NAHL Weekend Preview
January 17, 2014
Although some of the division leaders are starting to separate themselves from the pack, the race for the fourth and final playoff spot in each of the four divisions is really starting to heat up. This weekend features another round of important divisional match-ups as 23 of the 24 NAHL teams are in action.
Aberdeen Wings @ Austin Bruins – It has been a very even series thus far between the two clubs, with each winning a pair of games through the first four games of the series. Two weeks ago, the clubs split a series in Aberdeen. At 13-2-2, the Wings possess the best road record in the NAHL. The Bruins have won six of their last seven games, with the lone loss being to Aberdeen back on January 4th.
Brookings Blizzard @ Bismarck Bobcats (Fri) – After a 2-0 win in Bismarck on Friday night, the Blizzard will look to continue their winning ways on Saturday. Evan Hesse had the game-winning goal and Connor Girard posted the shutout on Thursday for the Blizzard. It was just the second win in nine tries against the Bobcats this season. Thursday’s loss for the Bobcats was their first in regulation since December 31st.
Brookings Blizzard @ Minot Minotauros (Sat) – A lot is on the line when Brookings travels to Minot on Saturday. Namely, control of the fourth and final playoff spot in the Central. Minot once had control of the position, but they have lost seven in a row, while Brookings has 4-3-1 in their last eight games. The Minotauros are 3-1 against the Blizzard so far this season, but the two clubs haven’t played since early November.
Bismarck Bobcats @ Minot Minotauros (Sun) – In what has been a fairly even series this year, Bismarck travels to Minot in the lone NAHL game on Sunday. The last three games between the two clubs have been decided in overtime or a shootout.
Minnesota Wilderness vs. Coulee Region Chill (home and home) – Thanks to five straight wins, the Chill find themselves in 2nd place in the Midwest, two points ahead of the Wilderness. The two clubs met last weekend, with the Chill taking a pair of one-goal games. After a Friday night game in Coulee Region, Saturday’s game will be played outdoors in Elk River, Minnesota as a part of Hockey Day in Minnesota.
Wenatchee Wild @ Fairbanks Ice Dogs – Parker Tuomie scored twice to help the Wild to a 4-2 win on Thursday in the first of a three game set in Fairbanks. Wenatchee is just two points out of the final playoff spot in the Midwest, while the Ice Dogs maintain an 8-point lead atop of the division. With the win on Thursday, the Wild are 4-1 against the Ice Dogs this season.
Minnesota Magicians @ Kenai River Brown Bears – With six losses in their last seven games, the Magicians are drifting out of the playoff race and looking to turn things around this weekend in Kenai River. The Brown Bears are in the fourth and final playoff spot in the Midwest, two points ahead of Wenatchee. Kenai River has won five of their last eight. The two clubs last faced one another in late September when they split a series.
Johnstown Tomahawks @ Port Huron Fighting Falcons – Port Huron has won three of their last four and have a somewhat comfy seven point lead in the North Division over the Tomahawks, who are in 2nd place. The team have met eight times already this season, with each side winning four of those games. The Tomahawks enter the weekend on somewhat of the slide, having lost four of their last five games.
Soo Eagles @ Janesville Jets – The resurgent Eagles, who are 8-2-3 in their last 13 games, are just a point behind Springfield for the fourth and final playoff spot in the North Division. The Jets fought their way back into the playoff hunt with a torrid December, but have lost three straight games heading into this weekend. The two clubs have only met twice so far this season when they split a series in Janesville back on December 6-7.
Idle: Michigan Warriors
Odessa Jackalopes @ Corpus Christi IceRays – The Jackalopes have played just once since December 28th and are winless in their last five games. However, half of Odessa’s wins this season are against the IceRays. Both teams have some major ground to cover if they want to be in the playoff picture. The IceRays have lost their last four games and have not played at home since December 27th. The IceRays offense has struggled as of late with just eight goals in their last five games.
Amarillo Bulls @ Wichita Falls Wildcats – Big crowds are expected this weekend as the Wildcats host the Bulls. Amarillo comes into the weekend riding a seven-game winning streak and with the largest division lead in the NAHL at 10 points. The teams have played four times so far this season, with each winning a pair. The Wildcats swept the Bulls back in late December during the last time the two clubs met. The Wildcats haven’t had a home game since December 11th.
Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees @ Lone Star Brahmas – Despite the Killer Bees owning a 7-0-3 record against the Brahmas this season, this series has been one of the more entertaining and competitive in the league this year. All games have been decided by two goals or less and six of the 10 have been decided in overtime or a shootout. The Brahmas are 5-3-1 in their last nine and are threatening to pass Corpus Christi for 5th place. With 45 points, the Killer Bees are one point back of 2nd place Topeka.
Out of Division
Topeka RoadRunners @ Springfield Jr. Blues – The Jr. Blues come in playing well, having won four of their last five games. Goaltender Stefanos Lekkas has emerged as one of the best young goalies in the NAHL. Speaking of goalies, Topeka’s PJ Bridges is the #1 goalie statistically in the league as he ranks 1st in both goals against average (1.27) and save percentage 95.1%. The Jr. Blues hold the series edge so far this season with a 5-3 record against the RoadRunners.