish community has enjoyed eSM's and whatnot, GCL is alive and kicking and even the RCL has been running for some time. The thing that was missing was something for our Swedes, who make up a large portion of the community. Well now, some months back we announced a change to this stalemate as we launched the SCL, which is the very project I referred to at the start. It's been a long road, 22 teams signed up and we were treated to some high quality hockey all along the season.
The regular season kicked off on Tuesday, 16th of April with a 22-team regular season. Teams were divided into two groups, out of which the eight best would make it into the playoffs. It's often a point of debate wether or not a final seed into the playoffs should be overly speculated, as in the end in order to be a champion you need to beat everyone, right? Well, one team certainly took this into consideration and finished above everyone else - Bucketeers bested the opposition by a wide margin in the group stage as they went a perfect 20-0-0, overcoming teams such as the eventual champion Vesa Pompa HC and the respectable Northern Stars (RIP) along the way. The "Buckets" were a clear 1st place seed into the playoffs, but the five remaining teams of the top six were all neck and neck, finishing within a five point margin of each other in the following order: Northern Ascendancy (35p), Vesa Pompa HC (34p), AIK Hockey (33p), Synergy Hockey (32p) and Northern Stars (30p). It was great seeing some new teams entering our tournaments and although some might have had a tough time, we hope they will be back stronger next time around. Not only new teams had a difficult season though, one of the most mentionable playoff no-shows was Korpens Finest, who actually finished a lackluster season in last place of group 1. This is in no way an acceptable performance for a well established team, we'll be looking for these guys to bounce back in coming tournaments!
Interestingly enough, we ended up seeing the four best performers of the group stage paving their way into the final four. Through the first two rounfs, we only saw one series where the lower seeded team overcame the higher seed, this example was Stayhard Stallions (5) beating Cannonieris (4) in seven, so we can't talk about any kind of major upset here. "The playoffs are a different beast" - that's a phrase heard in the hockey world quite often and it's even considered a cliché, but it's also the cold hard truth all too often. That was the case in the final four of the SCL's inaugural season.
We saw Bucketeers come in sporting an undefeated group stage record and Northern Ascendancy marching on stage with the championship in sight only to see Vesa Pompa and AIK steal the show - Vesa Pompa doing so in a very convincing manner to add insult to injury. We all know how that ended by now.
If you for some reason missed out on the action from the finals at Birdie, please check out our broadcast below:
Most Points: @Tacterz, Northern Ascendancy, 35 Goals, 36 Assists, 71 Points in 20 games
Most Goals: @FlyerKungen, AIK Hockey, 43 Goals, 26 Assists, 69 Points in 18 games
Most Assists: @pajenc, AIK Hockey, 18 Goals, 38 Assists, 56 Points in 18 games
Most Hits by a Forward: @bede, Verket, 96 Hits in 20 games
Best +/-: @Tacterz, Northern Ascendancy, +63 in 20 games
Most Points by a Defenseman: @Drunkendefender, SPARTANS, 20 Goals, 26 Assists, 46 Points in 20 games
Most Goals by a Defenseman: @Drunkendefender, SPARTANS, 20 Goals, 26 Assists, 46 Points in 20 games
Most Assists by a Defenseman: @The_Alpha_Furyan, Northern Ascendancy, 11 Goals, 28 Assists, 39 Points in 20 games
Most Hits by a Defenseman: @Skogan, Nordic Vipers, 157 Hits in 20 games
Now, enough with the writing - let's see some pictures:
Northern Ascendancy went into the finals with a commanding favorite status, but struggled mightily, ending up at fourth place.
Before the final day commenced, players gathered for a photoshoot and some interviews.
AIK captain @Bjono being interviewed for a video segment.
AIK Hockey and Vesa Pompa HC went head to head in the Finals, @FlyerKungen with a staredown of the opposition.
The trophy was up for display during the final day of the Finals.
Tensions were rising as players awaited their turn to take the stage.
Vesa Pompa HC remained focused and felt right at home on stage all weekend.