Belgian playoff picture comes into view

The Belgian playoffs hit the turf this weekend with a series of semi-final double-header fixtures as the race to be national champion hits full force.

Gantoise topped the regular season table on the women’s side by 10 points but they did drop a couple of points on the final day with a 3-3 draw against mid-table Antwerp.

They come up against Racing Club de Bruxelles who confirmed their place in the final four with a 2-1 success over Orée, enough to see them jump ahead of Waterloo Ducks and Herakles.

Dragons also left it late to earn a playoff place, winning a showdown with Herakles 2-0 on the last day that lifted them to third place. That earned them a date with Braxgata.

The first legs will take place on Saturday with the second legs on Sunday, both at 4.30pm (CET) each time.

On the men’s side, the final four picture was more clear-cut with Léopold long confirmed as table-toppers with Dragons, Gantoise and Waterloo Ducks already assured of playoff places prior to the final round.

Léo will meet the WatDucks for a second and third time in eight days after they drew 3-3 last Sunday, Victor Charlet scoring an equaliser in the closing minutes to cancel out a couple of goals from Tom Boon.

Gantoise warmed up for their dates with Dragons with an 8-2 win over Old Club. The men’s semi-finals will be on Saturday and Sunday at 1.30pm (CET).

Elsewhere, Nicolas Poncelet will return to Royal Léopold next season following two seasons with AH&BC Amsterdam.

The Belgian international returns to the club of his youth with Léo co-president Antoine Humblet saying of his return: “Nicolas grew up at the club from the age of 5 to 18 where he evolved within our youth school and then joined our DH team. We saw him grow, mature, develop until he was integrated into the senior group of the Red Lions. His progress is an example for our young talents.”

He joins the club who topped the Ion Hockey League’s regular season table; Poncelet has been Belgian champions twice before with Dragons in 2018 and Léo in 2019.