NAHL’s East division and season outlook coming out of the showcase.
The NAHL’s East division is always an intriguing battle to see who makes the playoffs and who doesn’t. This season is slated to be an even bigger battle as the most teams the division has ever seen with 7 will definitely make for some interesting matchups throughout the season with 3 teams missing out on the playoffs its going to be a tight battle.
The Maryland Black Bears currently sit a top the east division with a 3-2-1 record good for 7 points. They also have played a total of 6 games which is tied with the Generals, Titans, and the Hat Tricks for the most games played in the division. The Black Bears headed to Minnesota with a 1-0-1 record. They kicked off the season with a dominating 5-0 win over the New Jersey Titans. Top prospect goaltender Michael Morelli who is entering his 2nd season with the Black Bears picked up his first career shutout with the victory stopping all 23 shots he faced. The Black Bears would fall to the titans in game 2 of their series 4-3 in OT.
Their first game of the showcase was against the Corpus Christi Ice Rays who hail from arguably the NAHL’s toughest division- the south division. They were lead by Vlad Polegoshko’s hat trick en route to a 3-5 win.
They kept the train rolling on day 2 with a 4-2 victory, Defenseman Luke Van Why continued his dominance with his 2nd and 3rd goal along his 5th and 6th assists. He had 4 points in that game which lead all skaters.
They would then fall to the Jackalopes 4-2 in day 3 of the showcase for their first loss on the young campaign. The last and final day of the showcase they suffered a 4-2 loss in a tight battle with the Chippewa Steel including a empty net goal.
Defenseman Luke Van Why was named East division star of the week with 2 goals and 5 assist in the 4 games at the showcase and is currently tied for the most points in the NAHL with 10. The Black Bears head to Piney Orchard to face the Maine Nordiques in an East division final rematch for their home opener.
The Jamestown Rebels are re-entering the east landscape after taking the 2020 season off due to COVID regulations. The currently sit in 2nd place with an impressive 3-1 record and the least amount of losses in the East.
They kicked off their first game in almost 2 years on the wrong side of a 7-0 loss to the Springfield Jr Blues. They also got heavily outshot 14-38. Credit to Joe Combs and his coaching staff however as the Rebels were quick to forget that game and went onto win 3 straight games.
They picked up a 4-1 win over the new North Iowa Bulls lead by 33/34 stops from Nolan Suggs. Suggs would then backstop them in game 3 to a 5-3 win over the Lone Star Brahmas who are also from the so called “ dirty “ south and got a dominate 2 goal and 2 assist performance from Emerick Nadeau.
Day 4 was a nail bitter for the Rebels as they were able to get a late goal from Owen West which was his 3rd of the season for the 3-2 win. The Rebels face off against the New Jersey Titans on September 24th in their first game back at Northwest Arena.
The Northeast Generals got off to a hot start before headed to Minnesota with 2 wins against the Danbury Hat tricks to kick off their season back on September 8th for opening night of the NAHL. The Generals missed out on the playoffs last season and actually ended their season against the Hat Tricks. They currently sit in 3rd at .500 3-3.
Carson Limesand who is off to an impressive start this season backstopped them with 43/44 stops in a 3-1 win. Limesand who we can expect to see start multiple games in a row much as we saw Hugo Hass last year do for Brian Erickson once again had a great game in the cage with 52/54 saves. They also would get 2 goals from 2 year General David Andreychuk. The showcase and the long travel weren’t enough to keep the Generals at bay as Limesand and the Gens tamed the Bismarck Bobcats in a 3-2 win.
A Bobcat wasn’t enough to beat the Generals but an Ice Wolf was as the Generals were up 1-0 headed into the 3rd period but a shorthanded goal proved to be the game winner in the Gens first loss of the season 3-1.
The Generals would face last years mid-west champs in the Minnesota magicians for day 3. They were locked in a game that had pretty much everything in it but the Generals would allow the Magicians to go on the power play a total of 7 times, luckily only giving up 1 goal but the Magicians top player last season in Hunter Longhi would rack up 4 points with 2 goals including the game winner for a 5-4 victory.
The Generals would then take on the brand new Amarillo Wranglers looking to get back to Attleboro with a win. They found themselves down 4-3 headed into the 3rd but even a chance on the power play wasn’t enough to tie it. Former Maine Nordiques goaltender Marco Duronio who picked up a win against the gens with 38 stops on 40 shots would improve to 2-0 all time against them with 29/32 shots. His team got outshot by the Generals 32-24. The Generals play their first game in Attleboro against the Tomahawks at the New England sports village on the 24th.
The Johnstown Tomahawks opened up their season with a tough task taking on the NAHL’s Robertson cup runners up in the Aberdeen Wings. Johnstown is looking to pick up where it left off in the regular season as they feel cheated out of a deep playoff run for the past 2 years, back in 2019-2020 there were no playoffs and last season getting upset in 5 games by the Maryland Black Bears. They also currently sit at .500 at 2-2 and are tied with the Nordiques and for 4th place.
This season It took only 23 seconds to see their first goal of the season off the stick of Jacob Badal. The Wings however would get 3 straight goals to come away with a 4-3 win.
Day 2 of the showcase had the Hawks coming up just short against the Kenai River Brown Bears despite outshooting the Bears 32-19. They had 6 power play chances but only got 1 goal to show for it in this one as Nathan Dickey and the Bears came out with a 2-1 win.
Day 3 of the showcase had the Hawks get in the win column. NAHL veteran Sam “ Salvatore “ Evola stopped 34/35 shots against the Minesoda Wilderness and the Hawks who didn’t get much help from the Power Play on day 2 would get a perfect docket from their PK unit who went 7/7.
Day 4 had the Hawks on the edge of their seat as the brand new Anchorage Ice Wolves were up by 1 with less than 2 minutes to go. Jacob Badal however had other ideas as he would tie the game to force OT. Johnny Ulicny would then win the game for the Hawks with 24 seconds left in OT to pull them back to .500 on the season. They take on the Generals on the 24th to start their in division play.
The reigning beast of the east and last years east division champion Maine Nordiques started their season in the same place it ended- Blaine Minnesota.
The Nordiques got their first goal of the season in 2004 birth year player Zion Green ( who is the brother of all time leading scorer for the Nordiques Cannon Green ) on the power play. But that would be all they got as the Ice Dogs heavily outshot the Nords 40-28 and used a strong defensive 2nd and 3rd period with a goal in each period for a 4-1 win.
Day 2 had the Nords facing the Bismarck Bobcats and the Nords recording their first win of the season. They got 3 assist from 2 year Nordique and D1 commit Reese Farrell and 33/35 stops from the Army West Point commit Rookie goaltender Gus Holt with their power play going 3/4 in a 5-2 dominating win.
Day 3 had the Nords taking on the Brown Bears. The Nords would get another great showing offensively from Reese Farrell with 2 goals in addition to 2 assist from the Sacred Hart commit Aidan Connolly for a 3-2 win against the Kenai River Brown Bears.
The Nords looked to get out of Minnesota with a 3-1 record against the El Passo Rhinos but the Nords would go 0/4 on the power play and the Rhinos would get a late goal for the 3-2 win. On a bright note the Nords PK went 6/6.
The Nords have the East’s best power play at 45% but rank 2nd to last on the PK at 66%. They take on the Black Bears at Piney Orchard arena to start their in division play.
The New Jersey Titans are off to a slow start and sit in 6thplace with a 2-4 record. They kicked off the season against the Maryland Black Bears with a 5-0 loss but then would follow up with a 4-3 OT win on an unassisted goal from Brandon Avezov.
They would start their showcase against the new Amarillo Wranglers. Brandon Avezov kicked off the game with a goal but Kristaps Skrastins 4 goals were enough to put the Wranglers on the winning side of a 5-2 score.
The Titans would then flip the scrip however and win their game on day 2 of the showcase 5-2 against the Chippewa Steel. Brandon Avezov continued to light it up for the Titans with 2 goals. The Titans would then have a game to forget as they would get heavily outshot 13-38 by the south division leading Austin Bruins and going 0/6 on the power play. Ben Charette however was a bright spot for them as he made some key stops to keep the score a little more respectable. The last and final day of the showcase was another game that the Titans will use to build off of as 4 straight goals from the Warriors and another minute showing from the titans man advantage who would go 1/7 ended on the losing side of a 5-2 decision.
The Danbury Hat Tricks are in their 2nd season in the NAHL and wanted to replicate that hot start they got off to before their season was put on a near 3 month hiatus but haven’t clicked yet and are 1-4-1 which is last in the east. They started their season with 2 straight losses to the Generals, 3-1 on night 1 and 6-2 on night 2. Their showcase started off well in the first period only down 1-0 after the first 20 but then would collapse and fall 8-1 to the St Cloud Norsemen. The Hat Tricks had a good showing in day 2 and were close to getting their first points of the season but the Anchorage Wolverines would get a late goal in Jackson krock and defeat the Hat Tricks 2-1. Day 3 did have the Tricks picking up their first point of the season due to the game going to OT, but would still fall 2-1 to the Fairbanks Ice Dogs. Billy McCreary and the Hat Tricks however weren’t going home empty handed. The 4th and final day of the showcase didn’t start off too well for the Tricks as they were down 1-0 after the first 20 but would get 3 straight goals and 23/24 stops from Adam Johnson for a 3-1 win despite being heavily outshot 13-24. The Hat Tricks have to wait before their next game but it will be on October 1st and 2nd for the Maine Nordiques home opener at The Colisee.
After the first few weeks of the season it definitely has been an interesting showcase and the standings are very intriguing thus far. We will see if the Rebels and Black Bears keep it going and if the Titans and Hat Tricks can turn it around.
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