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SPL S4 Open Division Power 4 - Week 2

Author: Blades, 09/14/20

Blades writes about the top 4 teams in Open Division after week 1, and 2 teams that are in the hot seat...

There were plenty of ups and downs for our Open division teams after the first week of Season 4. While expectations were high for all 14 teams this week - there were surely enough surprises to keep all of us on our toes for the remainder of this season. Join me, as I highlight our “Power 4” teams from the Open division heading into Week 2 - as well as an additional look at two other clubs on the hot seat heading into Week 2!

#4 - New Jersey Minutemen (6th Place - 4Pts; 2-1-0)

The battle for the fourth spot in our Top 4 this week was a lot closer than I would have originally expected. Although the Minutemen share a 4-point record with 3 other teams in the division, the Minutemen have stood out this week among the others. Opening night for the Minutemen against the Alphas was played, and won, without offensive star MNSOWinner. Ehlasteer, the hero for the evening, came up big in every aspect for the Minutemen with an impressive 2 goals, 1 assist and 5 saves. The following evening the Minutemen found revenge over the Spuds after last season’s disappointing loss. With an incredible 7 goals, MNSO carried his team to a 7-2 victory over a now-struggling 0-3-0 Buffalo team. However, the hot streak would come to an end on Friday evening as the Minutemen ultimately fell to the Michigan Mallards 1-4. 

I believe that the Minutemen performed a bit above what was expected when looking at their week one schedule. The Mallards were definitely the biggest hurdle for the Minutemen this week and, although they were not able to jump that hurdle, a sneaky win over the Alphas and a large dub over the Spuds this week stands out over teams who come in with the same record, like the Oklahoma Exotics (4Pts 2-1; [14-0 W vs Empire State  // 10-2 W vs Glizzies // 3-9 L vs Winnipeg]) or the Winnipeg Wrath (4Pts 2-1; [9-3 W vs Oklahoma // 1-0 Forfeit W vs Tokyo // 4-11 L vs Orlando]). However, this middle-of-the-pack team has a make or break week 2, with matches against the Choco Coco, Canada Camels and the Somalia Slappers. If they can finish 2-1 in this second week the Minutemen could easily make a second-half push towards the top of Open division this season.

#3 - Michigan Mallards (3rd Place - 6Pts; 3-0-0)

Three teams went undefeated in week 1 - the third team being the Michigan Mallards. There has been a decent amount of expectation this season for the Michigan Mallards. After some heavy pickups this offseason, their first week of play did not disappoint. The Mallards’ signing of Toker is among the largest moves any Open team made during the offseason and it has, so far, proved to be instrumental in the successes for the Mallards thus far.

Opening night saw the Mallards facing off against the Somalia Slappers, who were expected to come out hot in week 1 with the additions of players like Rudd and Kappa. However, the Mallards flew to victory 8-5, with highlights coming in the form of 5 Saves from Toker, 5 Assists from Blades, and 5 Goals from The Phil. Their next victory, which I believe to be more impressive than the first, came over the New Jersey Minutemen on Friday night 4-1. The Mallards started their defense-heavy lineup in the form of Blades, Soup and Toker, in an attempt to shut down the red-hot MNSOWinner - and they did just that. MNSO was held without a single point in this matchup and the Mallards flew on to an undefeated week with an additional win in the form of a forfeit win over the Athens Alphas. The Mallards have a tough week 2 ahead of them with games against other undefeated opponents Choco Coco and the Canada Camels, as well as a game against the 2-1 Winnipeg Wrath. If the Mallards continue to play well as a team after a strong week 2, expect them to be battling it out for a promotional spot towards the end of the season.

#2 - Canada Camels (2nd Place - 6Pts; 3-0-0)

The Canada Camels have started their season 4 beautifully and have the ability to truly set themselves ahead of the pack when looking ahead at their week two schedule. While riding the opening night hype-train and playing all of their games on Wednesday, the Camels defeated all of their opponents in remarkable fashion. With four Camels starting this week and playing at least once a piece, each of these Camels tallied at least 5 points in their three games. Team captain, PooBallz, has been leading the way for the Camels to start this season with an impressive 13 Goals and 3 Assists (16 points - Tied-2nd in total points [Big Herb, Dolen PooBallz]) - and not far behind him is their other star player, Endrick, with 5 Goals and 7 Assists (12 points).

Victories over the Spuds and the Otters this week were handled with relative ease. Although both of these teams are solid competitors, the Camels did not seem to falter in the face of these familiar foes. Their closest victory this week comes in against the Tokyo Ghoulz, who gave them a run for their money, taking them all the way into overtime after finishing three periods at 5-5. PooBallz shot 50% in that game - scoring 4 of the 6 total goals for his team, while Endrick tallied 4 assists. An incredible showing on the Tokyo side from Resp (5 goals on 5 shots) was not enough and the Camels continued on. 

The Camels are heading into week 3 with games against the Minutemen, Alphas, and Mallards. If the Camels can sneak away with another 3 wins in week 2 they will have built themselves a nice nest for a spot in the top 2 for Open Division this season.

#1 - Choco Coco (1st Place - 6Pts; 3-0-0)

Putting the Choco Coco in the top position in our Power 4 this week may come as a shock to many members of the league. However, this group of players has managed to surprise the masses with three straight wins in week 1. Leading the division in goals, Parad1s - team Captain for the Coco, has emerged as a serious threat to all of the teams in Open division this season. With 15 goals on 25 shots, Parad1s has given his team the support it needs to put themselves at the top. 

The Choco Coco emerged with their first victory over the Orlando Otters 5-3 on Opening night. Following that close battle, the Coco made easy work of the Alphas 13-5 and the Spuds 11-1 the very next night. Choco Coco’s offensive style of play in each of their games has allowed them to suffocate their opponents. Choco Coco was not a team that was expected to be in first place at the end of week 1 - however, they are not there by mistake. This group is not to be underestimated and will surely test each team's ability. 

Choco Coco’s week 2 schedule will ultimately test the long-term durability of this team. With their week 2 games coming against teams comprised of mostly well-known SPL talent (Mallards, Minutemen, Slappers), the Coco will have to work harder than they did in the first week to retain their #1 spot.

Teams on the hot seat...

#1 - Somalia Slappers (9th Place - 2Pts; 1-2-0)

The Slappers came up quite short of expectations in their first week of season 4. Shortly after the roster freeze on opening day of season 4, the Slappers added Rudd - former Intermediate player for the Bangor Yetis - to their roster. An incredible move that surely had the ability to propel this Slappers team to the top. However, an unexpected opening night upset loss against the Georgia Glizzy Gladiators 4-7 shocked the Slappers. In that same evening a loss to the Michigan Mallards 5-8 put the Slappers at the bottom of the Open division. Although the Slappers did come out on top 10-4 over the Texas Templars on the final day of week 1, this win was expected and does not add much depth to their current record’s resume. 

I believe that the Slappers have the ability to bounce back in their second week. With games against the Minutemen, the Exotics and Choco Coco, if the Slappers come up with another 1-2 week it would put them far behind the leading pack and could prove detrimental towards any hope of promotion. A 3-0 week from Somalia is possible - and necessary. If the Slappers start off slow I could see roster changes happening. However, a win (or two) to start their week could be the jumpstart they need.

#2 - Orlando Otters (10th Place - 2Pts; 1-2-0)

Although the Otters are coming in among the bottom 5 teams of the Open division this week, the Otters are a much better team than their record suggests. However - there is one glaring issue that needs to be addressed: Why isn’t Iceman playing? Iceman could be the piece of the puzzle that is missing - and was missing in their two losses this week. Iceman, the most prominent skater on last season’s Shanghai team, has not seen a single period yet this season. Unfortunately for the Otters, Iceman had registered as a Free Agent after their Opening night woes against the Coco. 

However, the Otters schedule this week is without doubt their easiest week this season. With matches coming against Empire State, Georgia, and Texas I can easily see Iceman finally getting some playing time. But, if Iceman does not see playing time this week, the Otters’ successes may be overshadowed by the leaving of Iceman who has been actively shopping around. If I were the Otters, I would not want to head into the back half of the season without a reliable 4th player on the roster, especially someone like Iceman. Look for the Otters to shake things up in the locker room in one way or another in the coming weeks.