Plenty of news and action this past week as coaching changes were announced and the South Division saw a new leader emerge.
The big story was the announcements by the Corpus Christi IceRays and the Odessa Jackalopes that they were making changes with their coaching staffs. The IceRays announced early on January 9 that they had parted ways second year head coach/GM Al Rooney. This after a season that saw the Rays fall in five games to the Amarillo Bulls in the first round of the playoffs last season.
Nate Weossner was named interim head coach and lead the Rays into this past weekend’s series that saw the Shreveport Mudbugs sweep the Rays in Corpus Christi in three games. The Bugs defeated the Rays 5-1 on Friday and Saturday night before delivering a devastating 8-0 defeat to Corpus Christi on Sunday. The IceRays currently sit in fifth place in the division, 17 points out of a playoff spot.
Also last Thursday, the Odessa Jackalopes announced that Todd Watson was stepping down as head coach and general manager. Watson has since been assigned to scouting duties in the mid-west region for the Jackalopes and their NA3HL affiliates. Adam Phillips has been named as interim head coach for the remainder of the season.
Like his counterpart in Corpus Christi Phillips led the Jacks into a tough three-game series against the Amarillo Bulls. It was a series that saw Amarillo win 4-0 on Friday, 5-1 on Saturday, and 7-1 on Sunday. Jordan Venegoni had five goals in three games for the Bulls, including two back-to-back multi point games and Charlie Glockner picked up his league leading seventh shutout on Friday. With the sweep, the Bulls have jumped into sole possession of first place in the division and boast the best record in the North American Hockey League.
The New Mexico Ice Wolves continue to trend in the right direction with a big home sweep of the Kenai River Brown Bears this weekend. The Ice Wolves took care of business on Friday with a 6-2 victory at the Outpost Ice Arenas, they were led by a two-goal performance by forward Alex Dominique. On Saturday, the Brown Bears and Ice Wolves went back and forth with several lead changes. But in the end New Mexico prevailed thanks to three third period goals. With the sweep, the Ice Wolves have won three games in a row and have jumped to sixth place in the South Division.
Finally, the Lone Star Brahmas and the Topeka Pilots were idle this week.
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