As we enter the second weekend of the NAHL Divisional Playoffs lets take a look at what has transpired so far and what is yet to come.
NAHL North Division
The two Wild Card series were completed setting the four teams competing for the division title. In the first the Kalamazoo K-Wings rather easily dispatched the Springfield Jr Blues by scores of 7-1 and 6-0. In the second the Port Huron Fighting Falcons and Johnstown Tomahawks went the full three games and then some before determining a winner. Port Huron won the first game 3-0, but Johnstown returned the favor shutting out the Falcons in game two 2-0. The third and deciding game was played in Johnstown and went to overtime before Port Huron pulled it out. The Tomahawks took a 3-1 lead at 8:45 in the third on a Mitch Kontny goal, but Port Huron refused to roll over. Just four minutes after the Kontny goal, Rick DeRosa netted a power play goal to pull the Falcons to within one. With time winding down and their season on the line Brett DAndrea struck for an extra attacker goal at 19:25 sending the game to overtime where Ian Miller scored unassisted at 3:28 of the extra period to give Port Huron the come from behind series win.
Jamestown vs. Kalamazoo
Kalamazoo now advances to face the Jamestown Iron Men. While the Iron Men won the season series 6-2-0 against Kalamazoo it was not a cake walk. Four of the eight games went to either overtime or a shoot out with Jamestown taking the win in all four. Only one game in the series was decided by more than a two goal margin, that being an early season 7-3 win by the Iron Men at home.
Evan Ritt, Tyler Dunagan and Luc Gerdes each had three goals against Kalamazoo on the season. In goal Reid Mimmack set the pace for the Iron Men before departing early for Bemidji State University. Mimmack was 4-0-0 against Kalamazoo. Tim Shaughnessy and Joe Ballmer are a combined 2-2-0 with a 1.97GAA and a .938SV%. Shaughnessy was replaced late in the season by Blake Wojtala who has yet to face Kalamazoo.
The K-Wing offense was led by Danny Hamburg’s four goals with Robbie Payne contributing three goals. Alex Okicki and Marcus Due-Boje shared time between the pipes for Kalamazoo posting a 3.00GAA and .916SV% in the season series. Due-Boje got both starts in the Wild Card series and put up a miniscule 0.50GAA and .978SV%.
Soo vs. Port Huron
The Soo Eagles finished the season 5-1-2 against Port Huron in another tight matchup. Three of the eight games went to a shootout and the total goal differential on the season was only two goals. Tyler Marble was joined by Paige Skoog in net following a mid season trade. The pair teamed up for a 4-1-1 record against the Falcons on a 2.34GAA and a .944SV%. Brandon Adams and Eric Rivard each potted three goals in the season series. The Eagles were 4-22 on the power play.
For Port Huron Brett DAndrea and Tyler Spezia scored three goals each. DAndrea and Rick DeRosa were +6 against the Eagles in the eight games. Max Milosek and Alex Blankenburg had a 3-4-1 record against the Soo with a 2.88GAA and .912SV%. One area where the Falcons stumbled against the Eagles was on special teams where they were only 1-25 on the power play.
NAHL Central Division
Austin vs. Minot
In the Austin Bruins last ten regular season games they got some offensive firepower from Jay Dickman (6G-7A), AJ Reid (7G-4A) and CJ Smith (6G-4A) to go along with decent goal tending to post a 6-3-1 record. Nicholas Lehr and Jason Pawloski each played five games in net with both logging 3 wins. Pawloski had the better numbers of the two with a 1.80GAA and .944SV% compared to Lehr’s 2.41GAA and .904SV%.
The Minot Minotauros stumbled out of the gate losing their first seven and 11 of their first 13. The Minotauros rebounded for a strong mid season before struggling again late going just 2-8-0 to close out the season. Minot managed to hold off Aberdeen who made a late season 9-1-0 run at the fourth playoff spot. Minot scored 18 goals over the last ten games while allowing 38. Lucas Oliver (4G-1A), Jake McCann (3G-1A) and Matt Audette (2G-2A) were the only multi goal scorers. Ryan Ruck picked up both wins over the last ten posting a 2-4-0 record to go along with a 3.45GAA and .909SV%.
This was a very tight match up all season. Austin came out on top of the battle finishing 5-1-4 against Minot with a total of five games decided in a shootout, and the Minotauros prevailing in 4 of those 5 games. Austin’s Smith with 10 points was the only double digit scorer in the series. Minot was led by Steven Sherman’s (2G-4A) six points. On the season Pawloski was 4-0-0 against Minot with three shutouts, a 0.73GAA and an unheard of .973SV%. Lehr put up some impressive numbers himself despite his 1-1-4 record. Lehr finished with a 1.74GAA and a .930SV%. Tyler Parks played the majority of minutes for the Minotauros against Austin finishing at 4-2-1 with a shutout and a 2.46GAA on a .921SV%. Austin nearly doubled up Minot’s output on the powerplay netting eight goals on 41 opportunities for 19.5% while Minot only managed five goals on 48 attempts for 10.4%
Bismarck vs. Brookings
Bismarck finished strong pulling points out of each of their final ten games going 7-0-3. The Bobcats averaged 4.1 goals a game while holding their opponents to 2 goals per game. Aaron Nelson used a 2.25GAA and .907SV% to go 4-0-2 while Bryan Nies was 3-0-1 with a 1.00GAA and .958SV%. Offensively, Bismarck had a fairly balanced attack with eight players scoring eight or more points. Nate Repensky (4G-12A) and Filip Starzynski (1G-10A) led in points while Matt Pohlkamp and Evan Giesler had six goals apiece.
Brookings’ final ten games saw them go 5-5-0. Drew Weigman recorded the decision in all ten games playing all but 71 minutes in net. Weigman compiled a 3.49GAA and .899SV% while Chase Wilson put up 1.69GAA and .920SV% in his limited time. Aidan Cavallini (4G-1A) led the Blizzard in goals scored over the final ten games and Justin Moody (2G-7A) headed up the offense with his 9 points. Brookings was 20-9-1 at home this season, but their road record was 12-14-4.
The head-to-head match up saw Bismarck go 5-3-2 against Brookings due in great part to strong goal tender play as the offense generated only 26 goals in the ten meetings. Nelson was 4-2-2 with two shutouts while Nies was 1-1-0. The two combined for a 1.90GAA and .942SV% against the Blizzard. Bismarck had five players register three goals apiece against Brookings. Weigman was in net for Brookings in 8 of the 10 games against Bismarck generating a 5-1-0 record with two shutouts, a 2.02GAA and a .941SV%. Weigman received little support from an offense that scored only 19 goals. Eric Brenk (3G-3A) and Moody (1G-5A) were the only players with more than five points against the Bobcats. The special teams numbers were nearly identical in the series with Bismarck converting 7 of 47 opportunities while Brookings was 7 for 46.
NAHL South Division
Amarillo vs.Corpus Christi
The Corpus Christi Icerays finished fourth in the division 37 points behind the Amarillo Bulls, yet the Icerays gave the Bulls fits all season. Corpus Christi could lay claim to five of Amarillo’s 14 total losses on the regular season.
In the opening game of their best of five series, Corpus Christi once again came out on top of Amarillo with a hard fought 2-1 win. However, from there the Bulls took control of the series taking the next three games by scores of 6-3, 5-3 and 5-3. The Icerays continued to make life difficult for the Bulls in the series scoring eight of their 11 goals in the third period, never letting Amarillo coast.
Offensively, Amarillo was led by Hampus Gustafsson and Captain John Rey with three goals each. Paul Berrafato who led all goalies during the regular season with 33 Wins, 1.66GAA and fifth with a .928SV% played all but 40 seconds against Corpus Christi. Berrafato’s numbers slipped to 2.75GAA and .898SV% in the first round series.
Emil Romig, AJ Jarosz, Rudy Sulmonte and Brandon Berkley with two goals each led the way for Corpus Christi. Hayden Stewart and Ben Myers played to a combined 4.25GAA and .900SV%. Steward was in net for the Icerays lone victory.
Amarillo now awaits the winner of the Topeka Roadrunner and Texas Tornado series to decide the South Division representative in the Robertson Cup Tournament.
While the Topeka Roadrunners dominated the regular season meetings running up a record of 7-2-1, the defending National Champion Texas Tornado turned the table on the Roadrunners. Texas went into Landon Arena in Topeka and left holding a commanding two game lead in their best of five series. The Tornado opened with a 2-1 victory on Saturday followed by an identical 2-1 score on Sunday. The series now moves back to Frisco, Texas where the Tornado need only one win in the next three games to earn a shot at Amarillo.
In the two games in Topeka, Tornado goal tender Hunter Leisner has resembled the goalie who led Texas to the Robertson Cup National Championship last season. Leisner is 2-0-0 with a 1.00GAA and .967SV%. The play of the blueliners has been equally as impressive with defensemen clearing rebounds to the boards and giving up the body to block shots. Texas has been outshot in both games, but second chance opportunities have been few and far between. Offensively the Tornado have been led by CJ Reuschlein (2G-0A) who has goals in both contests. Joining Reuschlein with two points each are Max Shuart (1G-1A) and Jason Eddy (0G-2A). The other Tornado to register points in Topeka are Scott Conway (1G-0A) and Alexey Soloviev (0G-1A).
Kyle Sharkey (1G-1A) and Tyler Andrew (1G-1A) are the multi point scorers for the Roadrunners while Kevin Patterson and Sean Gaffney have each contributed an assist. Roadrunners goaltender Spencer Viele must be feeling snake bit against the Tornado in the post season. In four games including last season’s Robertson Cup Tournament games, when he backstopped the St Louis Bandits, Viele has a 2.43GAA and a .910SV% against Texas. However, Viele has only a single overtime win and suffered an overtime defeat in the National Championship Final when Justin Greenberg put a rebound in the back of the net.
NAHL West Division
Wenatchee vs. Fresno
Wenatchee struggled to a 3-7-0 record to end the season and still won the division crown finishing two points ahead of Fairbanks. Chris Kerr (5G-6A) and Max McHugh (5G-5A) were responsible for 21 of the Wild’s 51 points in the final ten. Robert Nichols who was second in the league in wins with 31 on the season, managed just a 2-6-0 record. Nick Schmit had the other two decisions. The Wild had a 3.40GAA and a .871SV% combined.
Fresno played out the schedule to a 3-6-1 record, but ironically were only outscored 34-32 over their last 10 games. Tomas Sholl 3-3-1 and McCauley Haight 0-3-0 combined for a 3.40GAA and a respectable .920SV%. Matt Salituro (4G-3A) and Trevor Husch (3G-4A) led the scoring for the Monsters.
Head-to-Head the series was dominated by Wenatchee as they ran up a record of 12-2-2 against Fresno. The Wild nearly doubled up the Monsters on the season scoring 63 goals toFresno’s 32. There were seven Wenatchee players who registered double digit scoring efforts against Fresno led by McHugh (9G-9A), Kerr (7G-11A) and Jono Davis (8G-9A). Between the pipes Nichols was 8-1-1 while Schmit was 4-1-1, each goalie had a shutout against Fresno. For the Monsters, Husch (5G-6A) and Salituro (6G-4A) accounted for more than one third of Fresno’s goals against Wenatchee. The Wild powerplay finished the series at 18.8% on 12 goals in 64 opportunities. Fresno on the other had had 7 goals on 62 powerplays for 11.3%.
Fairbanks vs. Kenai River
Fairbanks finished their last ten with a record on 6-3-1 as they made a run at Wenatchee for the top spot in the division. Kevin Aldridge and Steve Perry each logged three wins and the pair had a 2.50GAA with a .915SV%. Garret Clemment (6G-6A) was the only Icedogs player to hit double digits in scoring down the stretch as Fairbanks had a fairly balanced attack. Every player on the Fairbanks roster notched at least one point over the last ten with the exception of two defensemen.
Kenai River closed strong at 8-2-0. Evan McCarthy was in net for eight of the decisions running up a 7-1-0 record with one shutout. Three Brown Bear goal tenders combined for a 2.60GAA and .913SV%. The Kenai River offense was as deep as that of their Alaska rivals with scoring from everyone on the roster except for two defensemen. Brad Duwe (4G-6A) and Vincent Stefan (1G-9A) led the scoring and Matt Seidel (6G-2A) led the team in goals scored.
Head-to-head the two Alaska teams saw a lot of each other over the course of the season. Fairbanks 8-6-2 held the slight advantage pulling two more points out of the series than did Kenai River by virtue of the two overtime losses. The goaltender statistics were also very similar, as Fairbanks put up a 2.63GAA with a .907SV% while Kenai River was at a 2.88GAA and a .908SV%. Clemment (8G-6A), Colton Wolter (6G-5A), Kyle Lee (5G-6A) and Devin Loe (5G-6A) were the horsepower behind the Fairbanks offense. Conversely, the Brown Bears had 13 skaters who posted five or more points against the Icedogs. Zac Lazzaro (7G-3A) led the way with Ryan Walker (4G-4A) and Siedel (5G-2A) making significant contributions. Even the special teams seemed to be closely matched during the regular season. Fairbanks again held the slight advantage with 11.7% scoring 7 times on 60 times with the man advantage compared to Kenai River at 10.7% on a 6 of 56 performance.