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Power closes in on playoff berth

Jerry DiPaola
| Sunday, June 15, 2014, 9:44 p.m.

When Power coach Ron James was informed Sunday afternoon that his team need only defeat Iowa on Friday night to reach the playoffs, his reaction was predictable.

Actually, he didn't have one.

“No reaction until we lock up a playoff berth,” he said. “This week is business as usual, and we are already in the office preparing for Iowa.”

Yet, he can't hide from the mathematical truth: The Power's 57-56 victory Saturday in Phildelphia lifted their record to 10-3 (a franchise-record victory total). With five games left in the regular season, they hold a four-game lead over the Soul and Iowa (both 6-7) for one of the two wild-card playoff spots from the American Conference.

A victory Friday at Consol Energy Center means the Power, who hold the tiebreaker over Philadelphia because of their two victories in the season series, could not lose more than seven games.

Co-owner Matt Shaner was a bit more willing than his coach to discuss the postseason — but with the disclaimer that merely getting there is not enough.

“Lynn (co-owner Swann) and I have always said, we are not satisfied with anything less than a championship,” Shaner said. “We are very excited that we may clinch a playoff spot soon and bring a championship to the great city of Pittsburgh.”

The Power remain in second place in the American Conference East, holding only a slim hope of passing the Cleveland Gladiators (11-1) for first. Because they lost the season series to Cleveland, 2-1, the Power would lose the tiebreaker. To slip into second, Cleveland would have to lose three of its final six while the Power go 5-0.

The Power's motivation will be based on trying to finish with the best record among the two wild-cards. That would allow the Power to avoid Cleveland in the first round of the playoffs and play an easier opponent from the American South — either Orlando (8-5) or Tampa Bay (7-6).

Notes: Shaner said the team will honor the memory of former Steelers coach Chuck Noll by wearing a jersey or helmet decal, probably with the initials CN, for the remainder of the season. ... Rookie wide receiver Tyrone Goard hurt his knee against the Soul, but the extent of the injury is unknown.

Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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