NAHL Weekend Preview
October 25, 2013
It is another exciting weekend of hockey in the NAHL and although it is only late October, teams are starting to arrive at the point of the season where the standings are becoming a big factor. For most clubs, this weekend signifies the quarter-point of the season. Some teams are right where they want to be, while others feel they may have underachieved to date. The good news is, there is a lot of hockey to be played. This also marks the final weekend in October where players are still vying for the NAHL monthly player awards. There have been many fine and consistent performances during the month of October, so fans will see what the last weekend has in store. All 24 teams are in action this weekend.
Minot Minotauros vs. Bismarck Bobcats – An intra-state rivalry is renewed this weekend as Minot and Bismarck take the spotlight in a home-and-home series. Minot needs wins and needs to find a way to get their offense going. The Minotauros are dead last in the NAHL with just 1.58 goals per game. Meanwhile, the Bobcats have one of the hottest goalies going in the league right now in Aaron Nelson, which doesn’t bode well for struggling offenses.
Brookings Blizzard vs. Aberdeen Wings – After Aberdeen dispatched the Blizzard in Brookings on Thursday night by a score of 6-3, the series completes itself on Saturday night as the Blizzard visit Aberdeen. The Wings have won all three match-ups to date with Brookings. Aberdeen is 2nd in the league in goals allowed per game at just 1.92 and Wings defenseman Dillon Eichstadt is tied for 2nd among NAHL defenseman with 13 points so far this season.
Kenai River Brown Bears vs. Wenatchee Wild – In a three game set on Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Wenatchee, the Wild host the Brown Bears this weekend. The Wild have lost their last four games (all on the road), while the Brown Bears come into Wenatchee tied for 1st place in the Midwest Division with a 9-3-0 record and 18 points. The Brown Bears are doing it with a balanced attack as they rank in the Top 10 in the NAHL in both goals scored and goals allowed.
Fairbanks vs. Minnesota Magicians (Saturday) – Saturday will be the first game for the Magician’s since their 5-1 defeat of Coulee Region this past Sunday. The Magicians have won three of their last four games. The Ice Dogs will be coming off of a tough game in Austin on Friday night. Minnesota goalie Atte Tolvanen is 3-1 in his last four games with a 1.73 GAA and a 93.9% save percentage.
Soo Eagles vs. Johnstown Tomahawks – Soo shutout Johnstown on Thursday night, 3-0. Former Tomahawks goaltender Colin Brennan made 19 saves in defeat of his old team. They finished up with two more games on Friday and Saturday in Johnstown during the Tomahawks Pink the Rink weekend. The two teams each have 15 points and are a part of a four-way tie for 2nd place in the North Division, along with Springfield and Michigan.
Michigan Warriors vs. Port Huron Fighting Falcons – On Saturday and Sunday, the I-69 rivalry is renewed as Michigan and Port Huron play a home-and-home series. The Fighting Falcons, who are in 1st place and five points clear of anyone else, are coming off a bye weekend and are well rested. That is troublesome news for a Michigan team who will be tasked of stopping the league’s 3rd best offense. Keep an eye on newly acquired Fighting Falcons forward Matt Seidel, who will boost an already potent Fighting Falcons offense.
Amarillo Bulls vs. Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees – For the first time this season, the defending champion Bulls make the trip South to Hidalgo to take on the Killer Bees. Even though the Bulls have played three fewer games than the Bees, this series has some intrigue because both teams have 19 points and are tied for 3rd in the standings, two points behind 1st place Wichita Falls. Two of the hottest forwards in the league will go against one another as Amarillo’s Matt Sieckhaus and Rio’s Tyler Bruneteau will take to the ice.
Wichita Falls Wildcats vs. Corpus Christi IceRays – This weekend will be a good test for the 1st place Wildcats, who take to the road to face a IceRays team, who returns home for the first time in almost a month. The IceRays will play six of the next eight games at home and it is an important weekend for them. Although it is early in the season, the IceRays have some ground to make up to get in the top 4 for playoff position. While the Wildcats rank in the Top 7 in both offense and defense, the IceRays rank 21 out of 24 in scoring, averaging just 2.21 goals per game.
Odessa Jackalopes vs. Lone Star Brahmas – This early in the season, there may be no such thing as a ‘must-win’ series, but don’t tell that to the Jackalopes or Brahmas, who are both looking for some much needed wins. The Jacks come into the weekend series in North Richland Hills on a nine-game losing streak, while the Brahmas have won two of their last four games. The two teams allow the most shots per game in the league, so there is some potential offense to be had.
Out of Division
Janesville Jets vs. Minnesota Wilderness – As one of the early season success stories in the NAHL, the Minnesota Wilderness will look to continue their hot play as they host the North Division’s Janesville Jets. The Jets have a top 5 offense, which will be going against the #1 defense in the NAHL in the Wilderness. Minnesota is just one point out of 1st place in the Midwest Division and are riding a three-game winning streak. The Jets got cooled off by the Coulee Region Chill, who defeated Janesville 6-3 on Thursday night.
Topeka RoadRunners vs. Springfield Jr. Blues – A resurgent Jr. Blues club, who has won three of their last four games, will host the South Division’s Topeka RoadRunners this weekend. After losing three straight, the 2nd place RoadRunners won three straight on the road last weekend in Odessa. Topeka’s Jake Kamrass has four points in his last five games, while Springfield’s goalie Stefanos Lekkas is 2-0-1 with a 1.58 GAA and a 95.7% save percentage in his last three outings.
Fairbanks Ice Dogs vs. Austin Bruins (Friday) – A battle of top NAHL teams takes place on Friday in Austin as the Ice Dogs take to the road to face the Bruins. The Ice Dogs are coming off a bye week, while the Bruins are coming off a weekend split with Aberdeen. This game features two of the top 4 offenses in the league. The Bruins have the #1 offense in the NAHL, scoring 4.36 goals per game, while Fairbanks ranks 4th at 3.23.
Austin Bruins vs. Coulee Region Chill (Saturday) – The Bruins pack up the bus and make the hour and a half trip East on I-90 to Onalaska, WI to take on the Chill in a Saturday tilt. This game will feature two of the top veteran forwards in the league in Austin’s Jay Dickman and Coulee’s Mac Jansen. Dickman is tied for the NAHL scoring lead with 17 points, while Jansen has 7 goals in his last 7 games including a hat-trick in Thursday’s 6-3 win over Janesville.