It's nice to see the weather report for the next few weeks. The holiday season is fun but when the calendar flips to Jan 1, we always get a little more stressed here at headquarters.
A solid string of single digit days is going to do wonders at Nokomis. Oh beautiful Nokomis. We can't wait to visit you to see your amazing sunrises. To smell the fresh air. To feel the breeze. To hear the sound of the puck bouncing off the back of the goals. Over and over.
to get everyone all riled up I love to put together the Official Predictions. It reminds us all that the USPHC is right around the corner. So here it is, enjoy.
Women's Division - Some BIG names are missing this year. Lululemon and Orangetheory Fitness, who made up the championship game last year, are both surprising out of the tournament, which means we'll have a new champ hoisting the Golden Shovel.
Before the Luluempire, runners up in '16 (Consistently Quatro), '17 (Shenanigans), '18 (Top Shelf Tricks) are all in this year's field, officially making it the Battle of the Bridesmaids.
Teams To Watch: Top Shelf Tricks, Consistently Quatro
40+ Open Division - I'm not sure I remember what the tournament was like without Tradition Mortgage hoisting the shovel in the 40+. It's been 5 or 6 years, so of course, that's the prediction until someone bounces them.
But, Wright Homes/Four Star will make a run. Also, don't underestimate 10-Meter Radius. In my eyes, this is a three horse battle and it may come down to who plays who in the Semis.
Winner: Tradition Mortgage
Teams to Watch: 10 Meter Radius, Wright Homes/Four Star, Screaching Pterodactyls
40+ Rink Rat - New division here with new teams which makes it really hard to predict. In fact, I really only listed the teams to watch based on teams who's names I've seen before.
Warriors have made the jump from the Rat to the old man league. Van Buren Men should make a run, and RamRods have won games in the 40+. This division really is wide open.
Winner - WARRIORS
Teams to Watch - Van Buren Men, RamRods, Hanson Builders
Cedar Division - The Cedar is always a slug fest. With the field back to 32 teams, Sunday is going to be a grinder with no easy matchups in the bracket. With some top finishing teams being promoted, some of the top teams coming out of pool play last year, who stumbled up on Sunday are going to be favorites. Additionally, a few teams who were promoted last year, are back after getting a taste of the Open.
I've picked Dangleberries in the past and got burned, and while they and Canadian Tuxedos are back, I really like some of the newer teams.
Winner - Frosty Beavers
Teams to Watch - Foundation House, Aquatic Plant Management, Dangleberries, Canadian Tuxedos, Jr. ManBearPigs
Rink Rat Division - The Rink Rat is so hard to predict. So many of the teams weren't in the USPHC last year, and top teams were promoted to the Cedar. But, we just like awkward middle school dances, you gotta pick someone, so here it goes.
This could be the year that Pond Scum gets promoted, but I don't think they have the layers to hoist the scoop. 16-Bit Legends lost to eventual runner up No Regretskies in the round of 16 (fitting), and have a shot, and the always favorited Little Lebowski's Urban Achievers will make a run as well. However, I believe this is the year that The Dekes of Hazard finally take the 'ship.
Winner - The Dekes of Hazard
Teams to Watch - Little Lebowski Urban Achievers, 16-Bit Legends, Pond Scum, Adventure North
Open Division - Last year, RJ Ryan had a pretty incredible run, Wright Homes/Four Star had their first loss in 4 years, and promoted teams made the Sunday field for the first time. Pretty exciting stuff. We've heard the whispers of players being added to rosters who are less than 12 months from their last NHL game so expect to see some surprises, and as always, incredibly competitive games.
With the bracket set up, winning your pool and not having to play in the Wild Card round will be key and how the Sunday bracket matchups fall in to place will make impacts to the championship.
2020 is a big year. Some of these names are getting older, and fresh legs are coming in. Lululemon is so good, as is Elevate. MGK has the overall #1 seed, and you can never rule out past champs Kemps (FKA Orangetheory Fitness) or Wright Homes/Four Star. Beauty Status has a chip on their shoulder not being seeded in Top 10 (they got the #11) so part of me wants to turn their bulletin board material into a target, but in the end, we're going with Elevate Hockey.
Winner - Elevate Hockey
Teams to Watch - Lululemon, Beauty Status, Tailgators, Woodstars, Wright Homes/Four Star