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NPHL Weekend Preview: March 4th – March 6th Junior Hockey News

Published: Wednesday, 2 Mar 2016  
By: Garrett J Fabris

This weekend will conclude the regular season for the Northern Pacific Hockey League. With that being said, here is the seeding for the NPHL’s 2016 playoffs:

1. Wenatchee Wolves (37-1-0-0, 74 points)
2. Bellingham Blazers (29-9-1-0, 59 points)
3. Eugene Generals (21-15-1-1, 44 points)
4. Tri-City Outlaws (14-23-1-0, 29 points)

Kent, WA – The Seattle Ravens (6-30-1-1, 14 points) and Tri-City Outlaws (14-23-1-0, 29 points) are heading into the teams’ final two games of the regular season. As the Outlaws prepare for the post season, the Ravens will wrap up the team’s inaugural season this weekend.

Last weekend, both of these franchises played one another in a home-and-home series. During this two-game series, the Outlaws were able to sweep the Ravens to extend the team’s winning streak to six games. But despite two tough losses, there are some key takeaways for the Ravens moving forward.

During the first game in this series, the Ravens were able to tie the team’s high in goals scored during a game. The previous time the Ravens scored six goals in a single game was back on Saturday, October 24th, 2015. One key player that helped the Ravens tie the team’s season high in goals was Ryan Donlan. He recorded a total of four points, which breaks down to three goals (a season-high for Donlan) and one assist.

As the Ravens conclude the 2015 – 2016 season this weekend, the Outlaws will be buckling down before playoffs start on Friday, March 11th. After a brief year off from the playoffs, the Outlaws are back in the thick of things under the team’s first-year head coach, Geno McCue.

There is no doubt that McCue has the Outlaws playing the team’s best hockey as of last. As previously stated, the Outlaws are currently on the team’s longest winning streak of the season, which sits at six games. During this six-game streak, the Outlaws have beaten teams such as the West Sound Warriors and the Ravens. But the Outlaws have also beaten the NPHL’s third best team, the Eugene Generals.

In order to continue to find success heading into this weekend, McCue shared what his team will need to do. McCue said, “going into this weekend, I’m expecting some great games against Seattle. Adam has his players working hard and improving quickly. Also, Josh Stone had a tremendous game against us on Saturday. In order for us to be successful, we will have to continue to win second level pucks, and our passing has to be crisper. I know the boys are looking forward to the challenge that Seattle will bring to us.”

This two-game series will start on Friday, March 4th, at the Kent Valley Ice Centre in Kent, Washington. Then both of these teams will travel to Kennewick, Washington, for the final game in this series, which will be held at the Toyota Arena. Game time is scheduled for 6:35 pm (PST) and 7:05 pm (PST) respectively.

Wenatchee, WA – After a three game weekend, the Wenatchee Wolves (37-1-0-0, 74 points) will battle the Eugene Generals (21-15-1-1, 44 points) for the the second weekend in a row. This weekend, the Wolves are in the unique position to potentially break the NPHL’s best regular season win percentage. The current team that holds the best regular season win percentage in NPHL history is the Helena Bighorns with a .960 win percentage.

Last weekend, the Wolves traveled down to Eugene, Oregon, and came away with a two-game road series sweep over the Generals. During this series, the Wolves found success early and late in both games.

During the first game, the Wolves were able to pull away from the Generals in the final 20 minutes when Hunter Alden and Coleton Booth scored back-to-back goals. These goals pushed the Wolves to a 3 – 1 victory over the Generals. Then during the second game in this series, the Wolves were able to score three early goals from Griffin Wiencek, Raymond Fleming, and Hayden Givens, which pushed the team to a 6 – 2 victory.

Alden has been a thorn in the Generals’ side since his return to the NPHL. In his three games against Eugene this season, Alden has recorded seven points, which is tied for a team-high while playing against the Generals. But Alden isn’t just finding the back of the net, he is continuously putting his teammates in prime positions to score with six of his seven points coming from assists.

Ryan McKelvie, the Wolves’ head coach, commented on what his team needs to do to come away successful this weekend. McKelvie said, “we know that these games will be very competitive because we’ve had really good games against Eugene this year. We are always focused on getting better than our last performance. We want to make sure we are playing our best hockey at the end of the year. So, with this being the last weekend of the regular season, we want to be peeking and playing our best hockey heading into the playoffs.”

As previously stated, the Generals are the only team in the NPHL who have beaten the Wolves this season. During the Generals’ lone victory over the Wolves, the team was able to stay out of the box, while also protecting the net extremely well.

Christopher Pritchard, who was the Generals’ goalie during the team’s victory over the Wolves back on December 10th, had an outstanding game. He saw 52 shots and saved all but one. On the season, Pritchard has 720 saves and a save percentage of .935. So there is no doubt that he can perform at an extremely high level, day in and day out.

If the Generals want to have a repeat performance of the team’s first victory over the Wolves, the team will need to hold the Wolves to a single goal. When held to a single goal, the Wolves have an overall recorded of 3 – 1. The Generals’ top performers against the Wolves will also play a huge role in the outcome of this series. Christian Dale, Cody Arbelovsky, and Cole Bloemer are all tied for a team-high in points against the Wolves, which is three points.

Justin Kern, the Generals’ head coach, discussed what his team needs to do this weekend in order to come away with the victory. Kern said, “we have one last regular season week of practices, so this is kind of our last chance to hone our game for the little things. We had some good games against Wenatchee last weekend, but we made some mistakes. We’ve proven we can beat them; it just takes a good game while limiting the mistakes.”

Both of these games will be held at the Town Toyota Center in Wenatchee, Washington. The first game in this series, on Saturday – March 5th – will start at 4:35 pm (PST). Then the second game, on Sunday – March 7th – is scheduled to start at 2:35 pm (PST).

Bremerton, WA – The West Sound Warriors (8-29-1-1, 18 points) will host the Bellingham Blazers (29-9-1-0, 59 points) for the teams’ final regular season game of the 2015 – 2016 season. After playing each other twice last weekend, the Blazers were able to come away with the series sweep over the Warriors.

As the Blazers prepare for the team’s final regular season game before the playoffs, the Warriors will conclude the 2015 – 2016 season this Saturday. The Warriors are still searching for the team’s first victory over the Blazers this season. Despite not being able to beat the Blazers yet this season, the Warriors came close last Saturday.

During the teams’ final game last weekend, the Warriors were able to hold the Blazers to only three goals. The Warriors were led by the team’s goaltender, Christopher Sohl. The California native had a career high in saves and a career low in goals allowed for a full 60-minute game.

Other key players for the Warriors while playing the Blazers this season have been Caleb Bromley and Brett Hawkins. These two players lead the Warriors’ team in points scored against the Blazers this season, which currently sits at seven total points.

Matt Ferris, the Warriors’ head coach, commented on what key aspects his team will be focusing on this weekend. Ferris said, “this weekend we are going to focus on keeping our intensity up in this game. A game that has no barring on the outcome of our season. We're not going to make the playoffs, but it is still a good test for the boys to keep the competitive juices flowing, and going hard.”

With the Blazers preparing for the team’s fourth straight post season birth, they will be getting a tad bit more rest than usual, since they are only playing one game this weekend. Last weekend against the Warriors, the Blazers were able to beat the team by a combined score of 15 – 0.

During this series against the Warriors, the Blazers’ goalies were at the top of their game. For the first game, it was Karl Andersson protecting the back of the net. This was Andersson’s first appearance for the Blazers this season. He recorded 19 saves while also capturing his first victory. Then for the second game, Broderick Parker stood tall in net as he recorded his 14th win, and third shutout, of the season.

This one-game series will be held on Saturday, March 5th, at the Bremerton Ice Center in Bremerton, Washington. The puck will drop at 7:35 pm (PST).

After the final game each night, tune in to the NPHL’s website for a full recap.

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