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Published: Friday, 28 Dec 2018  
By: Stephen Heisler,

The North American Hockey League will always have games that are intriguing. In this new feature we will profile the Top Five based on our weekly rankings.

#24 Brookings Blizzard vs #3 Aberdeen Wings – This is going to be a three-game series starting tonight when the Wings visit Brookings. The teams move out to Aberdeen to go at it Saturday and Monday night for New Year’s Eve. On paper, the Blizzard don’t have a chance. The problem for the Wings is that games are played on ice and not on paper. Moe Mantha has a little mad scientist in him and the expectation is that his group is already looking at the rest of this season as a sneak preview for 2019-20. The pressure is all on the Wings so don’t be surprised to see Mantha’s youngsters pull a game from this series.

#18 Kenai River Brown Bears at #7 Janesville Jets - The Brown Bears have just two wins in their last ten games and are winless in the last four. If the slide continues much longer Kenai River could quickly find themselves on the outside looking in when the playoffs start… again. Janesville is on a roll and will be looking to send the Brownies away with nothing. 

#10 Corpus Christi IceRays at #13 Shreveport Mudbugs – The IceRays roll into this series as one of hottest teams in the league with wins in eight straight games and nine of their last ten. That’s smoking. Corpus Christi is tied with the Mudbugs for 2nd place in the South Division with three less games played. Can the Mudbugs do anything to put an end to the IceRays’ rise? They CAN play with any team in the league, but the question remains…will they?

#8 Bismarck Bobcats vs #9 Minot Minotauros – It’s official, these two teams, towns, and fans literally hate each other. I’m thinking that throw a bunch of roller derby girls onto the ice, and watch all hell break loose, if it’s a battle between Bismarck and Minot. Standings and recent history are irrelevant in a series like this one.  Look for a very high intensity set of games. The action starts Friday in Bismarck before moving to Minot for Saturday. 

#12 Minnesota Wilderness vs #4 Austin Bruins – My ten-year-old is a huge NASCAR fan. He has the complete die-cast collection and watches the races every chance he gets. Do you think he’s ready to get behind the wheel and run the Daytona 500? Maybe that’s too much, I’ll just throw him the keys and let him take the Mercedes to Walmart instead? No, that would not be too smart either. It’s my opinion that the Wilderness face a similar situation every time the team hits the ice. Sure, any fool can mash the gas pedal and go fast in a straight line, but what’s going to happen in the curves, traffic, and when the race is on the line? The experienced driver can guide his wheels through to get the win. There are 300 coaches at the high school, junior B, and youth levels that bring more to the track than that guy steering the Wilderness. I’m going to be watching these games because everybody loves a good wreck. 

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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