NAHL Weekend Preview
December 11, 2015
It is another exciting weekend of hockey in the NAHL as the Christmas holiday closes in. Division races remain tight at both the top and bottom of the standings. The league will officially hit its halfway point on New Year’s Eve, which is a mere three weeks away.
This weekend has a little bit of everything for teams as they take to the ice Friday and Saturday, with no games on Sunday.
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In the Central Division, Minot is at the Minnesota Magicians, while Bismarck puts their winning streak on the line Aberdeen on Friday and Brookings on Saturday.
In the East Division, two points separates Johnstown and Aston in the standings as they collide for a weekend series.
In the Midwest, Janesville hosts Springfield in a weekend series, while the Wilderness host Coulee Region in a single match-up on Friday.
In the South Division, Wichita Falls has a 10-point lead atop the Division and will travel to Lone Star, who are in a 2nd place tie with Topeka. The red-hot RoadRunners are in Odessa, while valuable points to move up the standings are on the line in Corpus Christi as the IceRays host the Amarillo Bulls.
Out of the Divisions, both Alaska teams travel four time zones away to the East to face two clubs in the East Division as Fairbanks is in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Kenai River is in New Jersey.
Minot @ MN Magicians – The Minotauros have dropped five of their last seven games to drop out of 1st place in the standings and now sit two points back of idle Austin for the division lead. This is the first meeting of the year between the two clubs. The Magicians have won three of their last five games and forward Mitch Slattery has nine points in that time frame.
Bismarck @ Aberdeen (Fri) – The Bobcats are on their first three-game winning streak of the season as they head to Aberdeen on Friday. The Wings are riding high thanks to a 4-3 overtime win on Wednesday over Brookings. All three games between the two clubs have been in Aberdeen and all three have been won by the Bobcats, who beat Aberdeen 4-1 back on November 28th.
Bismarck @ Brookings (Sat) – The Bobcats will travel to Brookings the next night to take on the Blizzard. Brookings won the last meeting on November 25th in Bismarck by a score of 6-4 to even the series at 1-1. Bobcats defenseman Patrik Demel has eight points in his last five games, while Brookings forward Garrett Elmore has five points in that same span.
Johnstown @ Aston – Johnstown sits two points ahead of the Rebels for 2nd place in the East, although the Rebels has played five less games, while the Tomahawks are already at the halfway point of their regular season with 30 games in the books. Aston holds the series edge at 3-2, although the Tomahawks swept the last series the two teams played back on November 27-28, scoring 12 goals in the series.
Springfield @ Janesville – The Jets have won seven of their last eight games and sit one point ahead in 3rd place ahead of 4th place Springfield. The Jr. Blues snapped a five-game losing streak with a win against Coulee Region last weekend. In the season series between the two teams, it has been all Springfield as they have won all three games to date, which all came back in October. Two goalies on the NHL Central Scouting list will be in action as Tommy Nappier (Springfield) and Jack LaFontaine (Janesville) will take to the ice.
Coulee Region @ MN Wilderness (Fri) – It will be a rematch of last year’s Midwest Division Semi-Finals as the Chill travel to the Wilderness for a lone game on Friday. The Wilderness are 3-0-2 in their last five games. The two teams have played only once so far this year, which the Wilderness won 1-0 back on October 25th in Coulee Region. The Chill have won just once in their last six outings.
Topeka @ Odessa – The RoadRunners are one of the hottest teams in the NAHL, riding a 7-game winning streak. However, it is the Jackalopes who have the series edge right now at 2-0, as they swept the RoadRunners in Odessa back on October 9-10 by identical 4-2 scores. Odessa has fallen on hard times, dropping six of their last even games, including the last four in a row. They are holding down the 4th and final playoff spot in the South, four points ahead of Corpus Christi.
Amarillo @ Corpus Christi – Two teams that desperately need points to get back in the playoff race meet in Corpus Christi this weekend as the Bulls pay a visit. The IceRays are coming off their second sweep of the season last weekend in Odessa. Bulls goalie Anton Martinsson has been incredible lately as he is by far the league leader in shots faced and saves, yet ranks 5th in save percentage at 92.8%.
Wichita Falls @ Lone Star – There appears to be no slowing down the NAHL’s current top team, the Wichita Falls Wildcats. The Wildcats have won their last seven straight games and have a league best 21 wins and 44 points. However, they are just 2-2 against the Brahmas, but have won the last two meetings, the most recent of which was on December 3rd by a 4-1 score. The Brahmas have dropped three of their last five games.
Kenai River @ New Jersey – The Brown Bears travel four times zones to take on the Titans, as Kenai River looks to snap their 23-game losing streak. This is the first of four meetings between the teams. New Jersey will make a trip to Kenai River on March 18-19. The Titans 1st place lead has dwindled down to four points as they have won three of their last eight games.
Fairbanks @ Wilkes-Barre/Scranton – Winners of their last four in a row, the Fairbanks Ice Dogs travel East to face the Knights. The Knights have gone the last three weekends with losing a game and winning a game. Forward Carson Knop has five points in his last five games, while Fairbanks goalie Gavin Nieto is 4-0 in that same time span with a 1.25 GAA and a 94.3% save percentage.