They trail the league-leading Pinnacle Growlers by six points, they’re just three points up on the third-place Tri Pen Osprey and they haven’t won in more than a week, but maybe we shouldn’t expect a whole lot of concern on the part of the Newfoundland and Labrador Major Midget Hockey League’s East Coast Blizzard.
After all, the second-place Blizzard have five games in hand on the Growlers and four in hand on the Osprey. And as for that “haven’t won in a while” business, it’s actually because last weekend marked their turn to be the bye team in the five-team league.
The Blizzard won’t be playing this coming weekend either, as all five NLMMHL teams — the Western Kings and Central Impact are the others — will make the annual trek to New Brunswick and the 39th Monctonian Challenge tournament, beginning Thursday.
It won’t be until the weekend of Nov. 23 that the Blizzard will begin the process of making up those games in hand in the provincial league.
Still, games in hand are only what you make of them when they are played, and even taking into account their surplus of games, the Growlers still own the league’s most prolific offence — they average a league-high 4,53 goals per game, compared to 4.14 for the Blizzard — and stingiest defence, with a 2.35 goals-against average as opposed to 2.68 for the East Coast side.
And there will be those who will point out that lofty positions in the standings and superior stats don’t always translate into ultimate success. Last season, for example, the Blizzard and Growlers finished far ahead off the rest of the league and with far better numbers when it came to goals for and against, but it was the third-place Kings, with a sub-.500 regular-season record, who went on to claim the 2018-19 NLMMHL championship.