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NAHL Weekend Preview

October 31, 2014
Things got off to an early start this weekend in the NAHL with three games on Thursday night. It was a haunting time for the goalies as the three games featured a total of 32 goals. All four divisions feature at least one inter-division match-up this weekend and there are three series that feature out-of-division match-ups. 
Things are very tight still in all four divisions.  Other than Topeka’s lead in the South Division, no division leader has a lead of more than three points and two of the four division leaders lead by just a single point.
Watch all the action live this weekend on FASTHockey
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Central Division
Bismarck vs. Brookings (home and home) – Rarely can games in late October, early November be considered ‘must wins,’ but in the case of Bismarck and Brookings this weekend, there may be an early sense of desperation. After dropping a 6-4 decision at home to Minot on Thursday, the Bobcats find themselves in last place in the Central just a point behind 4th place Brookings. The Bobcats have lost three in a row, but to have yet to face the Blizzard yet this season. The Blizzard have won two of their last three games.
Minot @ Aberdeen – The red-hot Minotauros, winners of five of their last six games, pay a visit to Aberdeen to take on the Wings, who have struggled as of late. Aberdeen has lost five of their last six games to fall to 3rd place in the Central Division just two points ahead of last place Bismarck. With 19 points, the Minotauros are just a point behind 1st place Austin. Minot is coming off of a 6-4 win in Bismarck on Friday. Minot goaltender Atte Tolvanen has won four of his last five starts.
Midwest Division
MN Wilderness @ Fairbanks – The Ice Dogs open up a long homestand with a pair of games against the Wilderness. The Ice Dogs are one of the hottest teams in the league, winners of their last five and eight of their last nine games. Ethan Somoza has been on fire the last five games, scoring eight goals. The Wilderness are coming off a split in Kenai River last weekend and are just 2-3 in their last five games. Forward Niklas Lehtimaki had five points last weekend, including three goals.
North Division
Johnstown @ Soo – The suddenly hot Soo Eagles return home this weekend to host the Tomahawks. The Eagles are coming off a road sweep of the Michigan Warriors, while Johnstown split with Keystone in a home-and-home series. This is the first meeting of the year between the two clubs. The Eagles have won five of their last seven games and are just a point behind 1st place Janesville. The Tomahawks are still looking for consistency, but forward Cam Bleck has been hot as of late with six points in his last five games.
Michigan @ Springfield – Michigan makes their first trip to Springfield this season, as the Jr. Blues look to avenge their series in Flint two weeks ago. The Jr. Blues were off last weekend, but the weekend prior to that they were swept by the Warriors, scoring just twice in the series. Alex Berardinelli has paced the Warriors lately with seven points in his last five games, which includes a five-game point streak.  Kyle Meeh leads the way for the Jr. Blues with nine points.
Idle: Keystone
South Division
Topeka @ Amarillo – After a weekend sweep of Corpus Christi last weekend, the Bulls are just a game below .500 and look to make a statement this weekend against the RoadRunners. Topeka has the NAHL’s best record at 13-2-1 and they already have a nine-point lead in the South heading into their road series in Amarillo. Topeka has won three in a row and seven of their last eight games. At the beginning of October, Topeka took a pair of one-goal games against the Bulls in Topeka.
Wichita Falls @ Corpus Christi – Two of the teams that log-jammed in the middle of the South standings finish their series tonight in Corpus Christi as the IceRays host the Wildcats. With a 7-4 win on Thursday night over the Wildcats, the IceRays moved into 2nd place in the South Division. Forward Wes Michaud is 4th in NAHL scoring with 21 points and defenseman Anthony Cortese leads all NAHL defensemen in scoring with 15 points. The Wildcats have given up 12 goals in their last two games. Evan Okeley has seven points in his last five outings.
Rio Grande Valley @ Odessa (Sat) – The Jackalopes pulled out a 6-5 shootout win over the Killer Bees on Thursday night during the Jackalopes home opener. The win snapped a six-game losing skid for Odessa. The loss kept the Killer Bees at the .500 mark this season and three points out of 4th place in the South. Since joining the team earlier this month, Rio Grande Valley forward Stathis Soumelidis has five points in four games, including two goals on Thursday. Odessa’s Kenny Hausinger is tied for the NAHL scoring lead with 22 points.
Idle: Lone Star
Coulee Region vs. Austin (home and home) – The struggling Chill can make a statement and get things headed back in the right direction with two games against Central Division-leading Austin this weekend. The Bruins have only lost once in regulation during their last nine games, while the Chill have lost five in a row. Getting out on the road for the Chill may not be a bad thing as they are just 1-4-2 at home this season. The Bruins meanwhile are 4-0-2 at home and are being led by forward Jacob Kullberg, who was the Central Division Star of the Week this past week.
Janesville @ MN Magicians – Two of the hotter teams in the NAHL clash this weekend as the Jets pay a visit to Richfield to play the Magicians. Thanks to a four-game winning streak, the Jets find themselves in 1st place in the North Division. Forward Zach Lavalle has nine points in his last five games and goalie Matt Jurusik is 3-0 in that time frame. The Magicians have won three of their last four, including a weekend sweep of Aberdeen last weekend. Goalie Chris Amsden has started the last four games and was named the Midwest Division Star of the Week last week for allowing just one goal in the two wins.
Kenai River @ Wenatchee – An old division rivalry is renewed this weekend as the Brown Bears play a three-game set in Wenatchee against the Wild. Looking at the standings, it is no secret that both teams need wins and points badly. The Wild are in last place in the South and have just one win in their last six games. The Brown Bears are tied for last place in the Midwest with Coulee Region and are coming off a six-game homestand in which they went just 3-3. Forward Jack Gessert is pacing the Brown Bears with eight points in his last five games.
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