The Johnstown Tomahawks North American Hockey League once again top our rankings after raking up three more victories and extending their streak to 15 straight wins.
Now for the disclosure… the following is my opinion and not written under the influence of anything or anybody.
#1 Johnstown Tomahawks (22-4-0-0) – Johnstown has wins in fifteen straight games after the weekend sweep of the Generals. Can anybody stop this train? The Tomahawks face the Generals again this weekend in Boston.
#2 Amarillo Bulls (14-3-2-2) – Rocky Russo’s Bulls recovered from Friday night’s overtime loss with a hard-fought 3-2 win to split the road series at Odessa. Amarillo is in Shreveport this week.
#3 Minnesota Magicians (18-6-0-0) – AJ Bucchino’s Magicians split the weekend home-and-home set with the Wilderness in a series that saw the road team win both games. The boys are off this week before Kenai River visits December 6-8.
#4 Aberdeen Wings (13-5-1-1) – Scott Langer’s Wings picked up the difficult road split at Minot in a series that could be repeated in the playoffs. Chippewa visits this week.
#5 Minot Minotauros (16-7-0-0) – Marty Murray’s Tauros split the home set with Aberdeen and have to face the Bruins in Austin this weekend. There are very few easy nights in this division.
#6 Austin Bruins (13-6-0-3) – Head Coach Steve Howard’s Bruins were beaten at home by Chippewa Friday night in a game that may come back to bite the bear later in the season. Let’s face it; every point counts in this division. There will be no room for mistakes this week with Minot visiting.
#7 Bismarck Bobcats (13-7-1-0) – Head Coach Layne Sedevie’s Bobcats join the me-too movement with a pair of wins over Brookings that puts the Bobcats into the thick of things for the division title. That’s crazy talk before we turn the page on November? Not in this division where separation from the pack is going to be difficult. Bizzie is at Brookings this weekend.
#8 Jamestown Rebels (13-8-1-1) –Joe Coombs’ Rebels stuffed Maryland with a combined score of 11-1 over two games to get the home sweep. Jamestown is in Jersey this weekend.
#9 Janesville Jets (13-8-2-1) – Gary Shuchuk’s Jets picked up the sweep at Springfield with identical 3-2 scores. The next nine games are at Janesville Ice Arena starting with the visiting Wilderness this weekend.
#10 Fairbanks Ice Dogs (12-8-1-2) –Trevor Stewart’s Ice Dogs took all three games at Kenai River despite needing overtime to win two. The Brownies will drag their six-game winless streak to the Dipper this weekend.
#11 New Jersey Titans (14-10-0-0) – Craig Doremus and the Titans split the home-and-home set with the Knights last week in a series that should not have been that difficult. Things will be more challenging with the red-hot Rebels visiting this week.
#12 Minnesota Wilderness (12-9-1-0) – The Wilderness split the weekend set with the Magicians and are at #9 Janesville this week. Winners in seven of the last ten games, the talent of this team is overshadowing Davey Boitz’s coaching shortcomings.
#13 Lone Star Brahmas (11-8-2-1) – Dan Wildfong’s Brahmas have a long history of having trouble with Corpus Christi; that’s the beauty of a rivalry. The problem is that Lone Star has developed similar hatred for just about every division opponent. Just watch what happens when the Brahmas visit Odessa this weekend.
#14 Shreveport Mudbugs (11-9-0-3) – Jason Campbell’s Mudbugs split the weekend set at Topeka is a series that proved to showcase the competitiveness of the South Division. The big bad Bulls of Amarillo visit the Pond this weekend,
#15 Topeka Pilots (12-10-1-1) – Simon Watson’s Pilots split the first two of ten straight games at the Kansas ExpoCentre. The Mudbugs series was interesting because the Pilots proved to themselves that they can regroup from a disappointing loss with a second solid effort to secure the win. Springfield visits this week.
#16 Corpus Christi IceRays (10-11-1-0) – Ryan Cruthers’ IceRays are never going to be afraid of playing at NYTEX Sports Center or against the Brahmas. It’s easy to put the game face on against a heated rival. The boys get to relax this week before hosting Odessa December 7-8.
#17 Kenai River Brown Bears (9-11-2-1) – Head Coach Josh Petrich’s Brown Bears have to figure out how to not be the Ice Dogs’ Washington Generals. Winless in the last six after a very competitive three-game weekend of just-not-enoughs, Kenai River must stop the skid this week at Fairbanks. Not doing so could set a disastrous tone for the rest of the season.
#18 Springfield Blues (9-11-2-1) – Tyler Rennette’s Blues have just one win in their last four games after being swept at home by Janesville. They are going to want to do better when they visit Topeka this week.
#19 Odessa Jackalopes (9-11-0-1) – Greg Gatto’s Jackalopes can almost taste it. They are a good hockey team with just a few missing pieces away from being great. Will that happen this season? The talent is almost good enough to make a run. The weekend home split with Amarillo was productive and this group would like nothing more than to make some noise when the Brahmas show up this week.
#20 Northeast Generals (7-11-2-1) – Joe Lovell’s Generals gave the frontrunning Tomahawks fits on Saturday; forcing Johnstown to overtime before taking the fall. Will that trend continue this week when the Tomahawks visit the New England Sports Village?
#21 Maryland Black Bears (7-13-3-2) – Clint Mylymok’ Black Bears were outgunned 19-3 in their three-game road swing through Johnstown (8-2 L) and Jamestown (7-1 L, 4-0 L). That’s the bad news. The good? The Knights visit Piney Orchard this weekend.
#22 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights (7-15-1-1) – Head Coach Tom Kowal’s Knights put the stop to a long losing streak with Saturday’s home win over the Titans (with 79 butts in the seats!). The WB is at Maryland this week.
#23 Chippewa Steel (6-17-1-1) – The Steel made a coaching change last week before splitting the weekend home-and-home with Austin. Al Rooney makes way for 26-year-old Carter Foguth. Not sure what the Steel plan is for the young coach, but the team did respond for him against Austin. The real proof will be in seeing how much resistance the Steel present for the Wings this week at Aberdeen.
#24 Brookings Blizzard (3-17-1-1) – Moe Mantha’s Blizzard turned in yet another stinker while getting swept at Bismarck (9-0 and 4-1). A pile of fresh players has made their way to Larsen Ice Center with hopes of giving the veteran coach a hand in shaking up the roster before the Bobcats visit this week.
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.