Two teams punched their ticket to the playoffs this week as the standings shifted slightly in the South Division.
The Lone Star Brahmas picked up their eleventh victory in a row as they swept the Corpus Christi IceRays at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi. Lone Star was victorious 3-1 on Friday before shutting out the IceRays 1-0 on Saturday. Brahmas goaltender Cayden Bailey made 11 saves in his third straight shutout, he is now tied for the league lead in shutouts with eight. With the sweep, the Brahmas were the first team to clinch a playoff spot this season.
Amarillo also picked up an important sweep on the road, this time sweeping the Odessa Jackalopes, 4-0 on Friday and Saturday and then 5-0 on Sunday. Forward David Hill had two goals on Friday while Nick Trela scored a natural hat-trick on Saturday. Goaltender Max Gutjahr picked up his second and third shutouts on the season during those two games. On Sunday, Charlie Glockner made 11 saves to record his eight shutouts of the season, he is tied with Lone Star’s Cayden Bailey for the league lead. With the sweep Amarillo became the second team in the North American Hockey League to clinch a playoff spot.
The lone split in the South came between the Topeka Pilots and the Springfield Jr. Blues. Springfield took the first game in Topeka 6-3 before the Pilots came back and forced a weekend split 5-2 victory on Saturday. Despite the split, the Pilots improved to third place in the South division, jumping over the idle Shreveport Mudbugs.
Finally, the New Mexico Ice Wolves were on the road in Alaska this weekend for a series with the Kenai River Brown Bears. The Bears avenged the sweep they suffered in Albuquerque earlier in the month with a sweep of their own. The Ice Wolves fell 4-3 on Friday, despite a two-goal performance by Emil Gabrielson. On Saturday, the Brown Bears swarmed the Ice Wolves in an 8-2 rout. Laudon Poellinger had two goals on the night for Kenai River.
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