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NAHL Weekend Preview

April 1, 2016
Just two weekends remain in the 2015-16 NAHL regular season with several teams finishing out their seasons this weekend as the calendar turns to April.
This weekend will have an impact on many of the playoff races, both for the division titles and the final playoff spot and standings. Games this weekend are just on Friday and Saturday with no games on Sunday.
Last night, Fairbanks locked up the NAHL’s regular season title with an overtime win over Kenai River. 
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Central Division
MN Magicians @ Bismarck – It doesn’t get much bigger for both the Magicians and Bismarck, who could very well potentially meet one another in the first round of the playoffs. Bismarck has a one-point lead over Minot for 1st place in the division with four games to go. Conversely, the Magicians are in the driver’s seat for the 4th and final spot with 53 points, which is tied with Aberdeen, but the Magicians have two more wins. Bismarck has a 3-1 edge in the season series against the Magicians and the two teams will square off again in Minnesota next weekend.
Aberdeen vs. Brookings (home and home) – It is do or die time for both Aberdeen and Brookings. The Blizzard have to win and hope that the Magicians lose a couple of games in Bismarck because the Blizzard are three points back of both the Magicians and the Wings in the standings for the 4th and final playoff spot with four games remaining. Aberdeen is tied in points with the Magicians, but the wins column is not their friend as they have two less wins that Minnesota and one less win than Brookings. Aberdeen has won six of the 10 meetings this season.
Austin @ Minot – Although they haven’t clinched a playoff spot just yet, the Bruins are likely going to finish in the #3 slot, barring a major collapse. Minot is a point behind Bismarck for 1st place in the division, but the Minotauros also have one less win than Bismarck. Each team has won three games to date in the season series. Minot has won six of their last seven games.
East Division
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton @ Johnstown – The Knights, who will finish 4th and the Tomahawks, who will finish 3rd, finish up their regular seasons this weekend against one another. With nothing to play for in the standings, pride will be on the line, as well as, making sure no one gets injured for the playoffs. Johnstown has dominated the season series, winning 10 of the 14 games.
New Jersey vs. Aston (home and home) – It is all on the line this weekend for both Aston and New Jersey as the East Division title is at stake. The Rebels are in the driver’s seat, needing just a single win to claim the East crown. With Friday night’s game at home, the Rebels can win the title on home ice. If New Jersey can somehow win in regulation in Aston on Friday, the two teams would be tied heading into the final game for all the marbles in New Jersey on Saturday.  The Rebels have won nine of the 14 games in the series this season.
Midwest Division
Janesville @ Springfield – The Jets moved into 2nd place in the Midwest Division thanks to their 6-2 win in Springfield on Thursday. Cullen Munson had three points, including two goals in the win and Jack LaFontaine made 45 saves. The Jets know they will be facing the Wilderness in the opening round, but the Jr. Blues are almost in a must-win scenario. Springfield is just one point ahead of Coulee Region for the 4th and final playoff spot, but the Chill have three games in hand. The Jr. Blues have won six of the 10 games in the season series.
Kenai River @ Fairbanks – The Ice Dogs claimed the NAHL’s regular season title with a 3-2 overtime win over the Brown Bears on Thursday night. The Ice Dogs are still chasing NAHL history as two more wins would tie them for the all-time numbers of wins in a season, but would set a new record for points. Fairbanks is 14-0 so far this season against the Brown Bears.
Coulee Region @ MN Wilderness – A lot is on the line for both teams as the Chill travel to Cloquet to take on the Wilderness. For Coulee Region, they are just one point back of the 4th and final playoff spot in the Midwest with five games to play. They also have three games in hand on 4th place Springfield. The Wilderness are in a tie for 2nd place and home ice in the first round of the playoffs with the Janesville Jets. Janesville does have one game in hand. Coulee Region has won five of the nine games in the season series.
South Division
Lone Star @ Odessa – Lone Star has secured home ice in the first round of the playoffs and although not mathematically out of the running for the division title, it is a long shot. The Jackalopes control their own destiny to get into the playoffs. With four games to go, Odessa’s lead on Corpus Christi is two points, but Odessa also has two more wins. The Jacks have won three of their last four games. The Brahmas have won seven of the 10 games in the series.
Wichita Falls @ Corpus Christi – It is do or die time for the IceRays, who trail Odessa by two points and two wins for the 4th and final playoff spot in the South with just four games to go. To make things tougher, the Wildcats enter the series need just a win to secure the South Division title, so they will be motivated as well. The Wildcats have won four in a row and 10 of their last 11 games. They also have won seven of eight games against the IceRays this season.
Amarillo @ Topeka - With Topeka in the playoffs as the #3 seed in the South and Amarillo out of the playoff picture, the series means very little for both teams. Topeka will just be trying to stay healthy because they are likely going to face Lone Star in the opening round of the playoffs. Meanwhile the Bulls are building for next season. Topeka has won all six games in the season series this year.
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