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NAHL Weekend Preview

February 6, 2015
Today marks the NAHL trading deadline and by now most teams are set with their rosters for the remainder of the 2014-15 season. It also marks the first time that we could see NAHL teams begin to clinch playoff spots.
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Central Division
Aberdeen @ Brookings (Fri) – Brookings enters their game with Aberdeen just two points behind 4th place Aberdeen. Late week, Brookings took home a 5-1 win in Aberdeen and then earned a home split with Minot. Brookings forward Nate Colwell has eight points in his last five games. Aberdeen holds the series edge to date with 5 wins in 9 games. Wings forward Kyle Haak has four points in his last five games. The two teams face one another two more times after this weekend with a series in Aberdeen on March 13-14.
Bismarck @ Aberdeen – Bismarck looks like they are headed for 3rd place in the Division as they sit 12 points behind 2nd place Austin and seven points ahead of 4th place Aberdeen. The Wings can try and gain some ground, but will on the back-end of their game Friday night in Brookings. The Bobcats have dominated the series with the Wings to date, posting a 6-1-1 record in the eight games played. The Bobcats and Wings split a series last weekend in Bismarck. Hunter Shepard has started the last four games in goal for the Bobcats.
Midwest Division
Kenai River @ Fairbanks – The Brown Bears, who are in last place in the Midwest Division, have to start winning if they want to make the post-season. With 16 games remaining, Kenai River is three points out of the final playoff spot in the Midwest. It will be a tall order for the Brown Bears as they are just 1-7 in the eight games against Fairbanks this season. Fairbanks has won 8 of their last 10 games and sit just one point out of the top spot in the Midwest Division. Ice Dogs forward Jesper Ohrvall has 10 goals and 12 points in his last five games.
North Division
Soo @ Keystone – The Ice Miners, who are firmly in 2nd place in the North, enter the game on a 10-1-1 streak, while the Eagles have lost four of their last five games. The two teams have faced one another just four times this season and haven’t played a series since mid-November. It has been an even series to date, with each team winning two games. Eagles forward Brad Pung has five goals in his last five games, while Keystone forward Noah Batis has four goals and six points in his last five games.
Johnstown @ Michigan – The Warriors have 17 games remaining and are almost entering must-win territory, now seven points out of the 4th and final playoff spot, which is held by Johnstown. After seven straight losses, the Tomahawks picked up a three-game sweep in Springfield last weekend. Goalie Jake Gwillim has been busy of late, making 140 saves in his last three starts. Tomahawks defenseman Steven Quagliata has seven points in his last five games. Michigan forward Tyler Groat leads the team in scoring with 30 points and 15 goals in 39 games played. Each club has won four games in the eight games played to date.
South Division
Lone Star @ Corpus Christi – It has been since early October since Lone Star and Corpus Christi have faced one another. The Brahmas enter the series with a 2-1 edge and in a tie for 2nd place in the South. The IceRays are firmly in 4th place in the South Division, seven points behind Lone Star and Wichita Falls and six points ahead of 5th place Wenatchee. Brahmas forward Storm Wahlrab has six points in his last five games. The IceRays have won their last four games, which all have come on the road.
Amarillo @ Rio Grande Valley (Fri) – Not much ground was gained by the Killer Bees in their 2-1 shootout win over Amarillo on Thursday night. However, the extra point was enough for the Killer Bees to move into a tie for the 6th and final playoff spot in the South with the Bulls. Each team now has 38 points. Rio Grande Valley has won five of the seven games played against the Bulls this season. Friday marks the final time of the regular season the two teams will face one another. 13 of the remaining 18 games for Rio Grande Valley are at home. After Friday’s game, all of Amarillo’s remaining games will be against teams ahead of them in the standings.
Out of Division
Coulee Region vs. Janesville – The Chill will try and cool down the red-hot Jets who are on the verge of a playoff spot and closing in on the North Division title. The two teams are headed in opposite directions as Janesville has won eight in a row and 18 of their last 19, while the Chill have won just twice in their last 11 games played. However, Coulee Region has held their own against the Jets this season winning half of the six games played to date. The Chill handed the Jets their only loss in the last 19 games, which was a 3-0 shutout back on January 3rd. 
Minot @ MN Wilderness – It is a unique battle of 1st place teams this weekend as Minot pays a visit to Cloquet to face the Wilderness. However, 1st place for both is an uncomfortable place to be, as both team’s leads in their respective divisions are small. Minot leads Austin in the Central Division by two points, while the Wilderness lead the Ice Dogs in the Midwest by a single point. The two teams played a series back in Minot on November 14-15, with the Wilderness coming away with two, one-goal wins.  The Minotauros are a league-best 18-2-2 on the road this season.
Topeka @ Springfield – After a weekend off, the RoadRunners return to the ice against a Jr. Blues team that has given them trouble in recent times. This season, the Jr. Blues have won four of the six games played to date, which included a weekend sweep during the last time the two clubs met in Springfield back on November 14-15. However, the Jr. Blues have fallen out of the top four spots in the North thanks to just one win in their last six games. Topeka has won four of their last five games and their lead in the South Division stands at five points.
Austin vs. MN Magicians – Despite having only won one of their last seven and two of their last 14, the Magicians occupy the 4th and final playoff spot in the Midwest Division with a three-point lead over Kenai River. The Bruins have closed the gap in the Central Division to just two points for the top spot and have been dominant against the Magicians this season, winning all six outings. That included a home-and-home sweep last weekend of Minnesota. The Bruins have lost just two games in regulation since November 26th. Austin’s annual Pink in the Rink night is Saturday and expected to be another sellout.
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