It’s beginning to look like North American Hockey League teams are not too excited about holding onto the top spot this early in the season. This week St. Cloud steps aside to make way for the Springfield Blues.
Let’s see where the rest of the crew sits this week.
#1 – Springfield Blues 8-2-0-0 (.800) Tyler Rennette’s Blues are the hottest team in the league with eight wins in their first ten games. The road sweep at Chippewa was a nice little diversion before heading up to Alaska to face the Anchorage Wolverines this weekend and Fairbanks the next. Will we see the Blues that dominated Jamestown or that other group that got shutout a week or so back by the Magicians? I’m sorry Springfield fans, but this Alaska trip could result in a serious nosedive from the top of the heap.
#2 – Fairbanks Ice Dogs 7-2-0-1 (.750) Let’s be real here; Trevor Stewart’s Ice Dogs are a United States Hockey League team dressed up as an NAHL club. Because of the limitless number of 20 year-olds, I would not bet against the Ice Dogs in any series against any USHL team. They are ALWAYS just that good. Fairbanks is a financial juggernaut that cannot be very happy about that pesky new team in Anchorage threatening their dominance of Alaska. Giving up any points to Chippewa this weekend would be a disappointment. Now, can this Ice Dogs group live up to the challenge?
#3 – North Iowa Bulls 7-2-0-1 (.750) I’m still not convinced that Todd Sanden’s Bulls are as good as their record indicates. The Bulls took the first two of four straight games against a below average Minot team on the road and should be in good shape for this weekend’s home series with Minot. The reality is that the next six games are winnable, but the success will also overinflate egos before the next battle with Austin November 12-13. It’s like trying to build a ten-story beachfront condo building over the sand with a lowbidder.com foundation.
B (.600 to .724)
#4 – Austin Bruins 6-2-1-0 (.722) Steve Howard’s Bruins found an extra gear in the third period of their game at St. Cloud Friday night, tallying four times to snag the road win. The big question is if the Bruins can put together six complete periods against the visiting Bobcats this weekend. If they can, look for the Bruins to continue their climb up this list.
#5 – St. Cloud Norsemen 5-2-0-0 (.714) Corey Millen and the Norse were flying high going into the third period of Friday night’s game with a 2-1 lead against visiting Austin. That’s when the wheels fell off the then top-ranked team’s bus. St. Cloud surrendered four goals to lose the game 5-3. St. Cloud now has this weekend off and should be well prepared to visit Bismarck October 22-23.
#6 – Minnesota Wilderness 5-2-1-0 (.688) Dave Boitz is already alienating his locker room and the frustration may boil over this weekend. And it did not take long to fester. That’s going to happen when the coach runs all over town taking credit for his team’s early success. Meanwhile, whenever the little guy leaves the room, it’s difficult for most the players to suppress the laughter. This weekend’s home-and-home set with the Magicians will be fun to watch. Hey HockeyTV, can we pay extra for a BoitzCam?
#7 – Maryland Black Bears 5-3-1-1 (.667) Clint Mylymok’s Bears’ sweep of the visiting Generals will certainly be looked back on throughout the remainder of the season. Getting a similar result at Jamestown will be the expectation and not just something to hope for. That’s where this club is now, at a level where success is now the norm.
#8 – Odessa Jackalopes 6-3-0-0 (.667) Scott Deur’s Jackalopes keep finding ways to get the job done. Their 5-2 win at Corpus Sunday was their fourth win in the last five games and certainly sets the stage for their showdown with the Rhinos this weekend in El Paso.
#9 – New Mexico Ice Wolves 4-2-0-0 (.667) Phil Fox and his Ice Wolves will try and erase the unpleasant memories from Saturday night’s shutout loss at Lone Star to focus on the IceRays’ visit to Outpost Ice Arena this weekend. These are the first of eleven consecutive home games for New Mexico.
#10 – Maine Nordiques 5-3-0-0 (.625) Nolan Howe’s Nords should be well prepared for this weekend’s set at Johnstown. Look for Maine to try and establish themselves early in Friday’s game and carry that momentum through the weekend.
#11 – Amarillo Wranglers 5-3-0-0 (.625) Harry Mahood’s Wranglers kind of remind us of a 20 year-old that snuck into a strip club for the first time. One minute he appears to have their game on point and the next he’s curled up in a corner with the house girilla. The Wranglers have had plenty of time to get it together before the easy bus trip to Shreveport for this weekend.
#12 – Anchorage Wolverines 5-3-1-0 (.611) Mike Aikens’ and the Wolverines are rested and ready for this weekend’s home debut against the top ranked Blues. Getting a big result would certainly set the stage for a big opening season of Wolverines hockey.
C (.475 to .599)
#13 – Minnesota Magicians 7-5-0-0 (.583) Nick Bydal’s Magicians are proving to be a bit inconsistent in their last two series against the Blues and Jets. Nothing would put a bigger smile on my face this weekend than seeing Bydal’s crew put a double beat down on Dave Boitz and company.
#14 – Shreveport Mudbugs 4-3-1-0 (.563) Jason Campbell’s Bugs have wins in three of their first four games against south division opponents after the slow start at the showcase. Personally, I’m hoping for the streak to continue this week when Dirty Harry brings his Wranglers to town.
#15 – Wichita Falls Warriors 5-4-1 (.550) Garrett Roth’s Warriors split the weekend series at Corpus Christi and are now getting ready for the un-civil war with Lone Star that starts this weekend. Look for a nasty affair whenever these two teams faceoff against one another.
#16 – Jamestown Rebels 5-4-0-1 (.550) Joe Coombs’ Rebels dropped a close one in Danbury Friday night before picking up the split with an overtime win Saturday. A very dangerous Maryland team visits Northwest Arena this weekend.
#17 – Northeast Generals 6-6-0-0 (.500) Bryan Erikson’s Generals got mulled by the Black Bears in their weekend set in Maryland. New Jersey visits, for the first time of the season, this weekend.
#18 – Aberdeen Wings 4-4-0-0 (.500) Steve Jennings’ Wings were beaten by the Bobcats in Bismarck Saturday, further proving themselves to be a shell of the team under Scott Langer’s regime. Winners in just one of the last four games, the Wings must get back on the right path. They have this weekend off before hosting North Iowa for the first time on the 22nd and 23rd.
#19 – Lone Star Brahmas 3-3-2-0 (.500) Dan Wildfong’s Brahmas let the Ice Wolves get away with a 6-3 win Friday night before shutting out New Mexico 4-0 Saturday. The war with Wichita Falls resumes this weekend at the Kay Yeager.
D (.350 to .474)
#20 – New Jersey Titans 5-6-0-0 (.455) Craig Doremus and the Titans got rolled 7-1 by Johnstown Friday at home before rebounding with a solid 3-1 win over the Tomahawks Saturday. The first roadie of the season to Boston should be exciting.
#21 – Chippewa Steel 5-6-0-0 (.455) Casey Mignone’s Steel have dropped four straight games after being swept at home by now top ranked Springfield. The next five games are in Alaska starting with this weekend’s visit to sunny Fairbanks.
#22 – Johnstown Tomahawks 4-5-0-0 (.444) Mike Letizia’s Tomahawks unleased on the Titans Friday with a big 7-1 win. So, what happened in Sunday’s 3-1 loss to the same team? The Nordiques visit War Memorial this weekend. Now the question is which Tomahawks team is going to show up?
#23 – Corpus Christi IceRays 4-5-0-0 (.444) Mike Lysyj and the Rays looked like they ran out of gas in the Saturday night 3-1 loss to Wichita Falls. That reality was certainly evident when the fresh-legged Jackalopes skated away with a 5-2 win.
#24 – El Paso Rhinos 3-5-0-0 (.375) Anthony Bohn’s Brahmas have now dropped their first four games of south division play after getting swept at Shreveport. Look for a completely different style of play when they host Odessa in the first NAHL games in El Paso this weekend.
#25 – Janesville Jets 3-6-0-1 (.350) Parker Burgess and the Jets picked up a huge result Saturday night in Minnesota with the 6-3 win over the Magicians. Now the Jets can rest a bit before going back to face the Wilderness October 22-23.
#26 – Minot Minotauros 3-6-1 (.350) Cody Campbell’s Minotauros were manhandled a bit while getting swept at home by the Bulls. Let’s see what kind of adjustments are made this week before the boys head to Iowa for another chance against the Bulls.
F (.000 to .349)
#27 – Danbury Hat Tricks 2-6-2-0 (.250) Billy McCreary’s Hat Tricks picked up three of a possible four points in the weekend home split with Jamestown. Danbury is off until October 20th when they host New Jersey.
#28 – Bismarck Bobcats 2-8-0-0 (.300) Layne Sedevie’s Bobcats picked up their second win of the season Saturday night and salvaged the weekend series with rival Aberdeen. As the team looks like they are starting to come together, the big road trip to Austin this weekend should be a huge test.
#29 – Kenai River Brown Bears 1-9-0-0 (.100) The good news is that Josh Dubinsky’s Bears have not lost a game since October 2nd and they have another ten days to prepare for the rematch against the Chippewa Steel after losing two in Wisconsin to open the season. The bad news is the rest of the story and it’s not the coach’s fault. The management of this team kind of reminds us of the first Major League movie. It’s as if the goal is for the team to serve as free points for the Fairbanks Ice Dogs. Once again, because of the inaction of management and a focus on big numbers at camps instead of trying to get talent, I’m not sure how this Brown Bears team would fare in the NA3HL.