National Division play-off preview | Group A

After the regular season came to a close in the Planet Ice NIHL National Division last weekend, the focus shifts to the play-offs for those that finished in the top eight.

Unlike last season, where a straight quarter-final was played, the eight have been split into two groups and will go head-to-head, home and away over the next three weeks, with the top two teams in each group advancing to the semi-finals.

Group A consists of the reigning champions and regular season title-winners Leeds Knights, National Cup runners-up Hull Seahawks, Peterborough Phantoms, who secured the fifth seed last weekend, and eighth-placed Bees IHC, returning for their second post-season appearance after missing out last year.

But how does each team fare coming into this three-week mini-league?

Leeds Knights

The reigning champions are, to many, the odds-on favourites to go back-to-back.

After securing the regular season title with two weeks remaining, the Knights defeated Sheffield Steeldogs twice and then Solway Sharks, but lost on the final day to the Hull Seahawks, in what they hope won’t be a preview of this weekend’s action against the fourth seed.

Ending the season in dominant fashion, going 15-2 in their last 17 games, including an 11-game win streak (their longest of the season), they’re coming into the play-offs with good momentum.

  • Record vs Hull Seahawks – P8 W4 L4 GF 28 GA 24
  • Record vs Peterborough Phantoms – P6 W6 L0 GF 34 GA 12
  • Record vs Bees IHC – P5 W5 L0 GF 23 GA 11

Hull Seahawks

Last season, the Seahawks came bottom of the National Division. This season has seen the side win 17 more regular season games, finish comfortable in the play-offs and reach the final of the National Cup, beating Leeds over two legs to reach the final two.

Finishing the season on a high with two wins from two to snap a four-game losing run, they have decent momentum going into the play-offs.

And with the momentum generated throughout the season, plus their solid record against the Knights, there’s no reason why the Seahawks can’t compete for top spot in Group A.

  • Record vs Leeds Knights – P8 W4 L4 GF 24 GA 28
  • Record vs Peterborough Phantoms – P6 W3 L3 GF 26 GA 26
  • Record vs Bees IHC – P5 W3 L2 GF 23 GA 16

Peterborough Phantoms

The Phantoms were upset in the quarter-finals last season by eventual runners-up Raiders IHC. They haven’t been as dominant in the regular season as last year, but still boast solid records against the rest of their group.

Another side who went two for two in the final weekend, including a win against Bees IHC, they’ll be coming in with good momentum.

And with an identical regular season record against the fourth-seeded Seahawks, they’ll have high hopes of pipping them to secure a spot in the Final Four.

  • Record vs Leeds Knights – P6 W0 L6 GF 12 GA 34
  • Record vs Hull Seahawks – P6 W3 L3 GF 26 GA 26
  • Record vs Bees IHC – P5 W3 L2 GF 21 GA 20

Bees IHC

The only side in Group A with a win record of below 50% in the regular season, Bees IHC are the underdogs in this group.

However, they have claimed wins against Hull and Peterborough during the regular season, and two of their three losses against the Seahawks have come in overtime.

They’re definitely not a team to count out. This eighth seed could cause some surprises!

  • Record vs Leeds Knights – P5 W0 L5 GF 11 GA 23
  • Record vs Hull Seahawks – P5 W2 L1 OTL 2 GF 16 GA 23
  • Record vs Peterborough Phantoms – P5 W2 L3 GF 20 GA 21

Click here to read a preview of Group B!

PLEASE NOTE: Details of all National Division play-off fixtures can be found here.

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