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Ohio University defenseman Thomas Pokorney (No. 4) dekes the puck against Stony Brook forward Matthew McDermitt (No. 74). Ohio went on to win against Stony Brook 3-1. (FILE)

Hockey: A late-season outlook of the Central States Collegiate Hockey League

On March 6, the Central States Collegiate Hockey League will begin its league tournament in Champaign, Illinois.

There are only three weeks left until the CSCHL Tournament, and many of the teams only have one league series left. While Lindenwood is locked in at first place, every other spot is up for grabs.

The Post looked at each CSCHL team and where it thinks each will end up. 

Lindenwood University

The Lions (19-7-0, 12-2 CSCHL) sit comfortably on top of the CSCHL rankings and have clinched the No. 1 seed for the league tournament. The Lions have only two losses in league play this season, and the reigning CSCHL champions are the favorite to win again this season. 

Lindenwood has earned 35 of the possible 42 points when facing league opponents. Only Ohio has been able to prevent the Lions from steamrolling the league.

Whoever the Lions face in the tournament will have a tough task. Lindenwood hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down for the upcoming month.

Tournament Spot: Clinched No. 1 seed

Ohio University

Ohio (19-8-3, 9-5 CSCHL) only needs one league win to clinch the No. 2 seed for the tournament. Its final CSCHL series will be against Iowa State, and if the Bobcats clinch, this will be the fourth consecutive year they have claimed the No. 2 seed.

The Bobcats have shown potential to compete with teams that are as highly ranked as them. Ohio, however, has been wildly inconsistent at points in the season. After winter break, the Bobcats struggled to win the first game of a series whether their opponents were ranked or not.

The Bobcats seem to be rebounding, though. A sweep of Stony Brook, which was ranked No. 7 in the American Collegiate Hockey Association, might be the confidence booster Ohio needs heading to Iowa State.

If Ohio snags a win from the Cyclones, it will be in a good position against the No. 3 seed.  The Bobcats have positive records against Illinois and Iowa State, who will likely round out the league’s playoff positions.

Predicted Tournament Spot: No. 2 seed

Iowa State University

Iowa State (17-13-2, 6-6 CSCHL) has the most to gain in the three weeks leading up to the CSCHL Playoffs. It has the most possible points remaining of any team in the league. 

The Cyclones’ final two series against Ohio and Lindenwood could send them rocketing toward the top. If they sweep their final two series, they will bump Ohio down to third and snatch the second seed. 

Having two CSCHL series to finish the season means Iowa State also has the most to lose. Facing the toughest teams in the CSCHL is a large enough order, but the Cyclones haven’t beaten the Lions since 2017. 

If the Cyclones and Ohio stay in second and third place, they will still face each other again in the first round of the CSCHL tournament. The Bobcats should have a much better chance of moving further in the tournament against the Cyclones than fighting Robert Morris over the chance to play Lindenwood for the championship.

If Illinois sweeps Robert Morris and Iowa State loses out, the Cyclones will find themselves stuck in fourth place.

Predicted Tournament Spot: No. 3 seed

University of Illinois

The Fighting Illini (15-10-3, 4-8-2) have a narrow window to slide into the third seed, but they aren’t in control of that window. Their only chance to move up a seed is if Iowa State wins once in their last four league games. Illinois also needs to win once in its final league series to brush past the Cyclones.

Their only remaining CSCHL opponent is Robert Morris, who the Fighting Illini swept in their last meeting in November. 

Illinois is playing a balancing act, and if Iowa State splits their final games, the Fighting Illini will be trapped near the bottom.

Predicted Tournament Spot: No. 4 seed

Robert Morris-Illinois

Robert Morris (13-14-4, 3-8-3 CSCHL) has struggled to find any success against league opponents this season. The Eagles have only won three games against CSCHL opponents this season, and they haven’t won a league game while on the road. 

It just so happens that the Eagles’ final league series will be on the road against Illinois.

The Eagles’ can still move up the rankings if they manage to sweep the Fighting Illini and if Iowa State loses out. If that happens, the Eagles may finish with the third seed and face Ohio in the CSCHL Tournament.

Predicted Tournament Spot: No. 5 seed



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