You win some and lose some. That’s just the reality of life in the North American Hockey League. There were a lot of broken hearts and hurt feelings after this past week of games. After all that, let’s see how the numbers stack up this week.
Now for the disclosure… the following is my opinion and not written under the influence of anything or anybody.
#1 Austin Bruins (6-1-0-2, .778) – Head Coach Steve Howard’s Bruins leapfrog over Amarillo into the top spot this week after picking up three road points with a win at Brookings and the shootout loss up in Cloquet. The boys the other Minnesota team (Magicians) this week in the home-and-home set.
#2 Amarillo Bulls (7-2-0-1, .750) – Amarillo drops out of the driver’s seat after a rough roadie in Louisiana. Head Coach Rocky Russo’s Bulls get another pair with the ‘Bugs this weekend in Amarillo after things did not really go as plan in Shreveport. Look for the Bull Pen to be rockin’ both nights regardless with whatever is going on with high school football.
#3 Aberdeen Wings (6-2-1-0, .722) – Scott Langer’s Wings climb a notch after picking up a trio of points in the home split with Minot. The Wings roll over to Wisconsin this week to face the upstart Chippewa Steel.
#4 Minot Minotauros (7-3-0-0, .700) – Marty Murray’s ‘Tauros split the weekend set at Aberdeen and get to face another arch-rival this weekend with the home-and-home set with Bizzie. Don’t you just love all the fun and games within the feisty Central Division?
#5 Minnesota Magicians (7-3-0-0, .700) – AJ Bucchino’s Magicians slide up to the Top Five after picking up max points in their weekend home sweep of the Blues. Chippewa visits Thursday before the Magicmen go up against Austin Friday (away) and Saturday (home).
#6 Johnstown Tomahawks (8-4-0-0, .667) – Johnstown split their first ever weekend at Maryland against the Black Bears. Look for the boys to bring the axe this weekend when they go back to the WB.
#7 Topeka Pilots (7-4-0-0, .636) – Simon Watson’s Pilots hold onto #7 after an idle weekend. The next six games are all at home starting this weekend with #8 Kenai River Brown Bears. This is going to be a very interesting battle as both clubs are trying to re-establish themselves as contenders.
#8 Kenai River Brown Bears (7-4-0-1, .625) – Head Coach Josh Petrich’s Bears are back on the road this week in Kansas to face Topeka. Getting swept at home by Janesville took a bite out of the hide, that’s going to happen against teams like the Jets.
#9 Bismarck Bobcats (5-3-0-0, .625) – Head Coach Layne Sedevie’s Bobcats were idle last week and should be more than fired up to face their arch nemesis from Minot. Look for pack houses both nights with battles in Bismarck (Friday) and Minot (Saturday).
#10 Shreveport Mudbugs (6-4-0-0, .600) – Jason Campbell’s Mudbugs climb a few spots into the Top Ten after picking up the weekend home sweep of then top ranked Amarillo. ‘Bugs fan, don’t get too excited just yet as the boys visit the Bull Pen this weekend in Amarillo.
#11 New Jersey Titans (7-5-0-0, .583) – Craig Doremus and the Titans remain just outside the Top Ten despite getting the HUGE road sweep of the Rebels at Jamestown. The Next four games are all at Middletown starting this weekend with the Northeast Generals in for two.
#12 Janesville Jets (7-5-0-0, .583) – Gary Shuchuk’s Jets climb up into the top half of the bracket after picking up the road sweep at Kenai River and winning three of four in Alaska. This weekend’s home series with the Blues could be a barnburner.
#13 Minnesota Wilderness (4-4-1-0, .500) – Davey Boitz and the Wilderness grab lucky thirteen after getting the shootout win over Austin at home. Make no mistake, this is a powerful team that has the on-ice talent to take the cup. The question remains, is Boitz a strong enough coach to keep it all together for a full season?
#14 Springfield Blues (4-4-1-1, .500) – Tyler Rennette’s Blues gave up a dozen goals while getting swept in Minnesota by the Magicians. They will have to do better than that if they hope to have any success this weekend at Janesville.
#15 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights (5-5-1-0, .500) – Head Coach Tom Kowal’s Knights are back to square one (.500) after taking two of three games at home from the Generals. The Tomahawks are back this weekend, for the second time this season, and will be packing some seriously damaging intentions.
#16 Fairbanks Ice Dogs (5-6-0-1, .458) –Trevor Stewart’s Ice Dogs make a big jump after picking up the home sweep of Chippewa. The Alaskans move south to Corpus Christi this weekend to hit the beach and face the IceRays.
#17 Maryland Black Bears (4-5-3-0, .458) – Clint Mylymok’s Bears are just a game under .500 after splitting the weekend home series with the mighty Tomahawks. The Rebels of Jamestown roll down from balmy upstate New York for their first visit to Piney Orchard. This is a fantastic opportunity for the Bears to take a big bite.
#18 Northeast Generals (4-5-0-0, .458) – Joe Lovell’s Generals fall a half-dozen notches after dropping two of three at WB/Scranton. Things won’t get any easier this week with the roadie to Jersey.
#19 Corpus Christi IceRays (4-6-0-0, .400) – Ryan Cruthers’ IceRays split the weekend home set with Lone Star in a series of games that kept everyone watching glued to their seats and screens. The crew will have to keep that intensity up this week with Fairbanks coming in for a pair.
#20 Jamestown Rebels (4-6-0-0, .400) –Joe Coombs’ Rebels drop five spots after getting swept in their opening weekend at Northwest Arena. Let’s give owner Ken Dennis and his staff a hand; they drew more fans in the weekend series (1,200) than their last seven games combined in the Philadelphia area. The Rebs run down to Maryland for their first series against the expansion Black Bears this week.
#21 Odessa Jackalopes (3-5-0-1, .389) – Greg Gatto’s Jackalopes dropped two spots after an idle weekend. That’s ok, the boys are more than focused on this week’s roadie to face the Brahmas.
#22 Lone Star Brahmas (3-6-0-1, .350) – Dan Wildfong’s Brahmas split their weekend series at Corpus and will be facing a fresh Jackalopes team coming in off an idle week. Is this the time where the Brahmas come out of the chute hot? We’ll find out this week.
#23 Chippewa Steel (3-8-1-0, .292) – Al Rooney’s Steel showed a ton of promise in their weekend set at Fairbanks. Saturday night’s overtime loss was certainly a barnburner. The Steel are in for a rough weekend with the quick trip to visit the Magicians Thursday before hosting Aberdeen Friday and Saturday. Getting a W is not going to be easy.
#24 Brookings Blizzard (1-6-1-1, .333) – Moe Mantha’s Blizzard have lit the lamp only three times in the last five games (while giving up 27). With the next five games at the Larson Ice Center, now is the time to jump off the bottom of this list with a bang. Mantha is one hundred times the coach than that ding dong standing on the visitors’ bench this weekend.
THE FINE PRINT
We have moved to a pure mathematical ranking system based entirely on the team’s winning percentage before going to goal differential in the event of ties. Yes, sometimes simple is best. In the last few years we’ve added a letter grade to NAHL rankings and created a bit of discontent for doing that. As a result, that practice has discontinued.