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Published: Wednesday, 12 Dec 2018  
By: Stephen Heisler,

The Johnstown Tomahawks saw their seventeen-game streak come to a screeching halt in Jamestown last week and appear ready to start another string of wins. There’s nothing like going 25-5 to start the season. Yes, the Tomahawks are the current king of the mountain atop the North American Hockey League rankings this week. 

Now for the disclosure… the following is my opinion and not written under the influence of anything or anybody.

#1 Johnstown Tomahawks (25-5-0-0) – Johnstown got rolled at Jamestown Friday before picking up the series spit with Saturday’s win. New Jersey visits this week in last games before the Christmas break.

#2 Amarillo Bulls (18-3-2-2) – Rocky Russo’s Bulls Brahmas are now the hottest team in the league (10-0-2-0 in last dozen games) after the weekend home sweep of Lone Star. Amarillo will be tested this week with three games at Shreveport.

#3 Aberdeen Wings (18-5-1-1) – Scott Langer’s Wings are on a five-game win streak after the home sweep of the Wilderness. Aberdeen goes into Minot tomorrow and Friday before shutting it down for the holiday.

#4 Minnesota Magicians (20-7-0-0) – AJ Bucchino’s Magicians took two of three home games with Kenai River last week and have wins in seven of their last ten games. Look for major battle this week when they visit Janesville.

#5 Austin Bruins (17-6-0-3) – Head Coach Steve Howard’s Bruins are also riding a five-game streak after the weekend road sweep at Brookings. This week’s trip to Bizzie will be a little more difficult than Brookings.

#6 Bismarck Bobcats (16-8-1-0) – Head Coach Layne Sedevie’s Bobcats split last week’s home-and-home set with Minot. #5 Austin visits this weekend in what should be a very entertaining match-up to watch.

#7 Minot Minotauros (17-9-1-0) – Marty Murray’s Tauros remains at #7 after the split with #6 Bismarck. #3 Aberdeen visits tomorrow and Friday in the other Central Division showdown.

#8 Jamestown Rebels (15-9-2-1) –Joe Coombs’ Rebels slayed the dragon with Friday’s 4-1 win over the Tomahawks. The weekend split with Johnstown should give the Rebels a ton of confidence going into this week’s trip to the WB.

#9 Janesville Jets (15-9-2-1) – Gary Shuchuk’s Jets shutout Fairbanks 3-0 Friday at home propelling the Jets up to #9. Can Janesville take the Magicians down a few notches this weekend at home?

#10 Fairbanks Ice Dogs (15-10-1-2) –Trevor Stewart’s Ice Dogs were tripped up at Janesville (3-0 loss) before getting the chance to take their frustrations out on Chippewa (6-2 win) Saturday night. The bus rolls to Springfield this weekend in the last games before Christmas.

#11 New Jersey Titans (16-12-0-0) – Craig Doremus and the Titans split yet another weekend home series; this time with Maryland. The Titans must play five games inside of nine days before getting 21 days off for the holidays. Jersey gets the fun started when they travel to Johnstown this weekend.

#12 Topeka Pilots (14-10-2-2) – Simon Watson’s Pilots split yet another home series, this time with Shreveport, gain picking up three-points along the way. Division leading Amarillo visits this week.

#13 Corpus Christi IceRays (10-11-1-0) – Ryan Cruthers’ IceRays make a big jump this week after putting Odessa on ice with a big home sweep. Corpus plays three at Odessa this week.

#14 Minnesota Wilderness (13-10-1-0) – The Wilderness were swept back to Minnesota by Aberdeen in a pair of one-goal losses. Bench Boss Davey Boitz is expected to be back in the cheap seats this weekend when the team hosts the Blizzard. Boitz picked up an Abuse of Officials penalty that should result in an automatic suspension. There’s a rumor floating around that team ownership could replace Boitz with rookie coach Elmer Fudd in the coming weeks.

#15 Shreveport Mudbugs (12-11-1-3) – Jason Campbell’s Mudbugs earned a trio of points in the split at Topeka. The Brahmas visit George’s Pond for three games this week. Can Shreveport make the most of the opportunity to take a few more step up the ladder?

#16 Lone Star Brahmas (11-11-2-3) – Dan Wildfong’s Brahmas are winless in the last five games after getting swept at Amarillo. The next three are all at Shreveport this week in a series that has to be the wakeup call for Lone Star.

#17 Springfield Blues (10-12-2-1) – Tyler Rennette’s Blues will have had 13 days without a game before facing Fairbanks this weekend. Such a long break could mean the Blues are well-rested and ready for the Ice Dogs.

#18 Odessa Jackalopes (11-13-0-1) – Greg Gatto’s Jackalopes gave up 13 goals while getting swept at Corpus Christi. Yep, that one’s going to leave a mark. Look for a whole lot of fun this week with the IceRays visiting for three games.

#19 Kenai River Brown Bears (11-15-2-1) – Head Coach Josh Petrich’s Brown Bears sink to four-games under .500 after losing two of three games with the Magicians. With just two wins in their last ten games, the Brownies must come up with a positive result at #23 Chippewa this weekend.

#20 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights (11-16-1-0) – Head Coach Tom Kowal’s Knights took two of three games against the Generals. Jamestown visits this week.

#21 Northeast Generals (8-14-2-2) – Joe Lovell’s Generals went 1-1-0-1 in the three-game home series with the Knights. What are the expectations going to be with Maryland visiting this week?

#22 Maryland Black Bears (8-16-3-2) – Clint Mylymok’ Black Bears have two wins in their last ten games after the split at Jersey. This week’s set of games in Boston could easily propel Maryland up a few notches on this list.

#23 Chippewa Steel (6-20-1-1) – The Steel have dropped four straight games after losing Saturday’s home contest 6-2 to Fairbanks. That other Alaska team, the Kenai River Brown Bears, visit this week. 

#24 Brookings Blizzard (3-20-1-1) – Moe Mantha’s Blizzard losing streak stretches to nine games after Brookings was swept at him by Austin. The bus rolls to Cloquet, Minnesota this week where the Blizzard will visit the Wilderness. 

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.

Author: Stephen Heisler from
Stephen Heisler has spent a lifetime in the game of hockey. Stephen is also working with individual teams, coaches, and players as a director with the Heisler Group. Stephen, his wife Deysi, and four children reside in Orlando, Florida.

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