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Published: Wednesday, 9 Jan 2019  
By: Stephen Heisler,

The Johnstown Tomahawks hold onto the #1 spot in the first North American Hockey League rankings of 2019. 

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

#1 Johnstown Tomahawks (29-5-0-0) – Johnstown lost 3-2 at Maryland back on October 12th and has gone 22-1 since. Now winners in five straight, the Tomahawks go back to Maryland this weekend.

#2 Amarillo Bulls (25-3-2-2) – Rocky Russo’s Bulls are 17-0-2-1 in their last 20 games after rolling the visiting IceRays over the weekend. Odessa visits this week.

#3 Aberdeen Wings (25-5-1-1) – Scott Langer’s Wings have wins in a dozen straight games after ripping rival Bismarck 13-2 over two games last week. Aberdeen is at Austin this week.

#4 Austin Bruins (21-9-0-3) – Head Coach Steve Howard’s Bruins split the weekend series with Brookings. Red hot Aberdeen comes to Riverside Arena this weekend.

#5 Minnesota Magicians (22-10-1-0) – AJ Bucchino’s Magicians were swept at Springfield last week and will try to reset quickly with the next four games all against Janesville. The Jets visit this weekend.

#6 Jamestown Rebels (20-10-2-1) –Joe Coombs’ Rebels split their series at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and face the Knights again this weekend at home.

#7 Janesville Jets (19-11-2-1) – Gary Shuchuk has been relieved of his duties making way for longtime assistant Corey Leivermann to take the pilot’s seat just in time for last weekend’s series split with Fairbanks. The next four games are all against the division leading Magicians starting this weekend in Richfield.

#8 Fairbanks Ice Dogs (18-11-3-2) –Trevor Stewart’s Ice Dogs skated back out of Janesville with a trio of valuable points and get the next nine games at their Big Dipper Ice Arena in Fairbanks. Springfield visits this week.

#9 Minnesota Wilderness (19-13-1-0) – The Wilderness have wins in seven of their last ten games and now find themselves in our Top Ten. The weekend series home sweep of visiting Minot certainly made a statement. Minnesota travels to Minot this weekend in a series that will be very interesting.

#10 Bismarck Bobcats (18-13-1-0) – Head Coach Layne Sedevie’s Bobcats won’t be in any hurry to face Aberdeen again after a disastrous weekend. Brookings comes to town this week.

#11 New Jersey Titans (18-15-0-0) – Craig Doremus and the Titans return from the break with a weekend set against the Generals in Boston.

#12 Minot Minotauros (18-15-1-0) – Marty Murray’s Tauros have wins in just two of their last ten games after getting swept by the Wilderness in Minnesota. Can this group turn it around before that same Wilderness team visits this week?

#13 Corpus Christi IceRays (18-15-1-0) – Ryan Cruthers’ IceRays have dropped four straight games after winning the previous nine. Yes, getting swept in the three-game series at Amarillo left a mark. Shreveport visits this week giving Corpus Christi the perfect opportunity to reverse course again.

#14 Shreveport Mudbugs (16-13-1-4) – Jason Campbell’s Mudbugs got a full week of rest before heading down to Corpus Christi this week. What are the expectations? For most ‘Bugs fans, it’s all or nothing.

#15 Springfield Blues (14-14-2-1) – Tyler Rennette’s Blues picked up a huge home sweep of the division leading Magicians last week to give the group a nice vote of confidence. That’s going to be needed with the next two weekends in Alaska. The Blues visit Fairbanks this week.

#16 Lone Star Brahmas (14-14-2-4) – Dan Wildfong’s Brahmas have wins in just three of the last ten games. That the bad news. The good? The Brahmas will try to make it three (and four) wins in a row when Topeka visits this week.

#17 Topeka Pilots (15-15-2-2) – Simon Watson’s Pilots are back in action this week when they visit Lone Star.

#18 Kenai River Brown Bears (12-17-2-2) – Head Coach Josh Petrich’s Brown Bears got a needed week off and get the next nine games at home. It’s possible that Kenai River could take seven of the nine games and move to .500. Let’s see what happens when Chippewa visits this weekend.

#19 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights (12-19-1-1) – Head Coach Tom Kowal’s Knights picked up three-points in the home split with #6 Jamestown. The Knights travel to Jamestown this weekend.

#20 Odessa Jackalopes (12-10-0-1) – Greg Gatto’s Jackalopes got a week of needed rest before playing at Amarillo this week.

#21 Maryland Black Bears (11-19-3-2) – Clint Mylymok’ Black Bears split their weekend home series with the Generals. Can the Black Bears put another blemish on the visiting (and top-ranked) Tomahawks this week?

#22 Northeast Generals (10-18-3-3) – Joe Lovell’s Generals split their weekend road series at Maryland and will be hosting New Jersey this week.

#23 Chippewa Steel (9-23-1-1) – The Steel shocked Fairbanks 4-1 Saturday night in the perfect send-off party before Chippewa makes their trip to Alaska. They visit Kenai River this weekend/

#24 Brookings Blizzard (4-27-2-1) – Moe Mantha’s Blizzard looked respectable in their weekend split with the Austin Bruins, picking up three-points for the effort. Can the Blizzard do that trick this week when they visit #10 Bismarck? It could happen.

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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