The Johnstown Tomahawks’ dozen-game win streak leaves them atop our North American Hockey League rankings for the second week.
Now for the disclosure… the following is my opinion and not written under the influence of anything or anybody.
#1 Johnstown Tomahawks (19-4-0-0) – Johnstown extends their streak to twelve games after sweeping the Titans at home. Maryland visits tonight before the Generals comes in for Friday and Saturday.
#2 Minnesota Magicians (17-5-0-0) – AJ Bucchino’s Magicians climb a notch to #2 after weekend home sweep of Janesville. The Twin Cities team goes north to face the Wilderness tonight before hosting the Wilderness Saturday at Richfield Ice Arena.
#3 Amarillo Bulls (13-3-1-2) – Amarillo fall to #3 after a week off. The Bulls come back from their holiday break with a visit to Odessa this weekend.
#4 Minot Minotauros (15-6-0-0) – Marty Murray’s Tauros got a does of reality Friday night when Brookings jumped up and bit them in the … rear. Minot found themselves in another dogfight in Saturday’s game but denied the Blizzard 5-4 to salvage the home split. Aberdeen has to be chomping at the bit thinking they have an opportunity to do some damage this weekend when they visit the Maysa.
#5 Aberdeen Wings (11-4-1-1) – Scott Langer’s Wings is back from the off week to host suddenly dangerous Brookings tonight before going to Minot this weekend.
#6 Austin Bruins (12-5-0-3) – Head Coach Steve Howard’s Bruins put a stop to a three-game slide with a 5-1 win over the Bobcats on Saturday to get the home split. This week’s post turkey home-and-home set with Chippewa could produce some surprises if the Bruins make the mistake of overlooking the Steel…just ask Janesville.
#7 Bismarck Bobcats (11-7-1-0) – Head Coach Layne Sedevie’s Bobcats split the weekend set at Austin with flair. Brookings visits the VFW Sports Center this weekend for a pair.
#8 New Jersey Titans (13-9-0-0) – Craig Doremus and the Titans are not looking forward to going back to Johnstown anytime soon. The Titans’ defensive issues (allowed 17 goals in last three games) have to be shored up before this week’s home-and-home set with the Knights.
#9 Minnesota Wilderness (11-8-1-0) – Tim Madsen’s Wilderness (currently being erratically steered by another) picked up the expected home-and-home sweep of Chippewa last week. Let’s see if Davey Boitz can keep it between the lines this week when the Wilderness face the second-ranked Magicians.
#10 Lone Star Brahmas (10-7-2-1) – Dan Wildfong’s Brahmas may have been a little too focused on the well-tanned señoritas in Friday’s overtime loss at Corpus Christi. That happens from time to time. Wildfong has a fix for that and the Brahmas got the win on Saturday. Those pesky Mudbugs visit tonight before the IceRays are back at NYTEX for Friday and Saturday.
#11 Jamestown Rebels (11-8-1-1) –Joe Coombs’ Rebels took advantage of the underpowered Knights at the WB over the weekend, something I’m sure the veteran coach does not feel bad about. The Black Bears make their first trek to Northwest Arena this weekend.
#12 Janesville Jets (11-8-2-1) – Gary Shuchuk’s Jets slide to #12 after picking up a single point in the two-game set in Minnesota with the Magicians. The fact is that the expectations are much greater than that. With just four wins in the last ten games, the pressure is on to get a positive result from the weekend roadie to Springfield.
#13 Topeka Pilots (11-9-1-1) – Simon Watson’s Pilots split their series at Springy with a high level of ugliness. I’m thinking that the ‘Bugs will be bringing the laundry basket of tricks to the Kansas ExpoCentre this weekend.
#14 Fairbanks Ice Dogs (9-8-1-2) –Trevor Stewart’s Ice Dogs got a little break last week before the Alaska civil war begins. Fairbanks gets to face Kenai River in six-straight games starting with the first three at the Soldotna Sports Complex this weekend.
#15 Shreveport Mudbugs (9-8-0-3) – Jason Campbell’s Mudbugs came into this season with heavily inflated expectations. That’s going to happen after winning the Cup. Getting the three-point home split from Odessa helped elevate Shreveport a notch on the list but I can’t help but think the folks back home want a lot more. Yea, those Cajuns can get cranky. The Mudbugs visit Lone Star tonight before crawling up to Topeka for the weekend.
#16 Springfield Blues (9-9-2-1) – Tyler Rennette’s Blues are still at square one (.500) after the weekend home split with Topeka. Saturday night’s 6-0 win over the Pilots left many to wonder what happened in Friday’s 2-1 loss. Janesville visits the Nelson Center this weekend for a pair.
#17 Kenai River Brown Bears (9-10-0-1) – Head Coach Josh Petrich’s Brown Bears are losers in eight of the last ten games, there’s really no way to make that fact pretty. The upcoming six-game series with Fairbanks could easily drive the Brownies far deeper on this list.
#18 Odessa Jackalopes (8-9-0-1) – Greg Gatto’s Jackalopes are a much better team than their sub .500 record indicates, just ask the folks in Shreveport. Corpus Christi visits tonight before the third-ranked Bulls visit this weekend.
#19 Corpus Christi IceRays (8-10-1-0) – Ryan Cruthers’ IceRays did a little number on the Brahmas in overtime on Friday before falling 2-1 on Saturday. Listen, the IceRays are never going to like giving up points to Lone Star. The ‘Rays are in Odessa tonight before visiting Lone Star this weekend. That’s going to be fun to watch.
#20 Maryland Black Bears (7-10-3-2) – Clint Mylymok’ Black Bears picked up the split in Boston and have a big assignment this holiday week. Maryland visits Johnstown tonight before going to Jamestown this weekend.
#21 Northeast Generals (7-10-1-1) – Joe Lovell’s Generals picked up a nice 4-1 win over Maryland on Saturday before getting snubbed 2-1 Sunday. The post-Thanksgiving run out to Johnstown could be troublesome.
#22 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights (6-14-1-1) – Head Coach Tom Kowal’s Knights have a single win in the last ten games after getting swept at home by the Rebels. Will Kowal be able to get things turned around before this week’s home-and-home with Jersey? I doubt it.
#23 Chippewa Steel (5-16-1-1) – Al Rooney’s Steel were snake-bit by the Wilderness last week. The next five games could certainly put the Steel into a deeper hole. This week’s home-and-home with Austin gives Chippewa the perfect opportunity to follow Brookings’ lead with a big bite.
#24 Brookings Blizzard (3-14-1-1) – Moe Mantha’s Blizzard ripped the top off the Maysa with Friday’s 7-2 win at Minot. The grizzled old coach almost made it a sweep, but Minot scored in the third to nab the 5-4 win. Nice result no less. Brookings is at Aberdeen tonight before facing Bismarck Friday and Saturday.
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.