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NAHL Weekend Preview

February 20, 2015
More playoff spots are on the line this weekend as the NAHL has a jam-packed schedule with all 24 teams in action on Friday and Saturday night.  Following that, Sunday will be a travel day as all the league’s head coaches and 100 of its players will make their way to Ann Arbor, Michigan for the 2015 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament, which begins on Monday. This weekend is highlighted by some exciting out-of-division action, a full slate of South Division action and some key match-ups in the Central Division.
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Central Division
Minot @ Aberdeen (Fri) – Minot enters their contest on Friday in Aberdeen having lost five of their last six and are now three points behind 1st place Austin. Back on January 16-17, the Minotauros picked up a weekend sweep in Aberdeen by scores of 3-2 and 3-1. In nine games against the Wings this season, Minot has six wins. The Wings have won three of their last four and hold a four-point edge over Brookings for the 4th and final playoff spot.
Bismarck @ Brookings (Fri) – The time for the Blizzard to win is now as they are four points out of the playoff picture. The last time the two teams played was back on January 24th in Bismarck with the Bobcats coming away with a 3-2 win in overtime. The Bobcats have won 7 of the 11 meetings so far this season. The Blizzard have lost four of their last five games.
Bismarck @ Aberdeen (Sat) – Saturday will be the fifth time in the last three weeks that Bismarck will have faced the Wings. Bismarck has been fairly dominant, winning 7 of the 10 games against Aberdeen this season. Bismarck forward Jared Pike has five points in his last five games, while Aberdeen forward Michael Soucier has eight points in his last five games.
Minot @ Brookings – Minot has a 6-2 edge against Brookings this season. The two clubs played three weeks ago in Brookings with the Minotauros taking three of four points in a 6-3 win and a 4-3 overtime loss.  Brookings has to tighten up their defense as they have allowed 22 goals in the last five games, while Minot has allowed 14 in that same stretch.
Midwest Division
MN Magicians @ Coulee Region – Just one inter-divisional match-up takes place in the Midwest this weekend as the Magicians visit the Chill. The Magicians have lost their last five games, but remain in the 4th and final playoff spot in the Midwest, four points ahead of Kenai River. The Chill clinched a playoff berth last weekend and appeared to be headed for the #3 seed. The two teams have played one another just twice so far this season with the Chill picking up two, one-goal wins in a home-and-home series back on November 28-29.
North Division
Michigan @ Soo – The suddenly hot Warriors have won four in a row and are now just three points out of the 4th and final playoff spot in the North Division. The two teams faced one another back on January 23rd in Flint with the Eagles coming away with a 5-4 overtime win. The Eagles, who are in 3rd place in the North, have won three in a row and have had great success against Michigan this year, winning 7 of the 8 match-ups to date, although the last five games between the two clubs have been decided in either overtime or a shootout.
Janesville @ Springfield – The Jr. Blues will get their turn to try and slow down the Jets, who are the league’s hottest and best team to date. Janesville has won 12 in a row and 22 of their last 23. They have already set a team record for wins in a season and are just a few wins away from 40 wins and clinching the North Division title. The Jr. Blues are in a more desperate situation, as they are in last place in the North, four points out of a playoff spot. Surprisingly, the two teams have only played twice this season, with the Jets winning a pair of one-goal games back on September 26-27.
South Division
Topeka @ Lone Star – The top two teams in the South battle this weekend as Topeka visits Lone Star. The Brahmas need just one win to secure a playoff spot and they sit just three points behind division-leading Topeka. The RoadRunners are 5-1-1 in their last seven games, but the two teams split their last series, which was back in Topeka on January 16-17. In the six games played to date against one another, each team has three wins. Topeka forward Sly Sutter has five points in his last five games, while Lone Star forward Ludvig Larsson had seven points in that same time span.
Wichita Falls @ Amarillo – The Bulls are starting to run out of time in the race for the playoffs as they sit in 7th place in the South, five points out of the 6th and final playoff spot.  The Bulls have lost three of their last four games and have struggled against the Wildcats this season. Wichita Falls has won seven of the eight match-ups to date, which includes a pair of wins back in early January when the team’s last played one another. The Wildcats are solidly in 3rd place in the South and are 4-0-1 in their last five games.
Rio Grande Valley @ Corpus Christi – Corpus Christi has eight points on either side of them and have been in 4th place in the South for quite some time. After struggling on the road for the better part of the season, the IceRays have recently been very good away from home.  However, at 19-3, they are one of the NAHL’s best home teams this season. It is the Killer Bees who have an edge in the series so far this season, winning four of the seven match-ups. The Killer Bees are firmly in 6th place and playoff position in the South thanks to just one regulation loss in their last eight games.
Wenatchee @ Odessa – Wenatchee makes their only trip of the season to Odessa this weekend with the Jackalopes virtually out of the playoff picture in the South and Wenatchee in 5th place.  The two clubs have played one another three times this season, with the Wild holding a 2-1 edge. All those games came back in September. Wenatchee forward Brendan Harris has seven points in his last five games, while Odessa forward Razmuz Waxin-Engback has six points in his last five games.
Out of Division
Austin @ MN Wilderness – The out-of-division games this weekend is highlighted by a battle of 1st place clubs as Austin travels to Cloquet to take on the Wilderness. The Bruins are three points up atop the Central Division thanks to a 9-1-3 run in their last 13 games. The Wilderness, who lead the Midwest by just a single point over Fairbanks, have won three of the four match-ups against the Bruins this season, including a 3-2 shootout win back on January 28th in Austin.
Keystone @ Fairbanks – The Ice Miners take the 3,200-mile trip to Fairbanks as both teams sit in 2nd place in their respective divisions. Keystone has struggled to find the back of the net as of late, as they haven’t scored a goal in regulation in the last 142 minutes and 28 seconds. The Ice Dogs have won five in a row and six of their last seven. The two teams faced one other back on January 2-3 with Fairbanks earning a weekend split of the series. Their loss to Keystone in regulation back on January 2nd is one of just three losses in regulation since the calendar turned to 2015.
Johnstown @ Kenai River – Both teams are in the need for some valuable wins this weekend as Johnstown faces Kenai River. The Tomahawks have lost four of their last five and slipped to 4th place in the North Division, just three points ahead of 5th place Michigan. Despite having lost their last seven games in a row and 22 of their last 24 games, the Brown Bears remain just four points out of the 4th and final playoff spot in the Midwest Division, which is held by the Minnesota Magicians. The Tomahawks swept the Brown Bears in Johnstown back on January 2-3.
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