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NAHL Weekend Preview

February 28, 2014
With just one month remaining in the NAHL regular season, valuable points are on the line as the league sees another big weekend filled with important divisional match-ups with playoff implications. 23 of the 24 teams in the league enter the final month of the season with a chance to make the playoffs.
 
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Central Division
Aberdeen vs. Bismarck (home and home) – In what could be a potential first round playoff match-up, Bismarck and Aberdeen tangle with one another in a home and home series. The two clubs are separated by just two points and what happens this weekend may determine who gets home ice in the playoffs. Aberdeen has an edge in the season series with five wins in nine games.
 
Minot @ Austin – The Bruins can gain some more ground on their division lead this weekend as they host Minot. The Minotauros are in the 4th and final playoff spot in the Central, but have Brookings hot on their heels. The Bruins have faced the Minotauros just four times this season and hold a 3-1 edge. All games have been decided by two goals or less. Minot has lost five of their last six games, while Austin is on a two-game winning streak.
 
Midwest Division
Fairbanks @ Coulee Region – The Chill find themselves in a tie for 3rd place in the Midwest, while the Ice Dogs have their eyes set on another division title with a 12 point lead in the division. Fairbanks has won seven of their last eight games and have yet to lose a game in regulation in February. The Chill have lost two of their last three games, but they took two of three games in Fairbanks during the only other time the two clubs met back in mid-October.
 
Kenai River @ Wenatchee – The Wild took the first of the three game series on Thursday night by a 4-2 score, with the final two games of the series set for Saturday and Sunday. The win by the Wild put them four points ahead of the Brown Bears for the 4th and final playoff spot in the Midwest and into a 3rd place tie with Coulee Region. The Wild have won four of their last five games. Each team owns five wins so far in the 10-game series to date.
 
North Division
Johnstown @ Michigan – In another potential first round playoff match-up, Johnstown visits Michigan this weekend with the two teams tied in the standings for 2nd place in the North. This weekend’s series could go a long way in determining who will get home ice advantage in the North Semi-Finals. Johnstown holds the series edge to date with six wins in 10 games. The two teams met two weeks ago in Johnstown with the Tomahawks sweeping the weekend series.
 
Port Huron @ Soo – Time is running out for the Eagles to make the playoffs, but they are just two points out of the final spot with the 1st place Fighting Falcons coming to town. Port Huron has won their last four games, while the Eagles are on a six-game losing streak. The Fighting Falcons hold the series edge in the eight games played to date, as they are 5-1-2 against the Eagles. Port Huron forward Bryan Yim has seven points in his last five games.
 
Springfield @ Janesville – It doesn’t get any more important this weekend for the Jr. Blues and Jets this weekend in a series showdown that could determine who eventually ends up with the 4th and final playoff spot in the North. Springfield is in the 4th spot now, two points ahead of Janesville. The two teams haven’t faced one another since mid-December and the Jets hold a 4-1 edge in the five games played to date.
 
South Division
Rio Grande Valley @ Topeka – All eyes in the South will be on the Killer Bees vs. RoadRunners series as the two playoff bound clubs battle for 2nd place in the South and home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Topeka hasn’t played a home game yet in February, but have won five of their last six games. The Killer Bees have won six in a row and split the only series to date with the RoadRunners back on January 31-February 1.
 
Wichita Falls @ Odessa – With the departure of Odessa head coach Matt Cressman earlier on Friday, things just got a little more interesting for this weekend’s series with the Wildcats. Wichita Falls is looking to secure the South’s 4th and final playoff spot, while the Jackalopes will be under the direction of the new bench boss in Greg Gatto. The Wildcats swept a two-game series with the Jackalopes in Odessa last weekend by a combined score of 11-4. The Wildcats own a 7-1 record against the Jacks this season.
 
Corpus Christi @ Lone Star – Although still alive for a playoff spot, both Corpus Christi and Lone Star have to win and win often, which makes this series all the more important. The Brahmas are coming off a 2-1 win over Topeka last Saturday, while the IceRays have yet to win a game in February.  Despite owning a 4-1-1 record this season against the Brahmas, the IceRays have lost their last two games against Lone Star. The teams have not faced one another since early January.
 
Out-of-Division
Brookings @ Minnesota Wilderness – The Wilderness are solidly in 2nd place in the Midwest and at this point are likely just trying to secure home ice in the 1st round of the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Blizzard need every point they can muster at this point, as they are six points out of the 4th and final playoff spot in the Central Division. The Blizzard, who are coming off a big sweep of Bismarck last weekend, defeated the Wilderness 3-2 in the only other game to date between the two clubs back on New Year’s Eve.
 
 
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