NAHL Report

For the fifth straight week, the previous week’s top ranked team in the North American Hockey League is unable to hold onto the position.

Last week’s #1, New Mexico, won Friday night’s home game 6-2 over Wichita Falls before getting beat by the Warriors 5-3 on Saturday.

Amarillo takes command of the top spot this week. Will Dirty Harry’s crew be able to break the curse?

A (.725+)

#1 – Amarillo Wranglers 9-3-0-0 (.750) Amarillo is riding a four-game winning streak onto the top of this week’s ranking. Congratulations to a team’s job well done.  The Wranglers’ road sweeps of Shreveport and Lone Star on back-to-back weekend was epic. After a week off, Amarillo hosts the Mudbugs Friday and Saturday before running out the New Mexico to face the Ice Wolves on Sunday. Will Amarillo be the firs team to hold onto the top spot for two consecutive weeks?

#2 – Austin Bruins 10-3-1-1 (.733) Steve Howard’s Bruins took care of business at Aberdeen and are now preparing for the home-and-home set with the Norsemen this weekend. Winners of six in their last ten games, look for the Bruins remain one of the league’s top teams for the duration of the season.

B (.600 to .724)

#3 – Maryland Black Bears 12-4-1-1 (.722) Clint Mylymok’s Bears are crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s the old-fashioned way, with very hard work. Maryland broke out the lunch boxes for the weekend road sweep at Danbury. A highly stressed Maine team visits Piney Orchard Ice Arena this week.

#4 – Fairbanks Ice Dogs 11-4-0-1 (.719) Trevor Stewart’s Ice Dogs continue to climb this list after getting the road sweep at Kenai River. The question now is very simple; can Fairbanks not let up when Janesville visits for three games this week?

#5 – New Mexico Ice Wolves 8-3-1-0 (.708) Phil Fox’s Ice Wolves should be a bit embarrassed after Saturday night’s home loss against Wichita Falls. This weekend’s trip of home games against Corpus Christi (November 5-6) and top ranked Amarillo (November 7) should give the Wolves plenty of opportunities to redeem themselves.  

#6 – Anchorage Wolverines 9-4-1-0 (.679) Mike Aikens’ Wolverines picked up a fairly easy home sweep of visiting Janesville. The very first trip to Soldotna to face the Brown Bears will be interesting considering all the logistical problems Kenai River is already dealing with this season. Look for the first battle of this rivalry to get ugly very quickly.

#7 – Springfield Blues 11-5-0-1 (.676) Tyler Rennette’s Blues pulled three of a possible four points from the weekend split with the Wilderness. After proving the ability to play with the league’s best teams, having a letdown against a team they are supposed to be better than is unacceptable.

#8 – Odessa Jackalopes 10-5-0-0 (.656) Scott Deur’s Jackalopes picked up three of a possible six points while losing two of three during the weekend home opener with Lone Star. This weeks’ run out to El Paso could prove to be a pivotal moment for the Jackalopes.

#9 – North Iowa Bulls 8-4-0-2 (.643) Todd Sanden must have been grumpy during the off week considering his Bulls have dropped three straight games. The pressure is on North Iowa to get a positive result this weekend at home against a Bismarck suddenly full of confidence again.

#10 – New Jersey Titans 11-6-1-0 (.639) Craig Doremus and the Titans are unbeaten in regulation in the last eight games. In this league, that’s a heck of an accomplishment and that especially true in the competitive east division. I don’t think anyone really expected New Jersey to get a road sweep at Johnstown. Danbury visits this week and there will not be any excuses for letting the Hat Tricks escape New Jersey with a single point.

#11 – St. Cloud Norsemen 7-4-0-0 (.636) Corey Millen and the Norsemen could easily be accused of letting up a bit in Saturday’s home loss to Bismarck. That will not happen in the regional battle with #2 Austin this week.

#12 – Minnesota Magicians 9-5-1-0 (.633) Nick Bydal’s Magicians had two weeks to prepare for Saturday night’s 6-3 road win at Chippewa. A positive result (three points or more) in this week’s civil war with the Wilderness would push the Magicians up this list a bit.

#13 – Minnesota Wilderness 9-5-1-0 (.633) Dave Boitz and the Wilderness ended a three-game slide with Saturday’s shootout win at Springfield. There’s another home-and-home set with the Magicians this weekend will be interesting. Is there any fire beneath the smoke suggesting that assistant Brendan Phelps is ready to take over head coaching duties any day now?

C (.475 to .599)

#14 – Jamestown Rebels 7-5-1-1 (.571) Joe Coombs’ Rebels continue to put in the work needed to get better. While Coombs appears to be an entirely different human being after the season off, this team is playing like a group that has bought in to the Coombs way. The weekend sweep at Maine was impressive but doing the same to the Generals at Northwest Arena would be a gamechanger.

#15 – Wichita Falls Warriors 7-6-1-0 (.536) Garrett Roth’s Warriors knocked New Mexico off the top of the heap on Saturday with their solid 5-3 road win in New Mexico. Let’s hop their arena’s ice plant problems are solved in time for this weekend’s home set with Lone Star.

#16 – Johnstown Tomahawks 7-6-1-1 (.533) Mike Letizia’s Tomahawks have a welcomed off weekend coming up after getting swept at home by New Jersey. The Generals visit November 12-13. This team is talented but also still struggling to find its identity. Until they do, Johnstown is a pretender and not a contender.

#17 – Lone Star Brahmas 6-5-2-1 (.533) Dan Wildfong’s Brahmas picked up five valuable points while spoiling Odessa’s home opening weekend. Lone Star’s unbeaten in regulation streak of four games will be in jeopardy this week in Wichita Falls.

#18 – Aberdeen Wings 7-7-0-0 (.500) Steve Jennings and the Wings were soundly swept at home by now #2 Austin, once again raising questions. The biggest problem is that every team in the division now has the confidence to look at the Wings as potential points. This is not Smack’s Wings, that’s for sure. Jennings must make this team his own and anything less than a trio of points at Minot this week will be a disappointment.

#19 – Northeast Generals 8-8-0-0 (.500) Bryan Erikson’s Generals rocked the #3 Black Bears with Friday night’s 6-3 road win in Maryland. Things did not go their way on Saturday but it is clear that the boys from Boston on well on their way. A week off before going to Jamestown should give the Generals time to heal some injuries.

#20 – Chippewa Steel 9-9-0-0 (.500) Casey Mignone’s Steel looked like world beaters in Thursday’s take down of the Wilderness but facing a Magicians team with fresh legs on Saturday proved to be a bit too much.  Chippewa heads down to Illinois this week to face the Blues in Springfield.

#21 – Shreveport Mudbugs 5-5-1-1 (.500) Jason Campbell’s Mudbugs looked a lot like their old selves in Saturday’s epic 4-1 win at Corpus Christi. Getting a win at Amarillo is going to take something special, but that’s something the ‘Bugs have had every year since joining the NAHL. Bug fans will be burning for a road sweep.

D (.350 to .474)

#22 – Minot Minotauros 7-8-1 (.464) Cody Campbell’s ‘Tauros came back from Friday’s tough road loss at St. Cloud with a solid 5-4 win on Saturday. Now just a single game under .500 going into this week’s home battle with Aberdeen, Minot appears to be on the right track.

#23 – El Paso Rhinos 5-6-1-0 (.458) Anthony Bohn’s Rhinos took Halloween weekend off and will be hosting Odessa for the second time this weekend. Winners in three of the last ten games, but two of those wins took place in the last three games. So, does that mean El Paso is going to figure this NA thing out after all? Let’s see how this weekend turns out.

#24 – Corpus Christi IceRays 5-8-2-0 (.400) Mike Lysyj’s IceRays are slipping, but not in an all-out free-fall. Friday night’s home win over the Mudbugs could have been a turning point if not for the 4-1 dud on Saturday. The bus rolls west to Albuquerque this week for another pair of games against the Ice Wolves.

#25 – Maine Nordiques 5-8-0-1 (.393) Nolan Howe’s Nords have just a trio of wins in the last ten games, there’s no way to sugarcoat that fact. Yet, Maine is just three games under .500 with plenty of time to get things back on track. The next four games are all against the Black Bears starting this weekend in Maryland, so getting points is not going to be easy. It’s not time to panic, yet.  

F (.000 to .349)

#26 – Danbury Hat Tricks 3-9-3-0 (.300) Billy McCreary’s Tricks were swept at home by Maryland but did manage to pick up a point in Friday’s overtime loss. This weekend’s trip to New Jersey may not be so enjoyable.

#27 – Bismarck Bobcats 3-10-1-0 (.250) Layne Sedevie’s Bobcats are coming off a bye week after their success in their last weekend at home against St. Cloud. Bismarck ventures into Mason City for the first time this week to face the Bulls.  

#28 – Janesville Jets 3-10-0-1 (.250) Parker Burgess and the Jets have been grounded in four straight games and have just a pair of wins in the last ten. Janesville was feisty in their battle with Anchorage but was unable to pick up any points for the effort. Patience is the key here considering this weekend’s three-game set at #4 Fairbanks.

#29 – Kenai River Brown Bears 2-13-0-0 (.133) Josh Dubinsky and the Bears have just a single win in their last ten games after getting swept at home by Fairbanks. Yes, getting beat by Fairbanks is a time-honored tradition for Kenai River. The next four games are all against the new Anchorage Wolverines and promises to be another heated rivalry. It’s just too bad Dubinsky was not able to shop from the same market as Anchorage when it came to acquiring talent for this year’s team. Bag skating the boys for 45 minutes after the game Saturday night was bush league at best and proved to everyone in the game that the coach is in way over his head. Until the upper management of this club changes, holding up the rest of the NAHL on this list is inevitable. Somebody call Jeff Worlton.