The ADHSHL Playoffs kick off on Thursday night and much like everything else over the past year and some change, things are different. There will be no Schulman Cup awarded. No H&S Ventures Cup. No Commissioner’s Cup. No banners to be waved on the ice following a Championship victory. Instead, in an effort to just give the student-athletes more time on ice after losing much of their year, a three-game (or in some cases, two-game) postseason will be played at Great Park ICE & FivePoint Arena in Irvine, CA.
After a five-game regular season, which isn’t much of a sample size to separate the teams, really, the league put together a “Selection Committee” of sorts (think the NCAA Basketball Tournament in March) to determine not only the seeding, but who goes to the postseason. 2021 will mark the first time that not all teams will participate in the playoffs, a strategy the ADHSHL hopes to use as a test for future seasons. “We certainly wanted to give every team a fair chance to make their case on the ice to reach the playoffs. Five games isn’t that many to go off of, so we assembled a group to assess each team’s play and rank the teams one through eight in each division,” said league Commissioner Matt Blanchart.
The playoff format is simple and models a standard three-game guarantee format. The top eight teams in Varsity Division 1, Varsity Division 2 and the Junior Varsity Division are ranked and will matchup in the First Round. Winners move to the Semifinals, those not so fortunate will play in the Consolation Semifinals. Those will be followed by the Championship Game, and third, fifth and seventh place games. For the teams that were not selected to the respective division tournaments, a two-game round robin exhibition will be played to give the players a last hurrah in this ever-so-strange, shortened season.
And if the Selection Committee thought five games is a small sample size, consider Bellarmine College Prep from San Jose. The Bells were restricted from travelling to play games out of Santa Clara County and were, unfortunately, unable to participate in the shortened regular season. Now, however, the Bells are free to roam within the State of California and will be joining the ADHSHL for the postseason as the division’s eighth team. Only seven competed throughout the regular season. But where do you place the Bells on the bracket? Of the obstacle ahead, Blanchart said, “We will evaluate all teams after the conclusion of the regular season on May 15. While Varsity Division 2 and Junior Varsity have their brackets set, we will assess where to place Bellarmine in Varsity Division 1 in a manner that is as fair as possible.” When asked if Bellarmine would be automatically slotted into the eight-seed, Blanchart replied “Not necessarily.”
As for the other two divisions, having nine teams miss out on the playoffs is a new venture. Each team will play two games against other non-qualifiers, a move that the league described as a “chance for teams to play a few more games” until the season’s drop-dead date of May 22. Saddleback United and Capistrano United captured the Varsity Division 2 and Junior Varsity number one seeds headed into the postseason, with the Coyotes Varsity Division 2 squad and Carlsbad United eeking out the eighth and final spot in each bracket. Several factors were included in the playoff selection process, including points earned in the regular season, head-to-head matchups, and strength of schedule, among others.
With just two weeks left in the 2021 ADHSHL season, it is time to celebrate the student-athletes for their hard work and dedication in navigating this shortened season. While there will be no trophies, they will carry all the glory knowing that they, as well as the league, did not give up on holding a season. Then, it’s right back to the drawing board for the ADHSHL, as the 2021-2022 season begins in October. #NoDaysOff
For more information on the ADHSHL Playoffs, log on to ADHSHL.com. Select games can be seen live and for free on CIH Media and accessed via archives later with a Premium Membership. Head to cih-media.com/premium to sign up today!
Erik Pessolano (Twitter and Instagram: @erik_pessolano)