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NAHL Weekend Preview

November 21, 2014
It is another busy weekend in the NAHL as teams prepare for the mid-season stretch run into the holidays. All 24 NAHL teams are in action this weekend and the action features at least one series in each division, along with four out-of-division match-ups. While Fairbanks has opened up a nine point lead in the Midwest, the rest of the divisions remain tight.
 
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Central Division
Minot vs. Bismarck (home and home) – The Bobcats have garnered points in four of their last five games and they prepare for a home-and-home series against Minot. The Minotauros were swept last weekend and now find themselves a point out of 1st place in the Central. The two teams have faced one another only once so far this season during the regular season, which resulted in a 6-4 win for Minot back on October 30th in Bismarck. Minot forward Blake Lizotte was the Central Star of the Week last week.
 
Aberdeen vs. Brookings (home and home) – The Wings have won three of four games (all one goal games) including road wins last weekend at Brookings and at Bismarck. The Wings have won both match-ups against the Blizzard so far this season, with both games being played in Brookings. The Blizzard have lost four of their last five games and have won just three games at home in 10 tries this season.
 
Midwest Division
MN Magicians @ Fairbanks – Despite having dropped their last two games, the Fairbanks Ice Dogs maintain the largest division lead with a nine-point edge in the Midwest. 10 points behind Fairbanks sit the Magicians, who have lost four in a row and five of their last six games.  This weekend is two of only four games between the division rivals. The Magicians were swept last weekend in Kenai River and have given up 18 goals in their last four games.
 
North Division
Keystone @ Janesville – Keystone is riding high of their come-from-behind win on Thursday night in Springfield, which snapped a five-game losing streak. Scoring has been an issue for the Ice Miners as they have just six goals in their last five games. The Jets have a two-point lead atop the North and are one of only three NAHL teams with 14 wins or more. The Jets have won five of their last six and swept the Ice Miners two weeks ago in Keystone.
 
Johnstown @ Soo – Despite being a game over .500, the Tomahawks find themselves in last place in the North and will travel to Soo for a Saturday and Sunday game. The two teams have played one another three times so far this year with Johnstown owning a 2-1 edge, including a 5-2 win one week ago in a game in Johnstown. Tomahawks forward Casey Linkenheld has four points in his five games, while Soo forward Mitch Vanderburg has eight points in his last five games.
 
South Division
Odessa @ Corpus Christi – The Jackalopes are behind the 8-ball thanks to six straight losses and 12 losses in their last 13 games.  Back on October 2nd the Jackalopes were sitting at an event 4-4, but have gone 1-9-3 since.  Odessa did pick up a point earlier in the week in a home shootout loss to Wichita Falls. The IceRays have won their last three game and four of their last five and swept the Jackalopes two weekends ago in Corpus Christi.
 
Rio Grande Valley @ Wichita Falls – Quick, who has the best record in the NAHL?  That would be the Wichita Falls Wildcats, who at 13-4 have a .765 winning percentage, the best in the league. That is thanks in large part to five straight wins and wins in seven of their last eight games. This weekend is the two of the eight meetings the teams will play against one another this season. The Killer Bees are at the end of a nine-game road swing and they have lost four straight games. Despite that, the Killer Bees still sit in a tie for 5th place in the South Division.
 
Amarillo @ Lone Star – The team with the second best record in the league and the top defense in the league is the Lone Star Brahmas, who will host the Amarillo Bulls this weekend. The Brahmas are giving up just over two goals per game and also have a Top 5 offense, which is one of the reasons behind their 12-4-1 record. Forward Sebastian Vidmar leads the league in game-winning goals and is tied for the league-lead in goals. The Bulls are coming off a weekend home sweep of Odessa, but they are also the most penalized team in the NAHL.
 
Out-of-Division
Coulee Region @ Michigan – The Chill are playing well as of late, taking points in their last six games with a 4-0-2 record in that span. That includes a shootout win and loss last weekend in La Crosse against their opponent this weekend, the Michigan Warriors. Chill goaltender Adam Carlson ranks 2nd in the NAHL with a 93.5% save percentage. As good as Carlson has been, Michigan goalie Ryan Wischow has been better. The 18-year-old leads the NAHL in goals against average (1.61) and save percentage (94.9%).
 
Austin @ MN Wilderness – Despite two wins in their last seven games, the Austin Bruins sit atop the Central Division by a point over Minot. That is thanks in large part to only four regulation losses and an NAHL-high seven losses in either overtime or a shootout, which both earn the Bruins points. The Wilderness have moved into 2nd place in the Midwest Division thanks to wins in three of their last four games. Minnesota has allowed just six goals in their last four games.
 
Springfield @ Topeka – After a 10-game roadtrip, the Topeka RoadRunners finally return home for the first time since October 12th as they host the Jr. Blues. The Jr. Blues are coming off an overtime home loss on Thursday to Keystone by a 2-1 score. The Jr. Blues are still one of the hotter teams in the league, winners of six of their last eight games, including a home sweep last weekend of the RoadRunners. The Jr. Blues have done it behind the goaltending tandem of Dryden McKay and Niko Dellamaggorie. Despite having lost their last four games, Topeka still holds a six point lead in the South Division.
 
Wenatchee @ Kenai River – Thanks to three wins in their last four games, the Wild have moved into a 5th place tie in the South Division. Of Wenatchee’s seven wins this season, forward David Powlowski had three of the seven game-winning goals. This weekend marks the first of four straight games the Brown Bears and Wild will face one another.  The Brown Bears took two of three games the last time the two teams met back on the end of October into early November. With 14 goals, Brown Bears forward Jack Gessert shares the NAHL lead. 
 
 
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