NAHL Weekend Preview
February 27, 2015
February closes with a flurry as all 24 teams are back in action looking to improve their playoff positions. For many teams less than a dozen games remain in the regular season and very little has been decided in the NAHL playoff picture. Three of the four divisions are still up for grabs and over half of the playoff spots still remain unclaimed.
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Aberdeen @ Austin – The Bruins enter the weekend with a five-point lead atop of the division and have won seven of their last eight games. Likewise, the Wings lead for the 4th and final playoff spot in the division also sits at five points. The Wings are also hot of late, having won their last three and five of their last six. Aberdeen forward Kyle Haak has nine points in his last five games played, while Austin forward Brian Bachnak has six points in that same stretch.
Brookings @ Minot – Valuable points are on the line for both clubs as the Minotauros are close to clinching a playoff spot and can do so with a win over Brookings this weekend. With 12 games remaining in the regular season, the Blizzard are just five points back of the 4th and final playoff spot. The two teams played last Saturday with the Minotauros taking the game 3-2 in a shootout. Minot has won seven of the nine match-ups this season in the series.
Coulee Region @ MN Magicians – The Magicians come into their series with the Chill five points clear of Kenai River for the 4th and final playoff spot in the Midwest Division. The Magicians haven’t lost in regulation in the last three games, while the Chill have lost five of their last seven games. The two teams squared off last weekend in Coulee region with the Chill winning 4-3 in a shootout on Friday and the Magicians winning 3-2 on Saturday. The Chill have won three of the four games in the season series to date.
Janesville @ Michigan – Matt Jurusik and the Jets put their streaks on the line this weekend in a road series at Michigan. Jurusik has gone parts of five games and over 300 minutes without allowing a goal. Meanwhile, the Jets have won 14 games in a row and 24 of their last 25 games. The Jets have also been dominant against the Warriors this season, going a perfect 6-0 to date in the series. Michigan was swept last weekend in a series at the Soo and have scored just 11 goals in their last five games.
Springfield @ Soo – The Eagles took the first game of a three game set on Thursday night with a 2-1 win. Brad Pung, who has six points in his last five games, scored both goals in the win and goalie Chad Catt made 30 saves. Since being traded from Aberdeen, Catt has won all five of his starts with the Eagles. Overall, the Eagles have won six in a row and sit all alone in 2nd place in the North Division, two points ahead of Keystone. The Jr. Blues are six points out of the 4th and final playoff spot and have lost nine of their last 10 games.
Lone Star @ Odessa – The Brahmas sit just three points back of 1st place Topeka and can gain ground this weekend in their series in Odessa. The Brahmas have one regulation loss in the month of February and have won seven of the eight match-ups this season against the Jackalopes. The one win by the Jacks came during the last time the two teams played in Odessa back on December 27th. Brahmas forward Sebastian Vidmar, who leads the NAHL with 68 points, has seven points in his last five games played.
Wichita Falls @ Topeka – With three games in hand on both Topeka and Lone Star, the Wichita Falls Wildcats look to gain ground on both and make a statement this weekend in Topeka. Wichita Falls still has 14 games remaining in the regular season, the most in the NAHL. The Wildcats are 5-1-1 in their last seven games, while Topeka is 4-1-1 in their last six games. The series has been a very even match-up to date with each club winning three of the six games.
Corpus Christi @ Rio Grande Valley – For the second straight weekend, the IceRays and Killer Bees will tangle in a series. The Killer Bees took three of four points in their series last weekend in Corpus Christi thanks to a 4-1 win on Friday and a 1-0 shootout loss on Saturday. The Killer Bees are 6-1-3 in their last 10 games and now sit six points clear of Amarillo for the 6th and final playoff spot in the South. Rio Grande Valley has won five of the nine match-ups against Corpus Christi so far this season.
Amarillo @ Wenatchee – The Bulls make the trip North to Wenatchee to face the Wild in a big series for both clubs. In the only match-up to date, the Bulls beat the Wild back during the NAHL Showcase, 5-2. The Wild and Bulls will play one another again on March 13-14 in Amarillo. The Bulls have won two of their last three games and have gotten eight points in their last five games from forward Charlie Combs. The Wild have won three in a row and have scored 14 goals in that span.
Out of Division
MN Wilderness @ Bismarck – With a one-point lead in their division and two games in-hand, the Wilderness travel West to take on the Bobcats. With only one win in their last four games, the Bobcats are now just four points ahead of Aberdeen for 3rd place in the Central Division. However, the Bobcats have won three of the four match-ups to date, including a sweep of the Wilderness in Cloquet during the last series back on January 2-3. Bismarck forward Cullen Willox has four goals in his last five games, while Wilderness forward Darian Romanko has nine points in his last five games.
Johnstown @ Fairbanks – After a weekend split in Kenai River last weekend, the Tomahawks travel north to face the Ice Dogs. The Ice Dogs, who are a point behind the 1st place Wilderness, are also coming off a split with Keystone. Fairbanks has won six of their last seven games. The two teams split a series back in Johnstown on December 30-31. Fairbanks goalie Kevin Aldridge has won his last three starts, while Tomahawks forward Tanner Barnes has nine points in his last five games.
Keystone @ Kenai River – With 10 games remaining, the Brown Bears enter the weekend five points out of the final playoff spot in the Midwest. The Brown Bears snapped an eight-game losing streak with their 6-5 overtime win last Saturday over Johnstown. Jack Gessert had four goals in the win, including the OT-winner. The Ice Miners have lost five of their last six games and sit in 3rd place in the North, two point back of the Soo Eagles. Keystone swept Kenai River during their only other series if the year back on December 30-31.