Colorado Springs, CO - The Western Conference Semipro Divisions added their representatives to the PIHA Finals yesterday and the conference will send two of its best. Although the South looks a bit like an upset the New Mexico Venom travel a tough road to even get into the playoffs and proved, with help from a little less hockey in one weekend, that they can play with anyone.
New Mexico is in the organization’s 3rd season of PIHA and has always been in the middle of the standings but with the schedule they need to play year in and year out, the team has always been better than their record has shown. “This team drives 7 hours, plays 8 games in about 24 hours, and then drives home, 3 times a year. That cannot be easy to do and I believe it affects them late in weekends. But they have always been a gritty, talented team. I expect them to do well in February,” commented Division Coordinator, Dave Needham. The Venom took care of both Thunder teams on their way to a Southern Division Championship, beating a surprising Black Forest team in 3 games and then taking down the 1st seeded Front Range Thunder in another thrilling 3 game series. Goaltending was key in the second series as Seth Billie played his best hockey to outduel the Thunder netminders.
The North turned into a battle of Catz but not until the favored Westminster Catz took on a tough expansion Omaha Predators squad, but ended the teams successful first season with a 2-game sweep. While the Westy team was taking care of the Predators the Greely Catz were in for a battle against a very good skating Lakewood Miners. The Miners came out flying on all cylinders and took game 1 in OT but watched the series slip away as the Catz took the final two games and moved on to face their counterparts in the North Division final. After a high scoring two games the Westminster Catz ended the Greely team’s season with a sweep and will move on to the PIHA Finals.
So after a great day of playoff hockey the final two teams are rolling towards the February 21-23 weekend and a chance at the KIHA Cup.