Here’s a courtesy note for all those with a significant other… we are a month away from Valentine’s Day. What in the heck does that have to do with hockey you ask? In that same time period we can all expect that the reality of the 2018-19 season will be shaped. Look for the overachievers to return to their original form and coaches that have been on their best behavior to start showing their true colors as well.
NORTH AMERICAN HOCKEY LEAGUE
The Wings have wins in fourteen straight games to stretch their lead in the Central Division to ten-points. Austin now has a five-point advantage over the Wilderness while Bismarck and Minot find themselves in a battle for the fourth playoff spot. Brookings may be the odd man out of the playoff race, at this point, but everyone should expect to see Moe Mantha’s team to continue playing the spoiler on a regular basis.
Johnstown continues their reign as the beast of the East Division after the weekend double shutout at Maryland. Joe Coombs’ Rebels are 16-points behind the Tomahawks for second place, ten points ahead of New Jersey. The real battle here is for that fourth and final playoff berth with the Northeast Generals two-points ahead of the Knights and three over Maryland. It’s important to note that only Johnstown and Jamestown have more wins in the last ten games (of the teams in the East division) than the expansion Black Bears.
Don’t look now but it looks like the Minnesota Magicians have found the gas pedal again. There are issues being addressed in Janesville, that happens with any sudden coaching change, but I’m not going to take anything away from the Magicians home sweep of the Jets. Saturday’s 5-1 win was as solid of a game the team has played all season. Luckily for the Jets, Fairbanks may have got too caught up in their own success in Friday’s big over Springfield to remember there are no nights off in the NAHL. The Blues picked up the series split with an outstanding effort on Saturday. While all that was going on the Brown Bears were swept at home by Chippewa.
There are a bunch of folks that will read that first paragraph and ASSUME we’re talking about Amarillo coach Rocky Russo. That would be a huge mistake as Russo and his Bulls have been playing a different brand of hockey (least penalized team in South Division) while still being able to appear to their less than hockey smart fan base. Turns out that scoring goals gets the folks even more excited than a scrap. Who would have thunk it? Amarillo has a 15-point lead over second place Corpus Christi. Three-points behind the IceRays is Lone Star and Shreveport tied for third (and fourth). Topeka is three-points out of the division’s last playoff but eight-points ahead of Odessa.
CHEERS AND JEERS
-Cheers to the Odessa Jackalopes for ending all that craziness in Amarillo with a 5-3 road win Friday night.
-Jeers to all the NA3HL coaches that continue to pile it on against Evansville. Do you brain surgeons realize that doing so is only hurting yourself? Maybe it would have made more sense for each of you to send a few of the regular healthy scratches to Evansville than it does to run up the score against them. Developmentally speaking, everyone on the ice is getting ripped off each time it happens. Classless.
Author: Stephen Heisler
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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