The top three seeds from the regular season are part of the final four in the Ultimate Fantasy Hockey League playoffs. The Ice Vikings, Red Army and Titans advanced from their respective division playdowns, along with the 10th-seeded Gators, as the Klein Cup playoffs roll into the third round — the semifinals. The remaining franchises were reseeded for these matchups to mirror the NHL’s playoff format this season. Therefore, it’s possible the top two seeds — Ice Vikings and Red Army — could clash for the Klein Cup, unless the underdog Gators can pull off a third straight upset after ousting the seventh-seeded Royals and fifth-seeded Outlaws to represent the Howe Division. The Titans are in tough now, lacking manpower coming out of the second round as you’ll see in this preview. Second Round Results Gretzky Division Final 1) Red Army defeated 2) Grizzlies 192.2-114 Lemieux Division Final 1) Ice Vikings defeated 3) Stingrays 99.55-78.45 Orr Division Final 1) Titans defeated 2) Rock Republic 163.75-159.35 Howe Division Final 3) Gators defeated 1) Outlaws 140.3-75.9 Third Round Matchups Semifinals (Final Four Reseeded) L1) Ice Vikings vs. H3) Gators G1) Red Army vs. O1) Titans
Here is how the franchises stack up for the third round, with a roster comparison followed by a bit of analysis. NOTE: These four remaining playoff franchises are leasing players from the 15 non-playoff franchises that are listed in parenthesis. Third Round Semifinals L1) Ice Vikings vs. H3) Gators
L1) Ice Vikings Forwards (4) Mark Stone — Vegas vs. Montreal (Crypto Knights) Reilly Smith — Vegas vs. Montreal (Snipers) Brock Nelson — New York Islanders vs. Tampa Bay (Assassins) Leo Komarov — New York Islanders vs. Tampa Bay (Blizzard) Defenders (0) None Goaltenders (1) Semyon Varlamov — New York Islanders vs. Tampa Bay H3) Gators Forwards (5) Mathieu Joseph — Tampa Bay vs. New York Islanders Yanni Gourde — Tampa Bay vs. New York Islanders (Monarchs) Jean-Gabriel Pageau — New York Islanders vs. Tampa Bay (Norse Stars) William Karlsson — Vegas vs. Montreal Corey Perry — Montreal vs. Vegas Defenders (1) Alec Martinez — Vegas vs. Montreal Goaltenders (0) None
ANALYSIS: This has the makings of a great semifinal. The Gators have an extra skater — two extra skaters counting Joseph, who has been a healthy scratch — but the Ice Vikings have the only goaltender left. It could come down to that goaltender, to how Varlamov and the Islanders fare against the Lightning. The skaters appear fairly even, so Varlamov becomes the wild card for better or worse. If the Islanders fare well, the Ice Vikings are likely gunning for a double championship — both regular season and playoffs! But the Gators won’t go down without a fight here.
G1) Red Army vs. O1) Titans
G1) Red Army Forwards (7) Nick Suzuki — Montreal vs. Vegas Tyler Toffoli — Montreal vs. Vegas Cole Caufield — Montreal vs. Vegas (Snipers) Joel Armia — Montreal vs. Vegas (Snipers) Ryan Poehling — Montreal vs. Vegas (Duckman’s Domination) Nikita Kucherov — Tampa Bay vs. New York Islanders (Monarchs) Alex Barre-Boulet — Tampa Bay vs. New York Islanders (Tornadoes) Defenders (2) Jeff Petry — Montreal vs. Vegas (Snipers) Alexander Romanov — Montreal vs. Vegas (Snipers) Goaltenders (2) Carey Price — Montreal vs. Vegas (Godfathers) Jake Allen — Montreal vs. Vegas (Godfathers) O1) Titans Forwards (0) None Defenders (0) None Goaltenders (1) Andrei Vasilevskiy — Tampa Bay vs. New York Islanders
ANALYSIS: This matchup is as lopsided as it appears — 11 to 1 in favour of Red Army, which caught a fortunate break when the Titans overtook Rock Republic on the final day of the second round. Rock Republic would have advanced 10 players and thus been a much tougher challenge in the semifinals. Instead, it’s all up to Vasilevskiy for the Titans but even four straight shutouts may not be enough to take down Red Army’s six or seven active skaters in addition to Price between the pipes. Red Army’s remaining roster total is a bit inflated — Poehling and Barre-Boulet haven’t been playing, Petry may be hurt or Romanov may be out if Petry is playing, and Allen is obviously the backup behind Price — but Red Army has at least a handful of quality contributors thanks to this Cinderella run by Montreal. If the clock strikes midnight on the Canadiens in this round, Red Army could be in the same shoes as the Titans for the Klein Cup Final, but Red Army sure looks like a shoo-in from the semis. For those curious, here is a look at who Rock Republic would have had remaining to face Red Army, had they not been defeated by a mere 4.4 points: Forwards (4) Blake Coleman — Tampa Bay vs. New York Islanders Alex Killorn — Tampa Bay vs. New York Islanders (Monarchs) Jesperi Kotkaniemi — Montreal vs. Vegas Nic Roy — Vegas vs. Montreal (Kamikaze) Defenders (5) Victor Hedman — Tampa Bay vs. New York Islanders (Monarchs) David Savard — Tampa Bay vs. New York Islanders (Godfathers) Cal Foote — Tampa Bay vs. New York Islanders (Norse Stars) Joel Edmundson — Montreal vs. Vegas Nic Hague — Vegas vs. Montreal Goaltenders (1) Marc-Andre Fleury — Vegas vs. Montreal
Non-Playoff Franchises NOTE: These 15 non-playoff UFHL franchises are loaning players to the four remaining playoff franchises who are listed in parenthesis. The non-playoff franchises are listed from most players participating in the Klein Cup playoffs to the least.
Snipers Forwards (4) Cole Caufield — Montreal vs. Vegas (Red Army) Joel Armia — Montreal vs. Vegas (Red Army) Reilly Smith — Vegas vs. Montreal (Ice Vikings) Morgan Geekie — Eliminated (Ice Vikings) Defenders (3) Jeff Petry — Montreal vs. Vegas (Red Army) Alexander Romanov — Montreal vs. Vegas (Red Army) Robert Bortuzzo — Eliminated (Red Army) Goaltenders (0) None ANALYSIS: Snipers still have seven players left, with five on Red Army and two on Ice Vikings, so they are hoping for that 1-versus-2 showdown for the Klein Cup. If Red Army prevails as the playoff champ, Snipers would also receive a nice little payout for providing a handful of Habs and being on that bandwagon! The way it works with the payouts and this leasing system, 50 per cent of the prize money goes to the franchise (owner/GM/staff), while the other 50 per cent is evenly distributed to every player on their roster. There are payouts for winning each of the four rounds — escalating from $77.28 to $154.56 to $309.12 to $1,700.13 USD. With a 23-man roster, each player would earn $1.68 for the first round, $3.36 for the second round, $6.72 for the third round and $36.96 for the fourth round. Therefore, players from the Klein Cup champion would earn a total of $48.72 USD worth of SCO for their respective franchises.
Monarchs Forwards (4) Nikita Kucherov — Tampa Bay vs. New York Islanders (Red Army) Pierre-Luc Dubois — Eliminated (Red Army) Yanni Gourde — Tampa Bay vs. New York Islanders (Gators) Carter Verhaeghe — Eliminated (Titans) Defenders (0) None Goaltenders (0) None ANALYSIS: Monarchs are one of three non-playoff franchises with four players remaining, including two on Red Army. Kucherov is still going strong in both the NHL and the UFHL as the second overall pick in this year’s UFHL Playoff Draft. With representatives on three of the final four franchises, there is a good chance that a Monarch — or two — will be getting their names engraved on the Klein Cup again after the Monarchs captured last year’s inaugural playoff championship before missing the playoffs this year.
Godfathers Forwards (2) Warren Foegele — Eliminated (Ice Vikings) Daniel Sprong — Eliminated (Ice Vikings) Defenders (0) None Goaltenders (2) Carey Price — Montreal vs. Vegas (Red Army) Jake Allen — Montreal vs. Vegas (Red Army) ANALYSIS: Godfathers are also banking on Red Army versus Ice Vikings for the Klein Cup, with two reps on each of the top two seeds. If Price keeps kicking, Godfathers will be in good shape to cash in.
Warriors Forwards (3) Adam Brooks — Eliminated (Ice Vikings) Jordan Staal — Eliminated (Gators) Owen Tippett — Eliminated (Titans) Defenders (1) Devon Toews — Eliminated (Titans) Goaltenders (0) None ANALYSIS: Warriors don’t have anybody left in the NHL playoffs but still have four eliminated players along for the ride on UFHL playoff rosters, with one assured of advancing to the Klein Cup Final for either the Ice Vikings or the Gators. That is the good news for the Warriors.
Crypto Knights Forwards (2) Mark Stone — Vegas vs. Montreal (Ice Vikings) Ondrej Kase — Eliminated (Ice Vikings) Defenders (0) None Goaltenders (1) Devan Dubnyk — Eliminated (Titans) ANALYSIS: Crypto Knights are one of four non-playoff franchises with three players remaining — led by Stone, the first overall pick in this year’s UFHL Playoff Draft. Crypto Knights are still coming to terms with cheering for division rival Ice Vikings, especially considering they just eliminated Crypto Knights’ spouse — owner of the Stingrays — in the second round.
Assassins Forwards (3) Brock Nelson — New York Islanders vs. Tampa Bay (Ice Vikings) Cedric Paquette — Eliminated (Ice Vikings) Pierre Engvall — Eliminated (Ice Vikings) Defenders (0) None Goaltenders (0) None ANALYSIS: Assassins are all-in on the Ice Vikings, with Nelson leading their charge towards the Klein Cup in support of the aforementioned Stone.
Blizzard Forwards (1) Leo Komarov — New York Islanders vs. Tampa Bay (Ice Vikings) Defenders (2) Brandon Carlo — Eliminated (Ice Vikings) Kevan Miller — Eliminated (Ice Vikings) Goaltenders (0) None ANALYSIS: Blizzard are in the same boat, with Komarov now their last man standing in the NHL playoffs among their trio rostered by the Ice Vikings in the UFHL playoffs.
Duckman’s Domination Forwards (3) Ryan Poehling — Montreal vs. Vegas (Red Army) Nate Thompson — Eliminated (Red Army) Pierre-Edouard Bellemare — Eliminated (Titans) Defenders (0) None Goaltenders (0) None ANALYSIS: Duckman’s are on Team Red Army, hoping to get two of their players’ names etched onto the Klein Cup and perhaps get an invitation to that epic celebration in Russia or wherever the silent partner is residing.
Tornadoes Forwards (1) Alex Barre-Boulet — Tampa Bay vs. New York Islanders (Red Army) Defenders (1) Dylan DeMelo — Eliminated (Red Army) Goaltenders (0) None ANALYSIS: Tornadoes are down to two players — both representing Red Army despite DeMelo being eliminated and Barre-Boulet yet to make his NHL playoff debut because of Tampa Bay’s depth. But for Tornadoes, they would pay just the same if Red Army went on to win!
Norse Stars Forwards (1) Jean-Gabriel Pageau — New York Islanders vs. Tampa Bay (Gators) Defenders (0) None Goaltenders (0) None ANALYSIS: Norse Stars are one of five non-playoff franchises with one player remaining. Pageau has made a substantial impact for the Gators to this point and could be a key factor in them making the Klein Cup Final.
Mystics Forwards (0) None Defenders (1) Erik Johnson — Eliminated (Ice Vikings) Goaltenders (0) None ANALYSIS: Mystics have just Johnson left on the Ice Vikings and he was unable to make any impact, missing the entire playoffs to injury before Colorado was eliminated.
Dynasty Forwards (0) None Defenders (1) Jake Gardiner — Eliminated (Ice Vikings) Goaltenders (0) None ANALYSIS: Dynasty are also sailing with the Ice Vikings despite hardly helping, with Gardiner only suiting up for a single playoff appearance prior to Carolina’s exit.
Generals Forwards (0) None Defenders (1) Mattias Ekholm — Eliminated (Gators) Goaltenders (0) None ANALYSIS: Generals will be rooting for the Gators against the Ice Vikings, even though Ekholm was eliminated with Nashville in the first round of the NHL playoffs.
Kamikaze Forwards (1) Valeri Nichushkin — Eliminated (Titans) Defenders (0) None Goaltenders (0) None ANALYSIS: Kamikaze lost Nichushkin in the NHL playoffs and is now likely to lose the Titans in the UFHL playoffs, which would leave Kamikaze without a presence in the Klein Cup Final.
Eliminators Forwards (0) None Defenders (0) None Goaltenders (0) None ANALYSIS: Eliminators were the first non-playoff franchise to be eliminated — no pun intended. Eliminators don’t have any players left in the UFHL semis, so they can officially turn their attention to next season.
Bentley Jacks ANALYSIS: The UFHL’s expansion franchise isn’t just spectating and evaluating potential targets in this year’s playoffs ahead of their inaugural season. Brennen Kopp is presumably the busiest GM behind the scenes, already getting close to double digits in pending trades with expansion implications. Those won’t be announced until next month’s UFHL Expansion Draft — Brennen will reveal them during that live event — but it’s safe to say the Bentley Jacks are open for business in the present!
2021 UFHL Entry Auction Draft Order NOTE: The Entry Auction is the UFHL’s version of the annual NHL Entry Draft but works a little differently with five franchises getting to bid on each draft spot. So 1-5 will be bidding on the first overall pick, with the remaining four and No. 6 bidding on the second overall pick. The franchises from 25-28 lost in the second round of the Klein Cup playoffs and are placed in reverse order of their regular-season standings. The 29-32 auction spots will be determined by the remaining playoff results. First Round 1) Duckman’s Domination 2) Eliminators 3) Tornadoes (Royals) 4) Bentley Jacks (Generals) 5) Blizzard (Snipers) 6) Assassins (Tornadoes) 7) Norse Stars (Generals) 8) Warriors (Blizzard) 9) Monarchs 10) Generals (Tornadoes) 11) Mystics 12) Godfathers (Norse Stars) 13) Snipers (Generals) 14) Dynasty (Bentley Jacks) 15) Crypto Knights 16) Kamikaze (Strong Island) 17) Stallions (Snipers) 18) Strong Island (Mystics) 19) Battlehawks (Outlaws) 20) Brutes 21) Blades of Steel (Mystics) 22) West Coast Express (Outlaws) 23) Royals (Crypto Knights) 24) Yetis 25) Grizzlies (Duckman’s Domination) 26) Stingrays (Duckman’s Domination) 27) Rock Republic (Eliminators) 28) Outlaws (Duckman’s Domination) 29) Titans 30) Ice Vikings (Gators) 31) TBD 32) TBD To Be Determined Gators (Blizzard) Red Army (Duckman’s Domination) Second Round 33) Duckman’s Domination 34) Tornadoes 35) Bentley Jacks 36) Blizzard (Tornadoes) 37) Assassins (Duckman’s Domination) 38) Eliminators 39) Norse Stars 40) Warriors (Blizzard) 41) Monarchs 42) Generals (Outlaws) 43) Mystics (Tornadoes) 44) Godfathers (Snipers) 45) Snipers (Tornadoes) 46) Dynasty (Snipers) 47) Crypto Knights 48) Kamikaze (Tornadoes) 49) Stallions (Tornadoes) 50) Strong Island 51) Battlehawks (Tornadoes) 52) Brutes 53) Blades of Steel 54) West Coast Express (Tornadoes) 55) Royals (Duckman’s Domination) 56) Yetis (Grizzlies) 57) Grizzlies (Strong Island) 58) Stingrays (Battlehawks) 59) Rock Republic (Brutes) 60) Outlaws (Duckman’s Domination) 61) Titans 62) Ice Vikings (Yetis) 63) TBD 64) TBD To Be Determined Gators (Titans) Red Army (Duckman’s Domination) NOTE: Outlaws receive Duckman’s lowest (worst) 2nd Round Pick.