For the fourth straight week, the #1 ranked team in the North American Hockey League got knocked off the top of the heap.
Last week’s #1, the Austin Bruins, managed to pick up a single point in their weekend pair of games at Minot.
Will this week’s top ranked team be able to dodge the curse?
#1 – New Mexico Ice Wolves 7-2-1-0 (.750) Phil Fox’s Wolves are 3-0-1-0 so far in the first four of eleven straight home games at Outpost Ice Arenas. Can New Mexico break the cycle and find success at home this weekend against Wichita Falls or will they be the fifth straight team to fall off the top of this list?
#2 – Amarillo Wranglers 9-3-0-0 (.750) Amarillo has wins in four-straight games, all on the road after the road sweep at Lone Star. The Wranglers are off this week before facing Shreveport November 5-6.
B (.600 to .724)
#3 – Minnesota Wilderness 8-3-1-0 (.708) Dave Boitz is feeling pretty good about himself after single handedly sweeping the Janesville Jets at home. Thursday’s game is at Chippewa before facing the Blues in Springfield Friday and Saturday.
#4 – Odessa Jackalopes 9-4-0-0 (.692) Scott Deur’s Jackalopes picked up three of a possible four points in their road split at now #1 New Mexico. Their 9-4 start to the season is amazing considering that they will be playing the season’s first home games this week when rival Lone Star visits for three nights. It’s going to be a party!
#5 – Austin Bruins 8-3-1-1 (.692) I don’t care what Steve Howard says, his Bruins getting swept at Minot is not my fault. Carrying that #1 flag on the road is never going to be a cakewalk and it’s understandable that opponents might try to use that to help motivate the boys. So now that the egos are a little bruised, what can we expect from this weekend’s visit to Aberdeen?
#6 – Fairbanks Ice Dogs 9-4-0-1 (.708) Trevor Stewart’s Ice Dogs have let both Chippewa and Springfield get out of town with wins in the last two weeks. That’s alarming considering all the advantages Fairbanks has at home. They visit their second home this weekend; Kenai River.
#7 – Maryland Black Bears 10-4-1-1 (.688) Clint Mylymok’s Bears have wins in seven of their last ten games after the weekend home split with the Generals. Nothing less than a sweep at Danbury would be acceptable this weekend.
#8 – Springfield Blues 10-5-0-0 (.667) Tyler Rennette’s Blues won two of the five games they played in Alaska against Anchorage and Fairbanks. That’s a respectable outcome. The next four games are at home before Springfield goes back to Alaska. The Wilderness visit this weekend.
#9 – St. Cloud Norsemen 6-3-0-0 (.667) Corey Millen and the Norsemen are at a point where the split at Bismarck is a bit of a disappointment. That’s going to happen when expectations are raised. This weekend’s home set with Minot is very important for St. Cloud because it can help set the stage for the remainder of the season.
#10 – North Iowa Bulls 8-4-0-2 (.643) Did Todd Sanden really build a house of cards? The Bulls did not look good in Friday’s 5-2 loss at Aberdeen and did a little better in Saturday’s shootout loss. Still, the expectations in Mason City are much higher. The Bulls have this weekend off before Bismarck visits November 5-6.
#11 – Anchorage Wolverines 7-4-1-0 (.636) Mike Aikens’ crew got the chance to fine tune their game during the off week in preparation of struggling Janesville’s visit this week. Aikens and his staff know better than to take ANY team on the schedule lightly and will be dialed in for the Jets.
#12 – Minnesota Magicians 8-5-1-0 (.607) Nick Bydal’s Magicians should be well rested after the weekend off. They will have a bit of an advantage against Chippewa Saturday night after the Steel host the Wilderness Thursday.
C (.475 to .599)
#13 – New Jersey Titans 9-6-1-0 (.594) Craig Doremus is at the helm of one of the league’s hottest teams right now after the weekend dismantling of the Nordiques. Before getting too excited, let’s see how this week goes at Johnstown.
#14 – Aberdeen Wings 7-5-0-0 (.583) Steve Jennings is starting to make a believer out of me. The home sweep of the Bulls was enjoyable to see. Owner Greg Odde is one of the league’s best and certainly deserves to see his team’s run of success continue. Will that happen this weekend when Austin visits? A split would be considered another step in the right direction.
#15 – Johnstown Tomahawks 7-5-1-0 (.577) Dozens of fans in Danbury witnessed Mike Letizia and the Tommies pick up three-points in their road split with the Hat Tricks. Red hot New Jersey hits the War Memorial this weekend with bad intentions. Can Johnstown put out that fire?
#16 – Wichita Falls Warriors 6-5-1-0 (.542) Garrett Roth’s Warriors were all jacked up to face the rival Mudbugs last week, only to having to postpone the weekend’s games due to an ice plant problem. This week’s trip to top-ranked New Mexico could be eventful if history repeats itself.
#17 – Northeast Generals 8-8-0-0 (.500) Bryan Erikson’s Gens picked up a valuable split at Maryland to remain at .500. After this weekend off, the bus rolls to the far northwest corner of New York for a weekend at Jamestown.
#18 – Chippewa Steel 8-8-0-0 (.500) Casey Mignone is a serious coaching talent. Getting a big win at Fairbanks and then taking two of three games at Kenai River brings the Steel back to .500. Now the real fun begins. The Wilderness visit Thursday before the Magicians come to town two nights later.
#19 – Shreveport Mudbugs 4-4-1-1 (.500) Jason Campbell’s Mudbugs weekend in Wichita Falls ended before it even got started due to ice plant issues in the building. The bus rolls south to Corpus Christi this weekend for two games against the IceRays.
#20 – Jamestown Rebels 5-5-1-1 (.500) Joe Coombs’ Rebels enjoyed a bit of time-off before this weekend’s trek to Maine to face a Nordiques team looking to get back on track.
D (.350 to .474)
#21 – Minot Minotauros 6-7-1 (.464) Don’t look now but Cody Campbell’s are winners in three-straight games after sweeping previously top-ranked Austin at home. Will the streak continue this weekend in St. Cloud?
#22 – El Paso Rhinos 5-6-1-0 (.458) Anthony Bohn’s Rhinos swept Corpus in a series that gave El Paso fans exactly what they expected from their zoo animals in the first game. Saturday’s matchup was calmer on paper, but the Rhinos continued to display much of the same behind the play antics that chased eight teams from the Western States Hockey League a few years back. Odessa returns November 5-6.
#23 – Lone Star Brahmas 4-5-2-1 (.458) Dan Wildfong is NEVER going to be happy when his Brahmas lose at home, but things get complicated when that team is from Amarillo. Nope, that was not good. Lone Star goes out to Odessa this weekend for a trio of games.
#24 – Maine Nordiques 5-7-0-0 (.417) Nolan Howe must have been one hot potato after Friday’s embarrassing 12-5 loss in New Jersey. Things were closer (4-1) in Saturday’s loss but there must be a ton of concern. Let’s see if the Nords get things figured out before Jamestown visits this weekend.
#25 – Corpus Christi IceRays 4-7-2-0 (.385) Mike Lysyj’s IceRays were swept at El Paso and return home to host the Mudbugs this weekend. Now winless in the last six games, it’s clear that it’s time to start bringing in some veterans to turn this season around.
F (.000 to .349)
#26 – Danbury Hat Tricks 3-8-2-0 (.308) Just one look at Danbury’s attendance numbers and it’s very clear that head coach Billy McCreary could be in trouble. Less than 300 fans have been to the NAHL team’s games through the first five games. That’s not good. The Tricks picked up a single point in their weekend home series with Johnstown where there were more players on the bench than butts in the seats watching them play. Maryland visits this week. Here’s a challenge for Danbury; force the (sorta) pro team to scrimmage the NAHL team with USA Hockey rules. Loser has to move to Virginia. Maybe those once smarter hockey fans might actually see the difference in level of play for themselves.
#27 – Janesville Jets 3-8-0-1 (.292) It’s going to be difficult for Parker Burgess and his staff to identify many positives after getting swept out of Minnesota by the Wilderness. Winners in just two of their last ten games, now is not the best time to be travelling to Alaska. The Jets face Anchorage this weekend before going further north to Fairbanks November 4-6.
#28 – Bismarck Bobcats 3-10-1-0 (.250) It looks like Layne Sedevie’s Bobcats are starting to come alive after picking up three points in the weekend pair of home games with St. Cloud. Bismarck gets this weekend off to prepare to visit North Iowa November 5-6.
#29 – Kenai River Brown Bears 2-11-0-0 (.154) Josh Dubinsky and the Bears dropped two of three at home against Chippewa over the weekend. Fairbanks hits the Peninsula this weekend for a pair of games. It’s clear that the same old story continues to repeat itself on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula.