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NAHL Weekend Preview

October 10, 2014

It is a busy weekend in the NAHL with all 24 teams taking to the ice this weekend. Things will be busiest outside of division play as five out-of-division series are on tap for this weekend.  Meanwhile in the South, all eight teams are in action against one another. There are two series in the North and one series in the Central. The rest are all out-of-division games.

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Central Division

Austin @ Aberdeen – The lone series in the Central Division this weekend features the Bruins traveling to Aberdeen with revenge on their mind. Last weekend, the Wings took a pair of close games against the Bruins in Austin, winning 1-0 in overtime on Friday and 4-3 in a shootout on Saturday. Wings goalie Andrew Shortridge is currently the NAHL’s top-ranked goalie with a 0.97 GAA and a 96.4% save percentage.

North Division

Johnstown @ Michigan – The Warriors are coming off a very important road sweep in Keystone, while the Tomahawks were off last weekend. Although the Warriors have played two more games, the two teams are tied in the North standings, both with six points. Michigan goaltender Trevor Gorsuch was named the North Division star of the week last week for his efforts in the sweep.

Keystone @ Springfield – Despite being swept last weekend at home, the Ice Miners are still in 1st place in the North Division, while the Jr. Blues are coming off a weekend home split with Soo. The three games this weekend wrap-up a five-game homestand for the Jr. Blues. Springfield is led by Josh Lammon and Nikita Prishyvalko, who both have five points, while Keystone is led by Matt Jones, who has seven points.

South Division

Wichita Falls @ Amarillo (Fri) – The Bulls start a 7-game homestand in very unfamiliar territory as they are in second to last place in the South. The Bulls have lost four in a row, including two one-goal losses last weekend in Topeka. The Wildcats have won five of their last six games, but suffered a 5-1 loss at home against Lone Star last Saturday. Wichita Falls is tied for 2nd place in the South with Corpus Christi, both with 12 points.

Corpus Christi @ Lone Star – The Brahmas open up their 2014-15 home campaign as they host the IceRays. The IceRays have won three in a row, which included a home sweep of Wenatchee last weekend. The IceRays have been doing it with defense, as they have allowed just four goals in the last three games. Brahmas forward Sebastian Vidmar was named the South Division player of the week last week.

Wenatchee @ Rio Grande Valley – The Killer Bees have won three of their last four games, which included a home split last weekend with Odessa. Meanwhile, the Wild are in last place in the South, as they have dropped five of their last six games, which included two games last weekend in Corpus Christi. Wenatchee is being led offensively by Jake Ahlgren, who has seven points in eight games, while the Killer Bees are led by Dan Kucerovy, who has seven goals, which ranks 2nd in the NAHL.

Odessa @ Topeka – Two of the league’s better offenses square off in Topeka this weekend as Odessa pays a visit.  The two teams have two of the three top power plays in the NAHL. A match-up to keep an eye on is the goaltending of RoadRunners goalie Matej Tomek, who is ranked 2nd in NAHL goaltending, against the likes of Odessa forwards Derek Brown and Kenny Hausinger, who both have a share of the NAHL scoring lead with 15 points to date.

Out-of-Division

MN Wilderness @ Soo – The Wilderness and their trademark stingy defense pay a visit to Soo for Pink in the Rink weekend. Minnesota is right back on top of the Midwest Division and with a 6-1 record, have the best winning percentage in the NAHL. The have allowed just 13 goals in their seven games played. Meanwhile, the Eagles appear to a triple-headed offensive threat in Bruno Birzitis (15 pts), Sandis Zolmanis (14 pts.) and Trevor Cope (13 pts.). Cope leads all NAHL players in goals with 10.

Coulee Region @ Janesville – The battle of Wisconsin resumes this weekend as the Chill travel Southeast to Janesville to take on the Jets for Pink in the Rink weekend. The Jets, who are in 2nd place in the North with 10 points, are coming off a bye weekend and have won their last three games. The Chill split a series in Brookings last weekend. Richard Zehnal leads Coulee Region with nine points, while Brandon Schultz is pacing the Jets with 11 points.

MN Magicians vs. Brookings (home and home) – In a home and home series this weekend, the Magicians travel to Brookings on Friday, while the Blizzard return the favor on Saturday. Brookings is hovering at the .500 mark, while the Magicians are a game above .500. Minnesota wants to get their offense back on track, as they have scored just two goals in their last two games. The Blizzard took three of four possible points in their series against Coulee Region last weekend. Forward Beau Michaud is one of the league’s scoring leaders with 12 points.

Minot @ Fairbanks – The Ice Dogs look to keep their home momentum rolling as they host the Minotauros. Minot took three of four points last weekend in Kenai River and goalie Atte Tolvanen won the Central Division player of the week last week.  He will be up against Fairbanks goalie Patrick Munson who was the Midwest Division Star of the Week. Tolvanen has allowed two goals in regulation in his last three starts, while Munson has allowed three goals in his last two games.

Bismarck @ Kenai River – The Bobcats are coming off of two close losses in Fairbanks and look to right the ship in Kenai River. With a 3-5 record, Bismarck sits in last place in the Central Division, but goalie Alex Bitsakis ranks 7th in the NAHL with a 1.76 GAA. On the Brown Bears side, Josh Creelman has been stellar in goal with a .96 GAA and a 97.3% save percentage in two appearances to date. Kenai River defenseman Tyler Andrews in tied for the NAHL scoring lead for defensemen with nine points.

 
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