NAHL Weekend Preview
March 21, 2014
Just two weeks remain in the NAHL regular season and the playoff picture is still undetermined in all four divisions. In the Central and South, the four teams in each division that have made the playoffs are known. However, a regular season division champion is still undetermined. In the North Division, only one team has secured a spot, while in the Midwest, Fairbanks has claimed the top spot and the Minnesota Wilderness have claimed the #2 spot, with the rest undetermined.
All this weekend’s action can be watched live on FASTHockey
Bismarck Bobcats @ Austin Bruins – The Bruins are on the fast track to the Central Division title with a three-point lead over Aberdeen with four games to go. Barring a major collapse from the Wings, Bismarck is likely going to end up the #3 seed in the division. The Bobcats hold a 4-2 series edge over the Bruins, with Bismarck sweeping a two-game set the last time they visited Austin.
Brookings Blizzard @ Minot Minotauros – With Minot securing the 4th and final spot in the Central and Brookings eliminated from the playoffs, this series lost some of its luster that it had just a few weeks ago. Brookings will want to prepare for next year and maybe find some guys some playing time that they have in mind for next season, while Minot wants to stay healthy and build up some momentum. Minot owns a 5-3 series edge to date.
Coulee Region Chill vs. Minnesota Wilderness (home and home) – The Chill are 6-3 this season against the Wilderness, but the Wilderness won 2 out of 3 games last weekend. Minnesota has secured the #2 seed for home ice in the first round of the playoffs, but the Chill are in much more of a desperate situation as they are in a tie for 3rd with Wenatchee, with 5th place Kenai River one point back.
Fairbanks Ice Dogs @ Kenai River Brown Bears – Despite having clinched the Midwest Division, the Ice Dogs still are in a race to capture the top spot in the NAHL and secure home ice throughout the playoffs. However, this situation is much more critical for Kenai River, who is one point out of the final playoff spot in the division. Fairbanks owns a 10-1-1 record in 12 games against the Brown Bears this season.
Janesville Jets @ Michigan Warriors – It is a battle of 2nd and 3rd place as Michigan hosts Janesville. The Warriors are on the verge of a playoff spot and are on the fast track to the #2 seed in the North. The Jets are currently in 3rd place, but just a point ahead of Johnstown for the last playoff spot. Janesville has won three of the five games this season in the match-up with the Warriors.
Soo Eagles @ Johnstown Tomahawks – Safe to say, it is do or die time for the Soo Eagles, as they are four points out of the final playoff spot with fives games to play. Johnstown, who is in the 4th and final playoff spot, needs to win also to assure themselves a berth in the post-season. The Eagles have won five of the nine games played to date between the two clubs.
Wichita Falls Wildcats @ Amarillo Bulls – If the playoffs started today, this would be one of the Semi-Final series in the South Division. The Wildcats know they will be the #4 seed, however, the Bulls are just a point ahead of Topeka for the top spot in the South, so there is much more on the line for the Bulls. If the Wildcats want to send a message for the playoffs, this is the series to do it in. The Bulls have a 4-1-1 record in the six games played to date.
Lone Star Brahmas @ Odessa Jackalopes – It is Shriners weekend in Odessa as both teams look to build for next season. With both officially out of the playoff race for this season, this is one of the final chances for players to make a statement for their spot on the teams for the 2014-15 season.
Corpus Christi IceRays @ Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees – Things have to go exactly the right way, but there still is an outside chance for the Killer Bees to grab one of the top two spots in the South, although it is a long shot. Corpus Christi is out of the playoff picture, but a good rivalry has been established between the two clubs this season. Rio Grande Valley has won five of the eight games to date between the two clubs.
Out of Division
Minnesota Magicians @ Aberdeen Wings – The Wings have everything to play for as they are still in the hunt for the Central title, while the Magicians are out of the playoff race in the Midwest. Aberdeen swept the only other series played to date between the two clubs back in mid-November in Minnesota.
Springfield Jr. Blues @ Topeka RoadRunners – Despite being an out-of-division match-up, there is plenty on the line for both clubs. Topeka is just one point out of 1st place in the South, while the Jr. Blues are two points out of the 4th and final spot in the North. The 10-game series as been dead-even to date, with each club winning five games.
Port Huron Fighting Falcons @ Wenatchee Wild – Port Huron enters the weekend, just a win from the North Division title and having already secured a playoff spot. Wenatchee is in a tie for the final playoff spot in the Midwest, one point ahead of Kenai River. Needless to say, it is a big weekend for both clubs for different reasons. Port Huron swept the Wild in their only other series to date, back in mid-October in Port Huron.