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NPHL Weekend Preview: February 26th – February 28th Junior Hockey News

Published: Wednesday, 24 Feb 2016  
By: Garrett J Fabris

Eugene, OR – The Eugene Generals (21-13-1-1, 44 points) and Wenatchee Wolves (34-1-0-0, 68 points) will play two of the teams’ remaining four games against one another this weekend. Coming into this series, the Generals were swept by the Tri-City Outlaws last weekend, while the Wolves were able to beat the Seattle Ravens and Bellingham Blazers, both of which were a one-game series.

The Generals have found the most success against the Wolves early in the game. With the team’s seven goals scored against the Wolves, all of those goals came in either the first or second period. But when the third period comes around, the Generals have not been able to find the back of the net against the Wolves.

In addition to the lack of scoring in the final period, the Generals prolific special teams unit has been hushed by the Wolves. In 11 power play opportunities, the Generals haven’t been able to convert any of those to goals. Right now, the Generals sit in second place in the league for the best power play percentage, and power play goals scored.

Justin Kern, the Generals’ head coach, discussed what his team needs to do this weekend to be successful. Kern said “it’s going to take a lot of hard work in practice this week as we try to get back to the level of play that we know we can play at. During the last couple of weekends, we haven’t had the best performance. So, we are hoping to get back to that level of play before the playoffs start.”

Contrary to the Generals, the Wolves have found a bulk of their success in the final 20 minutes of the game. The Wolves have scored nine of their 14 total goals against the Generals in the final period of play. These late game goals have pushed the Wolves to three wins over the Generals. The only time the team did not score in the third period, the Wolves suffered their first, and only, loss of the season.

For the Wolves, Max Flynn and Will Connors have shined against the Generals. Connors has recorded five points in four games, which is a team high while playing the Generals. Then Flynn, one of the team’s goalies, has seen the most action against the Generals with three games under his belt. During these three games, Flynn has allowed only six goals on 71 shots faced.

Ryan McKelvie, the Wolves’ head coach, commented on what his team needs to do to come away victorious this weekend. McKelvie said, “we want to make sure that our work ethic and intensity are high for the entire 60 minutes of both games. We’ve had some really good games with Eugene, so we want to generate a lot of shots and make it difficult for their goalie by getting to the front of the net and going to the hard areas.”

This two-game series will start on Friday, February 26th, and conclude on Saturday, February 27th. Both of these games will be held at the Rink Exchange in Eugene, Oregon, with a start time of 7:35 pm (PST).

Kennewick, WA – The Seattle Ravens (6-27-1-1, 14 points) will play the Tri-City Outlaws (12-23-1-0, 25 points) this weekend. After a three-game weekend, the Ravens are buckling down for another three-game weekend in as just as many days.

Against the Outlaws, the Ravens have found the most success when Logan Koski and Ben Lehfeldt-Ehlinger are on top of their game. This forward and defenseman duo are tied for a team high in points against the Outlaws. Both players have recorded five points against their opponent, four of which are goals while the other six are assists.

As a team, the Ravens have started off hot in the first period. They’ve scored 10 of the team’s 15 total goals against the Outlaws in the first period alone. When the Ravens score first, the team has won five of their six total games on the season. So starting off on the right foot will be crucial for this team.

Adam Speer, the Ravens’ general manager, commented on what the team will need to do this weekend to secure a victory. He said, “the Ravens will continue to work on playing aggressive, puck-pursuit hockey. Players and staff alike recognize we are establishing a style of play that will carry forward long into the future under coach Kurtenbach. We had our highest shot total in a game this year on Saturday, which is a clue about things to come. Our other challenge right now is having lost five players to injury. That makes it tough.”

When the Ravens score first, the team has won a bulk of their games, but the same can be said for the Outlaws. When the Outlaws score first, the team is 8-2-0-0; and on top of that, when the Outlaws lead after the first period, the team is undefeated with a record of 7-0-0-0.

Building and maintaining a lead will be one of the primary focuses for this team, since the Outlaws have lost 17 games when trailing after first period, and 22 games when trailing after the second period.

For the Outlaws, the team’s statistics show that they heat up as the game goes on against the Ravens. Of the team’s 12 goals against the Ravens this season, three have come in the first period, while four in the second, and five in third.

Geno McCue, the Outlaws’ head coach, explained what his team needs to do to come out successful this weekend. McCue said, “going into this weekend, we need to build on our success. We have to continue to play well at the second level and communicate in all three zones. Travis Questad does an amazing job of covering ice and eliminating odd man rushes. His play is not something most people would watch for, but he is – in my opinion – one of the better pure defensemen in the league.”

These teams will play a two-game, home-and-home, series that starts on Friday, February 26th, and concludes on Saturday, February 27th.The first game will be held at the Toyota Arena in Kennewick, Washington, while the second game will be held at the Kent Valley Ice Centre in Kent, Washington. The first game will start at 7:05 pm (PST) then the second game will start at 6:35 pm (PST).

Bellingham, WA – After escaping the NPHL’s cellar last weekend, the West Sound Warriors (8-27-1-1, 18 points) will take on the Bellingham Blazers (27-9-1-0, 55 points) this weekend. This will be two of the teams’ final three matchups of the regular season.

The Warriors will hit the ice this weekend in search of the team’s first victory over the Blazers. Last weekend, the Warriors were able to sweep the Seattle Ravens, which puts them on a bit of a hot streak heading into this series against the Blazers.

While battling with the Blazers, the Warriors’ top performers are Caleb Bromley and Brett Hawkins. These two players have accounted for seven of the team’s 14 total points against the Blazers. Bromley and Hawkins are also the only players on the Warriors’ team that have scored multiple goals against the Blazers.

The Warriors are on the outside looking in for the playoffs, but the Blazers have locked up the second seed in the league. The team will play the Eugene Generals in the first round of the playoffs. With a 5 – 0 record against the Warriors, the biggest attribute for the team’s success is consistency with scoring.

During the first two periods, the Blazers have scored 14 goals each period while finishing with 16 goals in the final period against the Warriors. In fact, the league’s leading scorer – Karson DeRego – has recorded about one-third of his total points this season while playing against the Warriors.

This home-and-home, two-game, series will start on Friday, February 26th, and end on Saturday, February 27th. The first game will take place at the Bellingham Sportsplex in Bellingham, Washington. Then both teams will travel to the Bremerton Ice Center in Bremerton, Washington, to conclude this series. Both games will start at 7:35 pm (PST).

Wenatchee, WA – Both the Wenatchee Wolves (34-1-0-0, 68 points) and Seattle Ravens (6-27-1-1, 14 points) will play three games in three days this weekend. These teams are also ending the weekend the same way for two weeks in a row now, which is with a game against one another in Wenatchee, Washington.

During last week’s series, the Ravens were able to hold strong against the Wolves during the first two periods. Despite being held scoreless, the Ravens were able to keep the league’s most prolific offense at bay, while allowing only three goals. But in the third period, the Wolves exploded out of the gate, which led to the team scoring six straight goals. These goals pushed the Wolves to a 9 – 0 victory.

The Ravens have found the most success against the Wolves when the special teams unit is on the ice. Two of the team’s three goals against the Wolves this season have either come while on the power play or the penalty kill.

Whereas the Wolves have found the most success against the Ravens during the third period. In these teams’ previous seven games this season, the Wolves have racked up 18 total goals in the final period alone. These late goals have helped the Wolves capture seven straight victories over the Ravens.

But like last weekend, fatigue will play a huge factor in this series as both teams travel multiple times during the weekend. Keeping players fresh and ready for this series will be on both coaches’ minds and game plans.

This one-game series will be held at the Town Toyota Center in Wenatchee, Washington. Game time is scheduled for 7:35 pm (PST).

Tune in to the NPHL’s website after the conclusion of the final game each night for a full recap.

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