Flames will be dancing for joy

Cherry Cup glory is only a few wins away for the Cayman Hot Sauce Flames.

The 8-2-1 Flames have all but wrapped up the regular season crown in the 2013 fall national inline hockey league. Cayman Hot Sauce have their final tune-up before the playoffs on Tuesday, Nov. 19, at 9:30 p.m. at Kings Sports Center against the 6-2-3 Deloitte Sharks. Deloitte rank second with 14 points but a victory will not knock off the frontrunners, who have 18 points.

Both teams head into their regular season finales after impressive victories. Cayman Hot Sauce clobbered the 5-6 Burger King Gamebirds, 11-3, while Deloitte beat the 0-2-9 Mepco High Rollers, 13-10. The Gamebirds will face the High Rollers in a postseason warm-up this Tuesday at 8:30 p.m.

While playoff seeding is already determined, there is plenty to play for in terms of individual accolades. Evan Ellbogen has the scoring title all but secured for the Flames with 41 goals. The next closest players are Dan O’Flaherty of Gamebirds with 24 scores and the Sharks’ Wayne Griffith with 22 goals.

Ellbogen does have a tight race for the assists honor though, as his tally of 17 ranks just ahead of four other players. Dan Etherington and Dennis Paschier both have 15 assists for the Sharks while Jason Windsor of the Flames and Griffith sport 13 assists each. Ellbogen’s numbers and impact on the league as a rookie would suggest he is the easy choice for Most Valuable Player, though Griffith should get some votes for his exploits as a defenseman.

In between the pipes, the race for top goalie looks to be decided. Scott Hughes of the Sharks has played like Cayman’s No. 1, statistics-wise, with a league-best 242 saves against 327 shots. Andrew Finlason of the High Rollers has been Mepco’s lone bright spot with 211 saves against 291 shots. Jeremy Olynik of the Flames has quietly saved 210 of the 265 shots he has faced while Nigel Windsor and Randy Cannon of the Gamebirds have combined for 241 saves versus 321 shots faced.

At this point, the playoffs will feature Cayman Hot Sauce as the top seed facing bottom club Mepco while Deloitte, the two-time reigning champions, face third seed Burger King. The best-of-three series begin on Sunday, Nov. 24, at 9 a.m. Game two of the opening round is scheduled for next Tuesday, Nov. 26, from 8:30 p.m. Game three, if necessary, would be Dec. 1 at 9 a.m.