Jan. 23 notebook: Let’s talk about Cup seeding scenarios!

This is the time of the year where things really start to get interesting.

With two weeks to go until the Cup playoffs begin, the seeding picture is starting to become clearer and clearer with each game that passes. It’s hard to find any league game that doesn’t have some sort of stakes when it comes to where teams are going to finish in the standings.

I have been told that the league will do the same thing it did last year, where the top four teams from each division will qualify for its respective Cup playoff. So, with that in mind, let’s break down what things are looking like in all four of the MCSSIHL divisions.

MENNEN DIVISION
IF the season ended today, here’s what the Mennen Cup semifinal match-ups would be:
1-Morris Knolls-Hills vs. 4-Chatham
2-Randolph vs. 3-Morristown-Beard

— The one thing we know for sure at this point is that Morris Knolls-Hills will be the top seed after finishing its division schedule with a 6-1-1 record (13 points). It will play the fourth seed, which in all likelihood will be Chatham or Madison (more on that below).

— Morris Knolls-Hills, Randolph, and Morristown-Beard have all definitively qualified for the Mennen Cup.

— It seems extremely likely that Randolph and Morristown-Beard will be the 2v3 game. Each team has one league game remaining, as both teams have one game left against Chatham. There is an outside chance that Chatham could potentially catch Morristown-Beard for the 3-seed, but it would need to win out in its final three league games against Madison, Randolph, and Morristown-Beard to do so. If that happens, it would be tied with the Crimson with 8 points, and tiebreakers would determine who gets the nod.

— Speaking of Chatham, the Cougars have a big game on Monday against Madison. The two teams are currently tied for fourth with two points each, but Chatham has two games in hand. Monday is Madison’s final division game, so a Chatham win would clinch a spot in the top-four and would eliminate Madison. Madison would need to win this game, and Chatham would have to gain no more than one point in its final two games in order for the Dodgers to definitively get in. Two points for Chatham in those final two games would bring tiebreaker scenarios into play.

HALVORSEN DIVISION
IF the season ended today, here’s what the Halvorsen Cup semifinal match-ups would be:
1-Morristown vs. 4-KJS United
2-Mendham vs. 3-Mountain Lakes-Boonton

— Let’s just start with this- if those seeds hold for the rest of the way, then we have the potential for two great match-ups in the semifinals. Just look at what has happened this week- KJS United earned a 1-1 tie with Morristown on Friday, and Morristown won 2-0 in the match-up earlier this season. Mountain Lakes-Boonton, on the other hand, just beat Mendham, 2-1 on Thursday, after falling 4-2 earlier this year. Those two potential semifinal match-ups have been extremely competitive this season.

— Morristown currently is in possession of first place. It has three division games remaining against Mountain Lakes-Boonton, Mendham, and Roxbury. If it gets four points in those three games, it will be the one-seed, no matter what. It has a huge tilt against Mendham on Friday- if it only wins that game, it will be the one-seed, no matter what. So, Morristown is in very good shape to win the regular season division title.

— Morristown, Mendham, and Mountain Lakes-Boonton have all clinched top-four spots.

— Mendham is currently in second with eight points (4-2) and has two league games remaining against Morristown and KJS United. If it wins those final two games, it at the very least will be the two seed. It could potentially catch Morristown for the top spot, but it would need to win out and get some help.

— Mountain Lakes-Boonton has qualified for the Halvorsen Cup and currently is in third place. It has two games remaining against KJS United (Monday) and Morristown (Tuesday). It could pass Mendham to move into the 2-spot if it wins out and Mendham loses out. There’s even a slight possibility it could tie for the one-seed: if it wins out, Morristown loses its final three games, and Mendham loses to KJS- that would be a scenario where both Mountain Lakes-Boonton and Mendham finish with 10 points and it would come down to tiebreakers.

— KJS United needs just two points in its final three games against Mountain Lakes-Boonton, Roxbury, and Mendham to qualify for the Cup. If it wins out and Morristown loses out, it would tie with Mendham for the top spot bringing tiebreakers into the equation.

— Last-place Roxbury, at 0-5-1, has a slim chance to qualify. It would need to sweep its final two games against KJS United and Morristown, and would need KJS United to lose against Mountain Lakes on Monday and against Mendham on Feb. 4.

HAAS DIVISION
IF the season ended today, here’s what the Haas Cup semifinal match-ups would be:
1-Mount Olive-Hopatcong-Hackettstown vs. 4-Vernon
2-Park Regional vs. 3-West Morris

— There is still a lot to be worked out in this division. MO/HO/HA, Park, and West Morris all still have 3 division games left, while Vernon and Gill St. Bernard’s each still have 4 to go. So, we’re going to try to keep this as simple as possible because there are a lot of moving parts with a lot of hockey still to be played.

— Let’s start with what we know for sure: Montville, at 1-8 with just one league game remaining, cannot move into a top-four spot to qualify. MO/HO/HA, on the other hand, is the only team that we can say is definitely in at this point.

— MO/HO/HA controls its own destiny for the top seed. It is 6-0-1 (13 points) with three games remaining against Park Regional and Gill St. Bernard’s (twice). Simply put, if it only wins two of its final three games, it wins the regular season title and the top seed. If it gets three points in its final three games, it is the top seed with no tiebreakers needed, no matter what.

— Park Regional, West Morris, and Vernon could all theoretically catch MO/HO/HA for the top seed, but again, a lot of hockey still to be played, so I’m going to hold off on those scenarios until things get narrowed down a bit.

— Gill St. Bernard’s is currently on the outside looking in, in fifth place at 2-4, but with four league games left it still can qualify. It trails Vernon by two points for the fourth spot, and those teams are slated to meet on Wednesday which could go a long way towards determining things.

— I’ll do a similar post to this next weekend since scenarios should be a bit clearer in the Haas by then.

CHARETTE DIVISION
IF the season ended today, here’s what the Charette Cup semifinal match-ups would be:
1-Bernards-Somerville-Middlesex vs. 4-Morris Catholic-St. Elizabeth
2-Newton-Lenape Valley vs. 3-High Point-Wallkill Valley-Kittatinny

— Bernards-Somerville-Middlesex controls its own destiny for the top seed. It needs just two points in its final two games against Morris Catholic and HP/WV/K to clinch it.

— Bernards-Somerville-Middlesex, Newton-Lenape Valley, and High Point-Wallkill-Kittatinny have all clinched spots in the top-four.

— Parsippany Regional is in last place at 0-6 with two league games left, and trails Morris Catholic by three points for the fourth and final playoff spot. If it wants to qualify, it first needs to win out against Morris Catholic and High Point, and would need Morris Catholic to lose its other two league games against Bernards-Somerville-Middlesex and Newton-Lenape Valley.

Be sure to keep checking The Morris-Sussex Hockey Report for updated coverage every day now through the end of the season!

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