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Daily Dish: NAHL Rankings January 28th - Junior Hockey News

Published: Monday, 28 Jan 2013
By: Stephen Heisler  |  Web site: JuniorHockey.com

Teams are starting to gear up for North American Hockey League's Robertson Cup play-offs despite the fact that the league has yet to announce the format or location for the league's grand finale. Oh well, Commissioner Mark Frankenfeld has other more important items on his agenda.                                                 

#1 Amarillo Bulls (29-5-6 Last Week #1) - After another split with Topeka, the Bulls have allowed Tony Curtale to take the division lead (those extra 3-games came in handy). Amarillo certainly could have used some production from leading scorer TJ Sarcona (13g 32a) over the weekend. The New Yorker was -1 with 12 PIMs, and a single shot in two games. The Bulls host Curtale and his crew this weekend.

#2 Texas Tornado (32-10-1 Last Week #2) - Tony's Tornado have over-taken the little brother in Amarillo for the south division lead. Texas has now won ten in a row after getting the sweep at Wichita Falls. Curtale's first-class operation takes a detour this weekend when his group is forced sleep at the Fifth Seasons in Amarillo. Defenseman Michael Hoy (5g, 13a) has had a decent season (+16) in his second year with Curtale.

#3 Austin Bruins (31-6-5 Last Week #4) - Bruins' netminder Jason Pawloski (12-0-1, 2.38 GAA, .919 SV%) is on fire after stonewalling Minot with back-to-back shutouts this past weekend. The young seventeen year-old stopped 58 shots over the two games. Aside from that one indiscretion last week with Coulee Region (7-1 beat-down), the Bruins have been burning as well, going 7-1 in their last eight games.

#4 Wenatchee Wild (28-7-4 Last Week #3) - The Wild picked up another four-points over the weekend with two wins over Kenai River. Boss Bliss Littler, and his assistant Chris Clark, might be in a bit of hot-water with the league when a third-period melee resulted in a barrage of penalties. The Wild host Fairbanks this weekend, their biggest division rival, and can't afford a lengthy suspension. In his last year of junior hockey, Dallas native Robert Nichols (23-6-3, 1.96 GAA, .915 SV%) is carrying the bulk of the load this season for the Wild, appearing in 31 of Wenatchee's 39 games. Nothing would make the University of Connecticut prospect happier than to raise the Robertson Cup in front of his friends and family back in Texas... er, that is not official yet, right Mr. Frankenfeld?

#5 Fairbanks Ice Dogs (29-11-1 Last Week #8) - Don't look now, but the Ice Dogs are doing their annual January play-off dance and have won seven of their last eight games after getting the three win sweep at Fresno. Next up is the trip to Wenatchee where the Wild might be a bit short-handed.

#6 Soo Eagles (27-10-4 Last Week #6) - The Eagles picked up three-points in the weekend split with Johnstown to stay atop the division. Bruno Bragagnolo's birds close the season series with the Tomahawks Saturday in Johnstown but first will have to deal with a pair games at Jamestown on Thursday and Friday. Soo goaltending has been fantastic this season with the tandem of Zach Naglevoort (9-5-1, 2.37 GAA, .927 SV%) and Tyler Marble (18-5-3, 2.27 GAA, .941 SV%).

#7 Topeka RoadRunners (25-11-5 Last Week #7) - The RoadRunners are content with the home split with top-ranked Amarillo and host the IceRays this weekend. Good things happen when Topeka defenseman Michal Pastor (6g, 18a) is on the ice. The Slovakian is a team-leading +23 in 40 games for the RoadRunners this season.

#8 Jamestown Ironmen (27-11-3 Last Week #5) - The Ironmen split at Springfield allowed Kalamazoo to join the Soo Eagles at the top of the division standings. That's especially interesting considering that the Eagles are back in Jamestown this week. Ryan Doucet (11g, 18a) scored three of the six Jamestown goals at Springfield.

#9 Kalamazoo K-Wings (27-13-4 Last Week #9) - The K-Wings are now 7-0-1 in their last eight games after the weekend sweep at Janesville. The sweep of the Jets propelled Kalmazoo into a first-place tie with the Soo Eagles at the top of the division standings. Forest Lake, Minnesota native Lucas Kohls (11g, 16a) has performed well in his first six-games with the K-Wings, contributing 3-points (1g, 2a) to the sweep.

#10 Bismarck Bobcats (24-14-3 Last Week #10) - Bismarck's sweep of Aberdeen gives the Bobcats a slim 3-point lead over Brookings for the second place in the central division. Bismarck has a home-and-home series with Minot this weekend. Aaron Nelson is having a good season between the pipes for the Bobcats, going 16-6-6 with a 1.74 goals against average and .938 SV%.

#11 Johnstown Tomahawks (20-14-9 Last Week #11) - The Tomahawks' had lost five straight road games before Saturday's shoot-out win in Sault Ste. Marie. Johnstown needs to clamp down and sweep visiting Port Huron this week before Saturday's big one against the Eagles. Defenseman Mitch Hall (2g, 3a, +8) scored his first goal as a Tomahawk late in the 2nd period on Saturday. The birthday boy (Hall turns 20 today) started out the season with Jamestown.

#12 Brookings Blizzard (23-15-2 Last Week #12) - The Blizzard have now won four in a row after getting the sweep at Coulee Region. Brookings has a home-and-home set with division leading Austin this weekend. Nikita Sokolov (2g, 1a) has been a disappointment for the Blizzard. The '94 forward from St. Petersburg, Russia is pointless in his last six games.

#13 Minot Minotauros (21-18-3 Last Week #13) - The Minotauros were shut-out twice while being swept under the rug by Austin. This weekend's home-and-home battle with Bismarck could easily be a play-off preview. The Minotauros have already tripled their win-total from last year and are all but a lock to make the play-offs. They will need to move up a place in the standings to avoid a first-round run into Austin. Forward Jake O'Borsky (10g, 19a) was scoreless when he played the first six games of the season for Wenatchee but has been the go-to guy for Minot.

#14 Kenai River Brown Bears (16-19-6 Last Week #18) - The Brown Bears are starving for some kind of edge and they might have found something after picking up four-points from the three-game series at Wenatchee. The Brown Bears will try and channel that success this week at Fresno. After this weekend, 12 of their last 16 games are at home. That's the good news. The bad news is that 10 of those 16 games are against Fairbanks. Pittsburgh native Vincent Stefan (4g, 12a) has doubled his point-total from last season. The defenseman also has a stellar plus/minus rating of +7 after playing in 47 games last year at even.

#15 Springfield Blues (19-22-3 Last Week #14) - The Blues were simply out-played by Jamestown on Friday night, losing a 4-1 to a team they should have beat. On Saturday, Springfield proved that point by out-working the blue-collared Ironmen to get the win. Moe Mantha brings his Warriors back to Springfield this weekend and I have just one question. Which Blues' team is going to show up? Nineteen year-old Brett Skibba (21g, 21a) was pointless (and -3) in Friday's night loss but in on all three Blue goals on Saturday (2g, 1a).

#16 Corpus Christi IceRays (17-19-6 Last Week #15) - Corpus Christi salvaged a split in Odessa after losing to the hapless Jackalopes on Friday. The IceRays travel to Topeka this weekend for what promises to be an epic battle with one of the division's big three. Rudy Sulmonte (19g, 22a) and Perry DArrisso (17g, 23a) lead the team in scoring while Charles "Chucky Slick" Baldwin (6g, 7a) keeps the team loose. Wichita Falls has played two less games than the IceRays and is only seven-points back in the race for the fourth play-off spot.  The Wildcats can really close that gap with their 3-game series at Odessa this week. Needless to say, Corpus Christi needs to stop messing around and win the games they are supposed to... or find themselves on the outside looking in when the play-offs begin.

#17 Port Huron Fighting Falcons (19-21-3 Last Week #16) - The Fighting Falcons are one of four teams that are still in a battle for the fifth and sixth north division play-off spots. Nine of their remaining seventeen games are against these same teams. It's crunch-time for Port Huron and Michael Gershon's boys need to step up their game. The team lives and dies with the goaltending play of Max Milosek (14-14-2, 2.77 GAA, .914 SV%). The veteran's numbers were just slightly better last season but I feel that the Lapeer, Michigan native is going to have a strong finish.

#18 Janesville Jets (16-19-8 Last Week #17) - Yes, the Jets are still in the play-off picture going into the last seventeen games of the season. Winners of just a single game in their last eight, the Jets are in a bit of a nose-dive. Can bench boss Joe Dibble pull Janesville out of the wash? Janesville has this weekend off before hosting Johnstown February 8-9.

#19 Michigan Warriors (14-21-5 Last Week #19) - The Warriors have picked up thirteen points in the last ten games but will have to hit the gas a little harder if they want to seriously contend for a play-off spot. A sweep this weekend at Springfield would be a great start. New Michigan forward, and another Pittsburgh native, Heinz Koster (7g, 5a) lit the lamp in his first Warriors game after moving over from Aberdeen.

#20 Wichita Falls Wildcats (15-22-3 Last Week #21) - Paul Baxter's Wildcats completed the season series with Curtale's Tornado in Saturday night's shoot-out loss. Only ten of Wichita Falls' final twenty games are against the division's other big dogs, Amarillo and Topeka. The Wildcats are just seven points behind Corpus Christi with two less games played. This weekend's three-game dance at Odessa provides an excellent opportunity to close that gap. Rookie defenseman Marshall Tema (1g, 1a) has struggled to find a grove so far this season, he has a plus/minus rating of -15 in just 20 games played. Baxter must have faith that the St. Louis Park High School blueliner will be able to capitalize on this years' experience.

#21 Fresno Monsters (12-21-5 Last Week #20) -  The Monsters was swept out of their own buildings by the Fairbanks Ice Dogs this week, something that must not be going down well for Fresno's Eric Ballard and his staff. Kenai River is making the trip down to California this week after getting four-points up in Wenatchee.

#22 Coulee Region Chill (11-25-5 Last Week #22) - It is going to be all but impossible for the Chill to catch Minot to earn the division's final play-off spot. So, with that in mind, what course of action should coach AJ Degenhardt take? I'd be rolling all the 92's out for 94's and 95's to begin building the team for next-year. That means players like Garrett Hendrickson (7g, 15a), Cory Lushanko (7g, 11a), Matt Williams (8g, 9a) and defenseman Brady Riesgraf (0g, 10a) could all be trade bait.

#23 Aberdeen Wings (8-26-6 Last Week #23) - Losers of eighteen straight, the Wings new bench boss, Travis Winter, has to be looking for players that can turn this team around for 2013-2014. Forward Justin Parizek (12g, 21a) needs to be traded to a team that can utilize his abilities and is willing to give up a younger prospect.

#24 Odessa Jackalopes (6-32-2 Last Week #24) - The IceRays became a footnote Friday night when they allowed Lawrence Cornellier (23g, 23a) to singlehandedly end Odessa's nightmare eleven-game losing streak with a big four-point night (2g, 2a). Now that Cornellier's stock has risen, maybe Jackalopes boss Paul Gillis should do the right thing and move the Illinois native to a contending team.

JuniorHockey.com is the premier website dedicated to delivering the latest news and developing stories from junior hockey across North America, as well as providing online tools for junior hockey players and prospects. With over 225,000 views each month Juniorhockey.com is the internet's leading source of junior hockey news and information. 

Stephen Heisler resides in Puerto Penasco, Mexico with his wife, Maria, and their two children, Sonia and Tomas. Tune in to his Mexico based Classic Rock Station, GoPenasco Radio.


posted Jan. 28th, 2013 - 12:05am
Andrew Hochstein says:
Video of Wenatchee coach acting a fool....yupp Amarillo's the only "class-less" team in the league..


posted Jan. 28th, 2013 - 12:25am
Stephen Heisler says:
I think that was great... Wenatchee is going to be getting hammered by the NAHL refs for the rest of the season. Oh well.

posted Jan. 28th, 2013 - 8:11am
Andrew Hochstein says:
No doubt it was funny as hell....but if that was an Amarillo coach you'd be ripping them apart right now..

posted Jan. 28th, 2013 - 8:19am
Stephen Heisler says:
If it was Amarillo, I'd still be laughing. I do have a picture in hand of an Amarillo player leaving the ice and showing how much he respects the league, media, and even himself.

posted Jan. 28th, 2013 - 8:25am
Randy Russon says:

In actuality, Marble's record is 18-5-3 and Nagelvoort's record is 9-5-1.

posted Jan. 28th, 2013 - 8:36am
Andrew Hochstein says:
Yes it's Mullan's picture flipping off the camera while he's leaving the ice after he took a high stick to the face....I know it's not a "classy" picture but have you ever personally seen an Amarillo/Topeka game in person? It's beyond intense..I thought the old Amarillo/Lubbock rivalry was bad but it's got nothing on this. I would invite you to Amarillo to watch the last 2 games of the regular season against Topeka on March 8th and 9th but I know you won't leave that beach in Mexico....I'll even pay for your room for the weekend at the 5th seasons ;)

posted Jan. 28th, 2013 - 8:46am
Andrew Hochstein says:
And Stephen don't forget that Poulsen got ejected outta Saturday's game for an "obscene gesture"..I personally didn't see it but obviously the refs and/or linesman had to see something. (Not trying to bash your son Christian). But of course Mullan's is worse cause they caught a picture of it?? Oh yeah that's right it is worse cause of that "Amarillo Bulls" logo on the front right?

posted Jan. 28th, 2013 - 9:33am
Christian Poulsen says:
"Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap"...AC DC

posted Jan. 28th, 2013 - 10:12am
Martin Breen says:

Coach Littler is a total class act. You don't win 600 junior games without knowing what you're doing and loving the game. Sometimes the grind and pressure of hockey can get the best of you and this assistant coach acted out in funny manner. No one was hurt and it got picked up by CBS College Hockey News so the NAHL got some well deserved press. To me, not a big deal and way different than a player flipping the bird to fans or a camera. Many D1 coaches would never give a player like this a scholarship. Character counts in college hockey, after all you are representing the school and team, not yourself.

posted Jan. 28th, 2013 - 10:43am
Christian Poulsen says:
"Kiss Me Deadly" ("It ain't no big thing")...Lita Ford

posted Jan. 28th, 2013 - 11:02am
Stephen Heisler says:
Randy Russon writes:

In actuality, Marble's record is 18-5-3 and Nagelvoort's record is 9-5-1.

That's what I get for trying to work from the beach...the glare from the sun, and maybe the beer, might have impaired my vision.

posted Jan. 28th, 2013 - 11:46am
Christian Poulsen says:
"All Right Now"...Free

posted Jan. 28th, 2013 - 12:01pm
Stephen Heisler says:
Unknown fan:
The problem with the officiating was for the first 2 games of the weekend the officials missed so many blatant call right in front of them, it was both teams, not just a one sided affair, then you get to Saturday & both teams were out of control with dirty plays, then like a switch they start calling everything they see. I donít usually donít say anything about bad officiating because both teams have to play with it but Saturdayís game was a complete joke!

posted Jan. 28th, 2013 - 12:26pm
Christian Poulsen says:
"Doctor My Eyes"...Jackson Browne

posted Jan. 28th, 2013 - 2:22pm
Jon Hart says:
Andrew, maybe one day it will hit you but today isn't that day. When your named organization of the year you don't do what the Bulls have done. Bulls fans tend to assume if your on the top of the mountain everyone has give them respect. Only problem is respect needs to be earned not given. The organizations arrogance from top to bottom is what holding them back. To me the Bulls are the NAHL version of the New York Jets, you got the arrogant obnoxious coach (hopefully, Williams doesn't have a tattoo of his wife in a Sarcona jersey on his arm though.) You both have been to the final 4 in the current regimes first 2 years. And like Fireman Ed, whats left of the Gorilla fans they don't want to be seen at future Bulls games. What you do in the regular season isn't what earns you respect. It's what you do in the playoffs and off the ice that gets you the respect you want. Until both those things happen you guys will be under the microscope of everyone trying to "pick" on the Bulls.

Now as far as Wenatchee goes nothing much will probably happen a few games suspension and then next year the Wild will be in a different league. Also, I'm just curious Stephen what's the Wild's host hotel look like btw?

posted Jan. 28th, 2013 - 3:03pm
robert hutch says:
I remember Terry Ruzkowski doing the same thing after putting a towel on a stick and waving it ala white flag of surrender.This is funny.The Bulls may be arrogant and not do some things the"right" way.But I love watching the Bulls, Topeka and Texas play.They play big boy hockey which to me is more fun than "nice" hockey.And nice hockey teams hate playing big boy teams.When two big boy teams play each other it is a fans dream.Calling Amarillo on the roach hotel is the right thing to do.Complaining about the way Williams',Langer's and Curtale's teams play is more like whining to me.I would love to have a team like those in Corpus.

posted Jan. 28th, 2013 - 3:15pm
Stephen Heisler says:
Jon Hart writes:
Also, I'm just curious Stephen what's the Wild's host hotel look like btw?


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