Second vs. seventh.
Hawks vs. Capitals.
It doesn't matter how you put it, the playoffs bring out the best in teams. Standings are put aside and two teams go head-to-head for a chance to advance to the next round.
The Pembina Valley Hawks' first opponent in this year's playoffs will be the Central Plains Capitals. Last season the Hawks season came to an end by the hands of the Capitals in the Manitoba Female "AAA" Midget Hockey League's (MFMHL) semi-final series.
"The girls are ready to go. We had a good weekend in Thompson. Everything was working well there, so we are going to carry that through to the first round," explained Hawks head coach Dana Bell. "It's always a battle against Central Plains, but the girls know what they have to do. They have to bring high intensity for a sixty full minutes every game. We need to be aggressive and we need to stay disciplined at the same time. That's the key for us."
This season the Hawks played Central Plains on four separate occasions during the regular season and came out on top three of the four times. Pembina Valley outscored the Capitals 16-5 in those games.
"I don't think you can take anybody lightly in this league. Everything is so close right now," said Bell. "Every team is getting better. Our focus is to go out and play our game and stay focused on our game."
After finishing second in the MFMHL, the Hawks will have home ice advantage for this series, which Bell stated is a huge thing for his squad.
"We always get a good crowd out and we like our rink. We like our rink and always work hard there. It's definitely important to us," Bell said.
The Hawks may be the host team for the Esso Cup, but they are still looking to win their way to the national tournament, and have their eyes set on the Capitals as the first step toward acheiving that goal.
This best-of-five quarterfinal series gets underway at 7:30 p.m. tonight in Morden.