There's a storm brewing through the Southern States. From Colorado to Mississippi, the mood is about to change. But why would the mood change now?
One word: Playoffs.
After a seriously physical season, the 2009 Chase for the President's Cup begins. Actually, it's already started as of last night with Rocky Mountain Rage and Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees picking up victories in the opening games of the postseason.
But that's just the start of this intriguing playoff format. Simply put, four teams (the four lower seeded teams to be exact) will battle in a Best of Three series to find out who faces the top seeds in the conference in a Best of Seven series.
In other words, like the 64th and 65th team in the NCAA Tournament, those four lower seeds have to play their way into the dance...even though they're already there.
With that said, here now are this year's playoff brackets.
Considered the hottest team in the CHL down the stretch, RGV won four straight en route to their Game One showdown with the Corpus Christi Ice Rays.
They didn't take long to disappoint as they went on a four goal onslaught in the first period to take game one 5-1 and move one game away from securing a spot against Texas in the Quarterfinals.
But Corpus Christi is used to having their backs against the wall.
Bear in mind that they had to fight it out, at times literally, with defending Cup Champions Arizona to get into the postseason to begin with.
If the Rays can settle down and regain their focus, they might be able to send this to a decisive Game Three with a chance to take the series away from the motivated Killer Bees.
The Odessa Jackalopes know what it's like to win, but they have yet to place their name on the Ray Miron President's Cup. But they are hoping that 2009 ends with them as President's Cup Champs.
Standing in their way is an armed and dangerous Laredo Bucks team. The Bucks have tasted the sweet top of the mountain once before.
In 2006, they were the CHL Champions, but since then, they have had trouble getting to the Finals.
This season, Laredo garnered 77 points, enough to punch their ticket to the playoffs.
As for Odessa, they garnered up 84 points and sole possession of both the Southwest Division and the No. 2 Seed in the Southern Conference.
Led by Sebastien Thinel's 97 points, the Lopes are looking to continue their dominance of the Southern Conference and hope to get things done when the puck drops this weekend.
Their series is slated to start this Friday in Odessa.
The Texas Brahmas are considered the most dangerous team in the Southern Conference. And their record alone has proven that.
Thanks to Scott Sheppard's 66 points, the Brahmas were able to acquire 90 points, control of the Southeast Division, and the top spot in the Southern Conference for this year's playoffs.
The Bulls of the Lone Star State know that they will either have to deal with Rio Grande Valley or Corpus Christi when they start play this weekend.
But just having the privilege of being considered one of the frontrunners for the President's Cup this postseason is just fine with them.
But like all teams, they want more than just a pat on the back...they want the President's Cup.
The Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs are tired. They fought tooth and nail not only to make it to the postseason, but also to possibly win their division.
But in the end, they had to settle. But now, they are looking to make good on their fight.
Standing in their way is the always dangerous Rocky Mountain Rage, led by the RM Triple Threat of Daymen Rycroft, Colt King and fully recovered Clay Plume, the Rage secured their first playoff berth in franchise history.
In the process, they managed to secure their first playoff win last night with a victory over the Mudbugs.
The winner of this Best of Three series will not have an easy path to the Finals though.
Whoever comes out on top in the final two games will have to travel to dangerous territory in Loveland, Colorado to battle the Armed and Dangerous Colorado Eagles.
Game Two is slated for tomorrow night in Mudbugs Country.
What a difference an All Star Break can make. At the break, the Oklahoma City Blazers were neck and neck with the Colorado Eagles for best record in the CHL.
At the break, the Blazers were poised to be the team to beat following the CHL All Star Game in Loveland. At the break, the Blazers looked unstoppable....
What a difference, indeed.
When the Blazers began to falter down the stretch, the Mississippi River Kings took over and ran the table for their own postseason dreams.
In the end, the Kings went on a huge nine game winning streak to secure a playoff spot, the division and a date with destiny.
However, they were not satisfied with just finishing on top at the end of the regular season.
They wanted more.
Now the two best teams in the Northeast Division will lock horns this weekend to find out who goes to the Conference Finals/CHL Semifinals.
But considering how tough the Kings have been playing, could anyone not see them heading to the next round?
The Colorado Eagles won their sixth straight Division Championships. The Colorado Eagles clinched their sixth straight postseason berth. The Colorado Eagles clinched their third Governor's Cup Trophy.
The Colorado Eagles are the top seed in the Northern Conference, and have more than guaranteed that the road to the President's Cup goes through the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland, Colorado...
But these firm believers of Old-Time Hockey are not resting on those accomplishments...even though the team has only existed for six years.
While their I-25 Rivals Rocky Mountain battle Bossier-Shreveport, the Eagles are still hard at work.
Despite having a few days to regain their strength, they know that the season has just completely started for them.
Instead of taking that time to rest their bodies, the NoCo Birds are back practicing and preparing for a slugfest against either the Mudbugs or Rage.
Usually, I pick a few players that make enough of an impact for their team, but unforunately, the Eagles have way too many weapons to just single out just a few individuals.
So instead of picking one, let's just put it this way: From top to bottom, the Eagles are stacked and poised to make another run to the President's Cup Finals.
And it's hard to bet against the Eagles when it comes to the postseason...especially when all their players are running (or skating for that matter) on all cylinders.
If this is how Old-Time Hockey looks, punch my ticket to a Glass-Level seat, because there is nothing better than seeing an entire team band together and turn tragedy into triumph.
Besides, there is a reason why they are picked to be one of the teams in the Championship.
The Eagles start their Chase to the President's Cup this Sunday night in Loveland.