NAHL Weekend Preview
February 7, 2014
Less than two months remain in the NAHL regular season and with the trade deadline now come and gone, it is time for teams to put the pedal to the metal in their final push for a playoff spot. Not one team has yet to clinch a playoff spot and every team is still mathematically in the race, which is a testament to the parity this year in the NAHL.
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Aberdeen Wings vs. Brookings Blizzard (home and home) – With 15 games to go, Brookings is eight points out of the 4th and final playoff spot, so the Blizzard need wins from here on out. The Wings, who beat Minot on Thursday 6-3, are firmly in 3rd place and have a 4-1 record against the Blizzard this season. Wings forward Bjorn Sigurdarson has eight points in his last five games. The Wings scored six unanswered goals after falling behind 3-0 in their game Thursday to Minot. The Blizzard have won just two of their last seven games.
Bismarck Bobcats vs. Minot Minotauros (home and home) – The Bobacts have a golden opportunity to take over 1st place in the Central Division this weekend, but the Minotauros may have something to say about it. Minot and Bismarck have played eight games against one another this season, with each team winning four games so far. The last four contests have been decided by a goal, including the last time the two teams played on January 19th when Minot came away with a 2-1 win at home.
Minnesota Wilderness @ Coulee Region Chill – The battle for 2nd place in the Midwest Division continues this weekend in Onalaska, Wisconsin as the Chill host the Wilderness. Coulee Region owns a 3-1 record against Minnesota this season, which includes a weekend split back in mid-January during the last time the two teams met. The Wilderness are on fire, winners of their last six games. Goalie Frank Oplinger has started the last 13 games. Despite a road split in Janesville last weekend, the Chill have won eight of their last 11 games.
Wenatchee Wild @ Fairbanks Ice Dogs – With a 3-2 loss on Thursday night in Fairbanks, the Wild fell back into 5th place in the Midwest Division. It has been a tight series between the two teams. In eight games, each team has won four times. Fairbanks’ 11-point lead in the Midwest is the largest lead of any division leader in the NAHL and their 33 wins also leads the league. In Thursday’s 3-2 win over the Wild, Brett Gervais, Tayler Munson and Chandler Madry all scored. Gervais has seven points and five goals in his last five games.
Soo Eagles @ Michigan Warriors – The Warriors will be without head coach Moe Mantha this weekend who injured his leg in a fall during the week. Flint Junior Generals NA3HL head coach Steve Howard will be on the bench for the Warriors as they host the red-hot Eagles, who have moved into the 4th and final playoff spot in the North. The series could not be more even this season with each team posting a 4-3-1 record to date against one another.
Port Huron Fighting Falcons @ Janesville Jets – It has been a very one-sided series thus far between Port Huron and Janesville this season, with the Fighting Falcons winning all four games to date by a combined 22-8. The last time that Port Huron was in Janesville was in mid-October when they swept their weekend series. Despite having lost four of their last six games, Port Huron still has a five-point lead in the North. Janesville has won just two of their last nine and are nine points out of the 4th and final playoff spot.
Topeka RoadRunners @ Corpus Christi IceRays – Topeka goaltender PJ Bridges continued to make his MVP case last night as he posted his 7th shutout of the season in a 4-0 win in Corpus Christi. In their last 13 games, the RoadRunners have lost in regulation just once. In three games against the IceRays this season, Topeka has allowed just one goal. Forward Jake Kamrass has seven points in his last five games. Corpus Christi defenseman Kyle Froese has been the hottest team player of late, scoring goals in his last five games.
Odessa Jackalopes @ Lone Star Brahmas – Both teams are well outside the playoffs and need a string of wins in the next two months to pull of a big comeback. Two of the Brahmas last four wins came against Amarillo and Topeka. The Brahmas are 3-1 against the Jackalopes his season, which includes a weekend sweep in Odessa back on December 27-28 during the last time the two teams played. Odessa’s Alex Alger has five points in his last five games.
Out of Division
Springfield Jr. Blues @ Minnesota Magicians – The Magicians are riding high off their weekend split in Springfield last weekend. Their 7-1 win last Saturday snapped a 10-game losing streak. The Jr. Blues are two points out of the 4th and final playoff spot in the North Division and have lost four of their last six games. Rookie forward Max Kalter has five points in his last five games. Magicians defenseman Sam Becker is the reigning Midwest Division player of the week and has six points in his last five games
Austin Bruins @ Kenai River Brown Bears – Zach Quinn made 46 saves in Thursday night’s 4-3 win over Austin. After winning their last six, the Bruins have dropped their last three straight games and now just have a one-point lead atop the Central Division. With the 4-3 win on Thursday, Kenai River moved back into the 4th and final playoff spot in the Midwest, one point ahead of Wenatchee. Brown Bears forward Alec Butcher, who leads the NAHL in scoring and made a NCAA Division I commitment this past week, has five points in his last five games.