2nd Division Power Rankings: Round 6 Wrap-up

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With only two more rounds remaining in the regular season, the SAJL’s 2nd division playoff picture is beginning to take shape.

One week down, two more to go, until we can see more 2nd division football being played in Finland. What does this break in action mean? A hell of a lot of speculating and predicting what will happen as the regular season winds down, while the main contenders prepare for the playoffs and “bubble teams” try to jockey for position. It also means that there are three weeks for trash talk to be thrown about like a game of mölkky on a warm summer’s evening. Just minus the alcohol. Maybe.

A few things were decided at the end of round 6 that have helped to solidify the playoff picture: The Rovaniemi Nordmen, Porvoon Teurastajat (Porvoo Butcher’s development team) and the Helskini Wolverines Blue (their second team) have all made the playoffs. Rovaniemi, who is undefeated and already locked up group 1, has secured a bye into the semifinals and will play that home game on September 1st with kickoff happening at 5pm at Susivouti. Although Porvoo has already beaten the Wolverines earlier this season, it’s not yet possible to determine who will be getting a bye from group 2. Beyond these three teams, things get a little messy; particularly in group 1.

Without further ado, let’s dig into the rankings. Please note, these are NOT the official SAJL rankings and are only an opinion of what we’ve observed so far this season.

  1. Rovaniemi Nordmen (5-0): Ok, ok, ok, I’m biased, but what did you really expect? If the Nordmen had lost a game –or even been truly challenged this year– then I may have considered putting them lower, but the cold, hard fact is that they haven’t. Offense is clicking, defense is smothering and special teams has been, well, special. Two road games remaining in Jyväskylä and Hyvinkää are all that stand in the Nordmen’s way before their semi-final match-up. To paraphrase the Fröbelin Palikat song Leijonan Metsästys, “Jaguaareja me metsästetään.”
  2. Povoon Teurastajat (5-0): Porvoo has had an impressive season thus far and haven’t faced too many challenges along the way, except for their close 20-13 victory over the Wolverines in round 5. TAFT also put up a bit of a fight against Porvoo, scoring 24 points — the most the Teurastajat had given up this season–, but they still seem primed and ready for the playoffs. How many players from their Maple League roster will be eligible to play in the playoffs, is a question that we haven’t answered yet, but that should be cleared up in the next couple weeks.
  3. Helsinki Wolverines Blue (3-1): It will have been a month since the Wolverines will have played a game by the time they take the field against the Bulls in Sipoo on August 10th. That’s a lot of time to prep and expect Helsinki to have done exactly that. After a nail-biter against TAFT in round 4 and their only loss of the season to Porvoo in round 5, Helsinki will be looking to come out and make a statement. Will Jabari Harris make an appearance at QB for this game? He’s eligible for the playoff roster, and that should never be forgotten.
  4. Oulu Northern Lights (3-2): Coming off of their second, home shutout of the season, Oulu is back on the winning side of things and looks to be the solid #2 seed from group 1. They’ve got one more game against the Veljmiehet in Kuopio and then they’ll be waiting to see how Jyväskylä fairs against Rovaniemi the following day and Kuopio the following week. If Oulu was smart, they’d be rooting for Rovaniemi to beat Jyväskylä so as to prevent the Jaguars from potentially over-taking them in the rankings; considering they have two games left to Oulu’s one remaining game.
  5. Jyväskylä Jaguars (2-2): The Jaguars are a dark horse in group 1. Sometimes they look very solid, but their play hasn’t been consistent enough to truly provide a challenge to Rovaniemi or Oulu. They only lost by 1 point to Oulu earlier this season and struggled with Kuopio, despite having what appears to be a very talented roster that has seen time both in the Maple League and now in the U-19 European Championships. Can the Jaguars actually put these pieces together and deliver on their claim that they’ll snap Rovaniemi’s 14-game winning streak on August 11th in Jyväskylä? We’ll see.
  6. Vantaa TAFT (1-4): Ok, I’ve got a 1-4 team over two 2-3 teams, but hear me out for a second. TAFT and their mopoauto gang have been playing great football if you take away the brain-fart of a game against Sipoo. They’ve played Porvoo tough two times, almost beat Helsinki and beat the Mayhem on the road. If they didn’t have to play the top two teams in this group twice, they’d likely have already locked up a playoff spot. They just got dealt with a really tough schedule and that kinda sucks. They need many things to go right for them, and can’t make any mistakes in order to lock-up a playoff spot from group 2.
  7. Hyvinkää Falcons (2-3): Hyvinkää has had one of the best youth programs in Finland for a long time; consistently churning out national team and Maple League players. And that’s the problem. Their guys get almost “too good” and then move on. The only of the capital area teams that actually has to travel far for their road games, Hyvinkää deserves props for their performance this year, but they’ll need a lot of things to go wrong for Jyväskylä and Oulu if they want to make the playoffs.
  8. Rusko Mayhem (2-3): Yes, Rusko has more wins than TAFT. However, they have had the weakest schedule of any team in that group. Two wins over Sipoo does not scare your potential opponents come playoff time. The fact that those two wins come by a total of 8 points, doesn’t help either. 37 points scored and 92 allowed? C’mon, man, they can’t go any higher than this.
  9. Sipoo Bulls (1-4): The Sipoo Bulldogs and Lahti Panthers came together before the season to form the Bulls. They’ve been shut-out three times and have scored 17 points on the season. The Bulldogs were a playoff team the past two seasons. Lahti has never been a playoff team. This experiment has failed, but at least these guys got to play this summer.
  10. Kuopio Steelers Veljmiehet (0-5): The Veljmiehet aren’t as bad as their record reflects, but when you’re winless on the season and have only scored 14 points it is pretty hard to put you any higher than the bottom. That being said, Kuopio has two games left in this first year of having their development team. They’ve gotten progressively better with each game they’ve played, and I think that they’ll get at least one victory on the season. They host Oulu in two weeks and finish in Jyväskylä the week after. Both will be good games, for sure.

Think that this was total BS or that something is in the wrong order? Leave it in the comments below. Both Finnish and English work 😉

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