As we get into the meat and potatoes part of the regular season, there are still a few surprises in the standings.
NORTH AMERICAN HOCKEY LEAGUE
One would think that an 8-0-0-1 tear would give the Central Division leading Bismarck Bobcats (9-1-0-2) a little breathing room atop the group. Yea right, this is the Central where nothing is ever going to be easy. Winners in seven of the last ten games, Minot (8-1-1-2) is just a point behind. The Wilderness (9-6-1-0) have played four more games and remain tied with Minot. Aberdeen (5-2-4-1) has secured points in eight straight games while tied with Austin (5-5-1-2).
The Titans (12-2-0-0) remain in the East Division driver’s seat and are unblemished in seven straight games. Johnstown (9-6-1-1) climbed up a notch after the three-game series with the fifth-place Generals (7-9-0-1). The Knights (9-7-0-1) and Maine Nordiques (8-7-0-0) fall into third and fourth spots. Maryland (6-7-1-0) is just a single win below .500 and looked strong while earning three-points in the weekend series with the Knights. That leaves us with Joe Coombs’ last place Rebels (3-11-0-2). The group looked much better in Saturday’s 2-1 loss than what was shown in Friday’s 7-0 stinker.
The Midwest Division leading Chippewa Steel (10-2-0-0) have wins in eight-straight games after the weekend road sweep of strangely last-place Janesville (5-9-1-0). I’m still confident that the order will quickly be restored after seeing the hard-charging Ice Dogs (9-4-0-1) get a road sweep of their own at Amarillo. Kenai River (7-5-1-2) was swept in Maine by the expansion Nordiques. Springfield (5-6-2-1) and the Magicians (4-6-3-1) are a single point apart in the battle for fourth place.
The South Division leading Topeka Pilots (12-4-1-1) are just a single point ahead of the stampeding Brahmas (12-3-0-1) while Shreveport (11-5-0-0) and Corpus Christi (9-5-2-2) are in a dead heat at third place. Amarillo (8-4-1-1) is recovering from a case of the chills after getting swept at home by Fairbanks. Odessa (5-8-1-1) falls to three games under par after getting shelled at home by the Brahmas. That leaves us with the expansion Ice Wolves (1-13-0-1) who rebounded from Friday’s 6-3 home loss to the Mudbugs with a solid effort in Saturday’s 2-1 loss to the same Shreveport club.
CHEERS AND JEERS
Cheers to Texas RoadRunners (NA3HL) twineminder Jaeger Reed (1-6-0-0, 4.80 GAA, .894 SV%) for stopping 51 of 54 shots in Sunday’s 4-3 road win at Louisiana.
Jeers to any tier III coach that limits ANY opportunity that his players have at a higher level of play. There is not a game on the schedule that’s more valuable to the chance for a player to make a step up the ladder. Coaches that are doing this should step aside because they have lost the #1 reason for coaching at this level; to push kids up that ladder.
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 Victorious Hockey Company. Stephen, his wife Deysi, and four children reside in Orlando, Florida.
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