The New Jersey Wildcats will host the Miners and the Mariners this weekend, and both teams from Maine will hit the road, with the Moose squaring off against the AHI Fighting Spirit and the Wild against the Cape Cod Islanders.
On Friday, the Wilkes-Barre Miners will travel to the Jersey Shore to take on the Wildcats. The two teams have met twice before and both have resulted in wins for the Miners, 5-2 and 3-0. Miners General Manager Ray Welsh said the team is coming off a 3-1 loss in a mid-week non-league game against Wyoming Semenary, and Friday's game will be a challenge.
"The last several weeks of travelling more than 5,000 miles has started to take its toll," said Welsh. "Everyone is exhausted, both mentally and physically. A short road trip to the Jersey Shore on Friday, we know the Wildcats will be prepared to come on strong, hopefully we can regroup on the bench and ice and pull off a win."
Welsh, along with Miners coach Jason MacDonald, agreed discipline will be key for their team.
"We look to continue our success on the road, playing with our high energy style, looking to get in the forecheck and cause some turnovers," said MacDonald. "Discipline is always a concern for us but we have seen much improvement in that area. Controlling our emotions is a must."
The Wildcats will also host the Junior Mariners on Saturday and Sunday.
On Saturday, the seventh-place New England Stars will travel to Syracuse for two games against the Stampede, who currently third in the NSHL standings. The teams last met at the Waterville Valley Showcase last month, which resulted in a 4-2 win for the Stampede.
"Coming off a solid road weekend, we are looking to keep things rolling at home this weekend against a dangerous New England Stars team," said Stampede Associate Head Coach James Muscatello. "We have worked a lot this week on transition and keeping things simple,which we will look to take with us into this weekend's match-up."
New England Stars Head Coach Darryl Green is looking for his team to play a full 60 minutes of hockey this weekend.
"We are up against a Syracuse team that has just one loss in regulation," said Green. "We have been paying attention to all the small details in order to get ready for this weekend. Our goal is to have a consistent weekend, regardless of the outcome."
The Maine Wild will travel to Cape Cod for a two-game series against the Islanders. The teams have not met yet this season.
Wild Head Coach Mike Tenney said although the teams have not met, his players paid close attention while watching them at the Waterville Valley showcase last month, and will also prepare by watching their game film.
"We saw them play the Fighting Spirit and they played them hard, but we also played them hard, so it will be a good match-up but also there's unfamiliarity," said Tenney. "They are ahead of us in the standings by one point so it will be a big weekend. We'd like to take four points but at least get a split. They're a good team, and they're in fourth place, which is where we want to be when the weekend's over."
The Islanders dropped two games to the Wilkes-Barre Miners in their barn last weekend - so Tenney expects a hungry team this weekend. Since the Islanders have a number of European players, Tenney also said he expects a game that is more about finesse as opposed to physicality.
"That's okay because we like to play that style a little bit too. Practice has been good, everyone has been working hard," Tenney said. "I am looking forward to seeing our improvements. I was not happy the Stars out-shot us last weekend. Almost 40 shots in a game is too many for us to give up. We'll look to clog shooting lanes, block shots, and hopefully those blocked shots take us to transition and take us into the offensive zone."
The Maine Moose will travel to Waterville Valley for a two-game series against the AHI Fighting Spirit. The two teams have not yet met this season.
"They are a high-tempo, in-your-face team that plays every shift like it's their last," said Moose Head Coach Jeff Guay. "The Moose need to improve on staying out of the penalty box and improve their team game with and without the puck."
The team, which has been plagued by injuries lately, has just received more bad news: assistant Captain Josh Burger has been sent home to recover from an injury that happened earlier this year. It will be a big loss for the team, said Guay.
"He is a really skilled offensive talent from Texas, it is sad to see him go," he said. "We hope he has a healthy recovery."
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