NAHL Weekend Preview
March 14, 2014
Just three weekends of games remain in the quest to make the Robertson Cup Playoffs for many NAHL clubs. Three of the four top spots in the divisions are still up for grabs and only one division (South) knows which four teams will be in. With that said, this weekend provides many teams with the opportunity to improve their positions and get valuable points for seeding.
Brookings Blizzard @ Aberdeen Wings – Both teams would like wins for various reasons. The Wings still have a shot at the Central Division title as they are just three points back of Austin for 1st place. Meanwhile, Brookings needs wins and they need them now. The Blizzard are six points out of the final playoff spot in the division with just six games to go. With the last four all coming against Minot, the team they are chasing, they have to stay within striking distance if they want a shot the next two weeks.
Bismarck Bobcats vs. Minot Minotauros – Bismarck is in a race for home ice in the first round with Aberdeen, but they are six points back with six to play. Minot has a comfortable lead on Brookings, but things can turn in just a few days, so the Minotauros want to pick up some more wins. The 10-game series to date has been a close one between the two clubs with Bismarck winning six of the 10.
Coulee Region Chill @ Minnesota Wilderness – Thanks to a 3-2 win on Thursday night, the Chill moved back into a tie for 3rd place in the Midwest. The Wilderness, meanwhile, are just a couple wins away from securing the #2 seed and home ice advantage in the 1st round of the playoffs, which at this point could be against one of three teams. The Chill have dominated the season series against the Wilderness this season, posting a 6-1 record to date.
Michigan Warriors @ Janesville Jets – The Warriors are comfortably in 2nd place in the North, but the Jets have teams all around them. Janesville is in the 4th and final playoff spot. The good news is that they are just a point back of 3rd place Johnstown, but the bad news is that the Soo Eagles and Springfield Jr. Blues are just a few points back from knocking them out of the playoffs, which makes this series a big one. Janesville has beat Michigan two out of three times this season, but they haven’t faced one another since early January.
Johnstown Tomahawks @ Springfield Jr. Blues – Now four points back of the 4th and final playoff spot in the North, the Springfield Jr. Blues have to consider this weekend’s series against the Tomahawks a ‘must-win’ to stay alive in the playoff race. The weekend is equally important for the Tomahawks who are hanging onto 3rd place by just a point and also need the wins. The Tomahawks are 4-2 against the Jr. Blues, but were swept in Springfield back in early January.
Soo Eagles @ Port Huron Fighting Falcons – Port Huron is just a few wins away from locking up the North Division title, while the Eagles sit just two points out of the 4th and final playoff spot in the North. Out of the 10 games played against one another this season, five of them have been decided in overtime or a shootout. The two clubs split a series just two weeks ago in the Soo.
Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees @ Odessa Jackalopes – Just five points back of 2nd place Topeka, there is plenty of valuable points on the line for the Killer Bees, who do not face a playoff-bound team the rest of the regular season. Odessa is out of the playoff picture, so there is plenty of opportunity here for the Killer Bees to make up some ground. However, you can be sure that Odessa is still playing for pride and for spots on next year’s team.
Amarillo Bulls @ Lone Star Brahmas – The Bulls title quest heads South to North Richland Hills for a date with the resurgent Brahmas, who have just one regulation loss in their last five games. Despite the 3-7 record against the Bulls this season, two of the wins came at home, which is where Lone Star finds themselves this weekend. Meanwhile, the Bulls have a one-point edge for the Division lead over Topeka and can create a little bit of space before heading up to Topeka for games on Monday and Tuesday.
Out of Division
Kenai River Brown Bears @ Wichita Falls Wildcats – The Wildcats are in the playoffs and still have a mathematical chance at trying to catch Rio Grande Valley for the #3 seed. However, the real pressure rides with the Brown Bears, who find themselves on the outside looking in of the playoff picture in the Midwest Division. Kenai River is three points back of both Coulee Region and Wenatchee. With the Wild idle this weekend, it is a perfect chance for the Brown Bears to make up some valuable points.
Minnesota Magicians @ Austin Bruins – With the Magicians out of the playoff race and the Bruins trying to fend off Aberdeen for the Central title, all signs would point to Austin being the heavy favorite in the series at home. However, that’s why they play the game. The Magicians have won five of their last eight games. The two clubs have faced one another just twice this season with the last meeting being a 4-1 win by Austin in Richfield back on March 5th.