NAHL Weekend Preview
February 19, 2016
The NAHL Top Prospects Tournament has come and gone and now it is about a 13-19 game sprint to the finish for NAHL clubs.
This weekend features nothing but exciting divisional rivalries on the slate and teams should start clinching playoff berths at any moment. In the Central and East Divisions, things could not be tighter at the top and the Central and South have incredible playoff races going on right now for the 4th and final playoff spots.
Austin @ Aberdeen – The Wings are one of those teams that needs wins and needs them now. They are three points out of the 4th and final playoff spot in the Central thanks to only one regulation loss in their last four games. The Bruins are solidly in 3rd place, but would like to make a move. The Bruins have dominated the season series against the Wings, winning all six games to date, but haven’t played in Aberdeen since late October.
Bismarck @ MN Magicians – Like the Wings, the Magicians are on the outside looking in the Central Division playoff picture, sitting three points back of the final spot. Meanwhile, the Bobcats are locked in a struggle and tie with Minot for the top spot in the division. The Bobcats have won 8 of their last 10, but have dropped two of their last three. Surprisingly, the two teams have only played twice this season with the team’s splitting a series in Bismarck back on October 23-24.
Brookings @ Minot – In what has the potential to be a 1st round playoff match-up, Brookings is in Minot for a pair of games. Thanks to a 7-0-2 run in their last nine games, the Minotauros have moved into a tie for 1st place in the Central with Bismarck. The goaltenders have led the charge, allowing just eight goals in their last five games. While each team has won two games in the four games to date, the two clubs haven’t faced one another since October 9-10.
Johnstown @ Wilkes-Barre/Scranton – The Tomahawks find themselves just three points out of the 1st place with 14 games to play and have won six of their last nine games. In the nine games against the Knights to date, the Tomahawks have won six of them, which included a 4-3 overtime win back on February 5th. The Knights have hit the skids lately, dropping their last five straight games. Johnstown forward Andrew Romano has five points in his last five games.
Aston vs. New Jersey (home-and-home) – With 16 games remaining for each club, the Titans hold a slim one point lead atop the division over the 2nd place Rebels. However, the series has been mostly in favor of Aston this season as they have won six of the eight games played to date between the two teams. It has been defense and goaltending that have gotten it done for the Rebels recently against New Jersey, as Aston has allowed just one goal in the last three games against the Titans.
MN Wilderness @ Coulee Region – The Wilderness are coming off a 4-0 shutout of the Chill on Thursday night as goalie Luke Kania made a season-high 43 saves. While the Wilderness are 10 points back of 1st place Fairbanks, it is a pretty good bet that with 14 games to go they should finish in one of the top two spots in the division. The Wilderness have won all four games to date against the Chill. Coulee Region has dropped two of their last three and have fallen back to .500 and are now nine points back of a playoff spot.
Janesville @ Fairbanks – Both the Jets and the Ice Dogs come in playing very good hockey lately. The Jets are 4-1-1 in their last six games, while the Ice Dogs have won six of their last seven. The Ice Dogs snapped a five-game skid against the Jets two weeks ago with a win on February 6th, but other than that, it has been all Jets in the season series as they own a 5-1 record against Fairbanks this season. Fairbanks forward Todd Burgess has eight points in his last five games, while Jets forward Taylor Fernandez has nine points in his last five games.
Springfield @ Kenai River – The Jr. Blues are right behind the Jets for 3rd place in the Midwest and nine points clear of Coulee Region for the 4th and final playoff spot. Meanwhile, the Brown Bears are out of the playoff race and are on an eight-game losing streak. However, one of Kenai River’s three wins this season came back on January 22nd when they beat the Jr. Blues in Kenai River. The Jr. Blues still hold a 3-1 edge in the series and are 3-1-1 in their last five games.
Corpus Christi @ Amarillo – The Bulls will try and play the role of spoiler this weekend as they host the IceRays. With 16 games remaining, Corpus Christi holds a slim one point lead in the South for the 4th and final playoff spot over Odessa, however, the Jackalopes do have two games in hand. The IceRays have won just one game in their last six outings and have five wins in 10 games against the Bulls this season. While not mathematically out of the playoff race, the Bulls are next to last in wins (10) and trail the IceRays by 17 points for the final playoff position.
Odessa @ Lone Star – With Wichita Falls off, this weekend offers the 2nd place Brahmas a great chance to try and gain ground on 1st place. Meanwhile, Odessa is one of the hottest teams in the NAHL, winners of seven of their last nine games, which has moved them to within one point of the 4th and final playoff spot in the South with two games in hand. The Jackalopes have only won two of six games against the Brahmas this season, but those two wins came during the last series between the two clubs on January 29-30.