Wednesday, July 14, 2010

New USHL division/playoff format leaked?

On the Tri-City Storm message board, Storm radio announcer Skip Berry posted something very interesting today related to the new USHL game schedule, along with the new divisional setup and playoff seeding.  You can view the message board thread here (you have to register to read the material posted).

I'm going to quote the post made by "tcstormradio" from the Storm message board below:

FYI... the USHL is still finalizing the schedule and should be out soon... they have taken longer than usual due to expansion and scheduling conflicts.

The teams will be scheduled in three divisions, however everything will show as conferences...

Western Conference:
Des Moines
Sioux City
Sioux Falls

Eastern Conference:
Cedar Rapids
Green Bay
Team USA

Des Moines and Dubuque will only play twice against each team in the Western Conference (outside of themselves 10 times head-to-head) due to divisional scheduling, which means they will only play a total of 22 games against the Western Conference and play the Eastern Conference 38 times this season.

The Storm will play 8 games each against Fargo, Lincoln, Omaha, Sioux City, and Sioux Falls and only 2 games each against the rest of the teams in the league. So the Storm will play a total of 44 games against the Western Conference and only 16 against the Eastern Conference.

Six teams from each conference will make the playoffs with the top two teams getting a first round bye.... the first rd will look like this... 3 seed vs. 6 seed and 4 seed vs. 5 seed... each series is a best of three in the first round and all three games to be played at the higher seeded teams arena.

After that, the teams winning in the first round will be reseeded and play the four teams who all had a first round bye...

It is my understanding that each series post the first round will continue to be a best of five, but the league may consider a best of seven for the Clark Cup Finals.

Hope this helps until they officially come out with something!

Very, very interesting.  If valid, I'm assuming the Stars would play TC, Omaha, Sioux City, Sioux Falls, and Fargo eight times next season, and play each other team in the USHL twice.  12 teams make the playoffs?  The entire first round of playoffs would be played at the higher seeded team's rink.  Big disadvantage for the #5 and #6 playoff seeded teams in both conferences.

Your thoughts?  It's tough to know if this is just speculation, or if it's fact.  Hopefully we'll hear something official from the USHL very soon.  By the way, thanks to the blog reader who brought this to my attention.  Much appreciated.


Layla said...

Just a note, I believe you have to register to read the board.

BellTolls said...

well, I didn't think it was possible, but somehow the USHL came up with an even more confusing format than I tried to predict last week. Since divisions don't apparently matter for anything, I hope we just see the teams listed by conference in the official standings. I don't want to have to look through the West and Central Division standings to figure out the top six teams that are in the Western Conference. That would make no sense.

Yeti said...

Thanks for the info, Layla. I'll edit the article.

Layla said...

"each series is a best of three in the first round and all three games to be played at the higher seeded teams arena." Why on earth would any team agree to this? If I'm reading this correctly only 6 teams out of 12 would have a chance to have playoffs? WTF? I'd rather go back to everyone makes it at least all teams got a change to have playoffs. So am I missing something here? So in the first round where there is the most teams, only half of them can have playoffs at their arena? Lets say that Lincoln is playing TC in the first round but TC is the higher ranked team ( Hopefully it'll be reversed but for the sake of my scenario play along with me) TC generally has much lower attendance than Lincoln during the regular season, so the league is willing to risk losing revenue because the lower ranked team might draw more attendance than the higher ranked team?
I want to know how the teams are going to explain to the fans "well we made the playoffs, but we have no games" So if you are a lower seed and you don't get past the first round, you wont see the team after the end of the regular season. I hope this is not the finalized version cuz it leaves a lot to be desired. Sorry if my rambling makes no sense cuz I'm utterly confused.

OmahaHockeyTalk said...

I actually like this system. Only problem I have with it is the best of three series played at one arena.

BellTolls said...

Layla, if I'm reading it correctly, I think it's only 4 teams out of 12 that aren't guaranteed a home playoff game. The 5 and 6 seeds in each conference will have to play three games on the road.

Then the teams get reseeded, so say 5 and 6 won in each division, then 1 will play 6 and 2 will play 5, and I think this resumes as normal best-of-five with each team getting home games.

lincolnfan said...

i like this system.. i'm not sure how i feel about the first round having all the games at one arena, but the system could be worse. this whole system may or may not be legit, but i think this definitely isn't a bad idea.

Layla said...

I just don't like the idea of the lower ranked team in the first round not having ANY playoff dates. As a fan, I'd like to actually WATCH my team in the playoffs and not have to travel and give the other team my money. Basically at the end of the season if your team isn't top 4, you might as well say your goodbyes because you have no idea of knowing if you will see them again. If you get past the first round, then yes it goes back to "normal".

MacAttack said...

I do like the unbalanced schedule. this means we will get to see more of the teams in our division/conference. so more games against Omaha, TC, SC, and SF. these are the teams I most like to root against.

I do agree with Layla on the wisdom of scheduling a playoff series and not allowing for both teams to host a game. a hypothetical possibility...we have to play Fargo in the first round and they get the home ice advantage? this is not conducive to a lot of Stars fans making the trip to watch our team. of course, the same could be applied to all the teams. I'm sure Fargo fans wouldn't like the idea of not seeing their team if Fargo had to come here for the first round. so let's hope the GM's speak up and they rethink this strategy.

starstruck said...

So if I understand this correctly, the only purpose of the divisions is to determine the make-up of a team’s season schedule (i.e. how many times the team plays other teams)? If the season schedule is set up the way described, I agree it would generally be a good thing. More games with teams in our division means less travel for teams, provides fans more opportunities to attend the closer away games, and allows more games with rival teams. The only disadvantage I see is there could be disparity in the toughness of the divisions (I see ours as one of the tougher). This could end up be a factor to standings when you play most of your games against those teams.

The conferences then determine the point standings and playoff status. The average fan may have to work a little harder at understanding how this all plays out – I find it confusing. So the teams that qualify for playoffs are put into 3 tiers of advantages or disadvantages. Within conferences, 1st and 2nd place teams are rewarded with a bye for the first round; 3rd & 4th place teams must play that first round but receive an advantage of a home series; and 5th & 6th place teams have to win a first round “best of a 3” away series (take that, you slackers) with the possibility of no home playoff games. I guess there would be one circumstance worse – not making playoffs.

Many times only one point would separate teams in the standings at season end. It would suck to miss by one point the 2nd place advantage of the first round bye (or miss the 4th place home advantage in the first round by one point). Guess this system should drive home the need to show up for every season game – because point standings are going to matter. Having always been a “points” watcher, this will take it to a new level. I can’t say whether I like this system – depends on where we land come April.

Yeti said...

Well, it looks like we're going to have to wait until next week at the earliest to hear from the USHL. It will be interesting to see if Mr. Berry's prediction will be the same as what the USHL releases. Berry works for the Storm, so this isn't just some random radio hack running his mouth. I have to wonder though if the USHL isn't too happy with him letting the cat out of the bag, so to speak.

I enjoy watching the Stars play their rivals in the west, but I also enjoy watching other teams from the east. I don't care for only getting to see those east teams once a season at the IceBox. I've grown to really enjoy the recent battles Green Bay and Lincoln have had at the IceBox. Sure, it's great to have so many games against teams that are close geographically to Lincoln. I enjoy going to road games like any fan (except when they are in Sioux City on the last day of the regular season). I just would like to see more variety of teams at the IceBox. Just my opinion.

I also like opening up the playoffs to more teams, but I'm also not a fan of the entire first round of playoffs being played at one rink.

starstruck said...

With the expansion we play 15 teams - a balanced schedule would have us play each opponent 4 times. So a balanced schedule is the only way we are going to see each team twice at the Ice Box. If they do go with an unbalanced schedule, it could still be set up so we would play some (but not all) east teams four times. Obviously that would make things more complicated, but I can see that eight games with west teams might be a little much.

Scott Brandt mentioned (when addressing a Booster Club meeting) that the league has a goal of 21 teams. That would make the number of match-ups with each team even less. Personally I liked the mix when it was 12-14 teams. (And it is taking long enough to iron out a schedule with 16 teams, imagine 21).

It would be nice to see the Stars regular season begin with a home game and finish with a home game (if not home, then anywhere except Sioux City).

lincolnfan said...

yeah, i guess the more teams you throw into the mix, the more complicated it gets and the more work it takes to figure out a play-off format and schedule format. either way, it seems the USHL understands the importance of letting teams, like Lincoln, keep their rivalry with the teams right now. so we'll still be playing Omaha and Tri-City several times a year. in doing that though, we only play teams such as Green Bay and Indiana twice. it's just part of the USHL expanding to more teams. i thought i read somewhere that the USHL would like to expand to 24 teams eventually, but maybe it is 21.

i guess we'll see what happens when the USHL releases the schedule and all the details.. would be nice if it came out early next week.

Layla said...

The new proposal from USA hockey states that the teams don't have to have a schedule available/released til Aug 1. So in reality, the USHL isn't being slow.I would like the schedule as much as anyone else, but if they released the schedule know they'd actually be ahead of the curve instead of behind it. Copy and paste link below:

StarsHcky said...

Has anyone heard anything else about exhibition games? I know we heard the rumor of a game in omaha on sept. 18th and I know we are supposed to have one with tri city. Will the exhibition schedule come out with the regular season schedule? Is it september yet? I'm sick of this heat and ready for some hockey!

Yeti said...


I haven't heard anything new on my end. Like you mentioned, there was a rumor posted here that the Stars and Lancers will play an exhibition game in Omaha on Saturday, September 18th. The Stars should play an exhibition game in Kearney against Tri-City also. I'd guess that both exhibition games will be played before the USHL Fall Classic, which will be held from September 22-25.

In the meantime, we wait until the USHL releases the 2010-11 game schedule, along with the game schedule for the Fall Classic.

Yeti said...

I sent an email to the USHL today, in regards to the USHL Fall Classic schedule. I was told that the schedule will be released next week, and each USHL team will play 3 games during the four day event. Pretty much what we all expected, but it was nice to hear it from the USHL officially.

lincolnfan said...

Yeti, will the 2010-11 game schedule also be released next week? or were they just talking about the fall classic schedule?

Yeti said...


That was just the Fall Classic schedule. The 2010-11 season schedule could be released next week also....I'm not sure.

Yeti said...


I asked the USHL about the 2010-11 schedule today via email, and I was told that it will be released later this week. As soon as it is, we'll update the blog with a new article highlighting the Stars games as well as the new divisions.

MacAttack said...

Yeti is the man! Single handed he goes out and get the answers for all Stars fans who are dying to know what is going on LOL

Yeti said...

I didn't do much. Just went to the USHL website and clicked the "contact us" link.

Anonymous said...

Yeti and BT, you guys think we will get to see the schedule today? The USHL is really dragging their feet with this one. I am interested to see how this divisions thing is going to work out.

Also what is up with Brent's blog? It's like he dissappeared. There isn't even a link to it on the Lincoln Stars website. It's been removed i guess. Sure glad you guys are still doing your thing, otherwise we (the fans) would be left in the dark. The Lincoln Journal Star sucks at covering the Stars. Appreciate all that you do!

Bill in Section C

Yeti said...


Thanks for the note. I appreciate the kind words. In regards to the schedule, I was told by the USHL in an email that the 2010-11 schedule would be released this week. I would expect to see it sometime today. There have been some delays because of the two new teams entering in to the USHL next season.

lincolnfan said...

has the JournalStar posted anything at all about the Stars this offseason? was there even a short article about the tryouts or anything? it's really too bad how they've just abandoned the Stars... this blog is great, but Brent was able to get some inside info from the coaches/players and do some video interviews.. it was really cool getting to see that on the journalstar blog. ah well, at least we have this place to discuss the Stars. :-)

as far as the schedule, according to the USHL Facebook page, they posted late Wednesday night that they were "making a few last minute adjustments to the 2010-2011 schedule. It will be out shortly!" so i'm guessing it will be out today...

Anonymous said...

Brent Wagner has been writing articles all summer long for the lincoln journal star, why has he ignored the Stars??? If he doesn't want to do it maybe the LJS should let another reporter cover the Stars. their coverage of hockey in general is pathetic. thank god for this blog :)

lincolnfan said...

i don't think we should blame Brent. for all we know, the JournalStar could have decided they don't think there's enough demand for coverage on the Stars and assigned him to write on other events. after all, it was all because of the JournalStar website changes that the blog got screwed up to begin with... that certainly wasn't his fault.

Anonymous said...

Any guess on captins for next season??

Yeti said...

Anon @ 4:49pm,

It's a little early for predictions, considering that a lot can happen to the roster between now and October. Having said that, I'd be very surprised if either Garrett Peterson or Josh Berge aren't wearing an "A" or a "C" next season.

Yeti said...

Schedule update:

I heard from a very good source today that the schedule holdup is due to two USHL teams who won't approve it. Supposedly these two teams are upset at the amount of weekday games they have at home next season. So I assume the USHL is now working to accommodate those two teams somehow.

MuskiesFan4Ever said...

Yeti @ 8:36 PM

Can't really blame those teams... for most teams weekday games just don't draw in the crowds like Fri and Sat night games do so the fewer ya have the better.

Yeti said...


I don't blame them at all. If I were running my own USHL team, I wouldn't want to play any games at home that wasn't on a Friday or Saturday night. Like you said, weekday games=no crowd=no money coming in.

Layla said...

yeah but unless we expand the season (not have more games, but end the season at a later date) some team is gonna have to play weekday games. Especially with 16 teams or how ever many we have. Now my question is, the league has to have the schedule out Aug 1st ( not that they've ever been on time) But what happens if the two teams or other teams who might have liked the original draft, but not the amended one don't ever like the schedule? I can't think of a way that is going to make everyone happy, because if they tweak it to make one team happy, it's gonna tick off another team.

MuskiesFan4Ever said...

Also, I guess if your team's venue already has a lot of Fri/Sat dates taken up with other events then you really shouldn't be blaming anyone but yourselves if you get stuck with more weekday games then you'd like.

I think SF has had this issue in past seasons... not sure about this one.