Despite all odds, despite all exceptions, the Bold City Battalion are in a position to battle for the division crown at the quarter-mark of the USPHL season. What was a thought in the minds of a few less than year ago has now become a reality. In the last two years, two expansion franchises have entered the Florida Division and both have finished in last place. Baring a monumental collapse, it's hard to see Bold City finishing anywhere near last place as through the first 13-games of their existence they have put themselves in position to compete for the Florida Division Title.
As October has come and gone along with the quarter-mark of the season, the Battalion have put themselves in a remarkable position. Albeit there's still a long way to go, however it would seem improbable that Bold City would miss the playoffs. To put that into perspective, an expansion team has not made the Florida Division playoffs since the Charleston Colonials made it in the 2019-2020 season with a .500 record. Not to mention that two expansion teams have come into the Florida Division in each of the last two years and finished in last place both times. For an expansion team to compete for a playoff spot, much less the division is incredible.
As of November 1st, the Battalion sit in second place with 18 points and a record of 8-3-2. They lead Tampa Bay by two points in the standings and trail the Florida Eels by seven points. Although seven points may seem like a lot to gain, Bold City has two games at hand on the Eels. The Battalion are tied (with Tampa) for the least amount of games played in the division. If the Battalion were to win those two game, they would be a measly three points off the division lead. Then we you take into account the Eels laissez-faire schedule through the first two months, Bold City is right in the mix. Florida is in for its biggest divisional test of the season as they play a three game series on the road against a very good Atlanta team. And oh by the way, the Battalion are ranked number six in the latest Dan K Show power rankings.
The Keys to Staying There
With three-quarters of the season remaining, there are three things that Battalion must do in order to stay in position to compete for the Florida Division title. They need to beat the teams below their weight class, have a winning record against Tampa Bay and Atlanta, and have a winning record at the remaining showcases.
If you are going to take the division title away from the Eels you have beat the teams you are supposed to beat. For the Battalion, this means having an outstanding record against that are below your weight class. Bold City plays the Florida Jr. Blades and the Palm Beach Typhoon nine more times this season and need to be nearly perfect against them the rest of the way. The Eels are already 5-0 against both teams and there's little indication that'll change moving forward. However, if the Battalion are perfect in this regard, the pressure is on the Eels to do the same.
Historically Tampa is the second best team in the Florida Division. Part of the reason why the Eels have won the last 4 division titles is because they almost always have a winning record against TBJ. Since 2019 Florida has had only one season in which they had a losing record against Tampa. Common sense will tell you that if the Battalion are compete for first place they are going to have to win the season series against Tampa Bay. Another team the Battalion will have to win a season series with is Atlanta. They will likely finish fourth in the standings due to their poor start, however roster wise they give any team in the Florida Division a run for their money. Although the Eels swept the Madhatters in the season opening series, Atlanta is 6-0-1 in their last seven and much improved. With Florida in Atlanta this weekend, it is definitely an out-of-town matchup to keep your eyes on.
Lastly, Bold City will have to do well in their remaining two showcases to keep pace with Florida. It's not going to be easy. The Battalion's remaining showcase games feature 4 opponents in the Dan K show power rankings, three of which are in the top ten. Florida's remaining showcase schedule features only two with one being in the top ten. It is very likely that the Eels will post winning records at the remaining showcase. The Battalion will have to do the same.
It Starts Now
The Bold City Battalion have a great opportunity to gain some ground on the Florida Eels this weekend. The Eels are facing their toughest divisional test yet on the road in Atlanta. This means it is imperative for the Battalion to pick up four points this weekend if they are going to keep pace with the Eels. Any time you can gain points in the standings is good. However, when you take into account that Bold City's toughest stretch of hockey is in front of them, it makes it even more important. If Atlanta can win the series and the Battalion can pick up two wins, they would trail Florida by only five points with three games at hand. They are in position, now they need to execute.