The 16th annual North American Hockey League (NAHL) Showcase got off to a great start yesterday, and will continue through Saturday, at the Super Rink in Blaine, Minnesota.
All 24 NAHL teams will play four regular-season games at the Showcase, which is one of the league’s most prominent events of the entire season.
Aside from the report from NAHL Director of Communications Alex Kyrias, you will get an abbreviated Dish from me.
MN Magicians 3 vs. Aberdeen 0 – The Magicians have a serious asset in young Ethan Haider (2001). The Maple Grove (MN) product put on one heck of a show Wednesday to open the event. Wings coach Scott Langer was spotted checking for his wallet on a few occasions during the third period as the Magicians’ netminder was robbing the Wings of everything else.
Bismarck 4 vs. Kenai River 2 – The Brown Bears’ players may have started the showcase a bit on the timid side after seeing all those black hockey jackets in the stands holding clipboards. Yea, those college coaches were crossing T’s and dotting I’s all day. Kenai River started out flat and was never able to recover. Today’s matchup with Aberdeen should be VERY interesting.
Johnstown 4 vs. MN Wilderness 1 – Speaking of interesting, did any of you all see the Wilderness’ blueliners doing their best impression of a keystone kops’ routine? The boys looked completely disorganized. This team has a heavy core group of returning players and there is no excuse to be playing so poorly. The score could have easily been 10-1 considering all the 2 on 1 breakaways that Wilderness goalie Ryan Fanti (’99, Thunder Bay ONT) had to deal with. In reality, I suspect that the NA3HL’s North Iowa Bulls could have knocked off the Wilderness on this day. Nice first game back Coach Boitz. The Wilderness face a fired-up Fairbanks team first thing this morning, look for that to end up as a disaster.
Topeka 4 vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 3 (OT) – I think it’s fair to say that Topeka’s rookie bench boss Simon Watson has this NAHL thing pretty much figured out. The Pilots are 3-1-0-0 through the first four games of the season, something that the Topeka fans must be just giddy about. Speaking of fans; the dozen or so faithful that follow the Knights have cause for concern now that the WB team has dropped three straight games to open the season.
Shreveport 4 vs. Fairbanks 3 (SO) – ‘Dem ‘Bugs, ‘dem ‘Bugs, ‘dem Mudbugs! Unreal result on Wednesday with shootout victory over Fairbanks. Hey, when a team has the kind of reputation that the Ice Dogs have, even the defending Robertson Cup champions are going to bring their best game. Fairbanks does not have the luxury of getting an easy game. Look for something nasty to happen this morning when Fairbanks tee’s off on the Wilderness.
Janesville 2 vs. Lone Star 1 – The Jets shook off those opening week cobwebs with a solid win over the always difficult Lone Star Brahmas. Lone Star did a great job of limiting the Jets’ offense to just 16 shots in a great defensive effort.
Austin 4 vs. Odessa 3 – The Bruins looked sharp in their season opening win over Odessa. The Jackalopes are too good to have a 1-2-0-1 record this early in the season. Look for something to click tomorrow. Austin faces the Brahmas this morning at 11:00 AM.
New Jersey 4 vs. Corpus Christi 3 – The Titans turned in another solid performance in the win, improving their season record to 3-0-0-0. IceRays bench boss Ryan Cruthers will be looking for his first NAHL win today when Corpus Christi faces undefeated Johnstown.
Jamestown 3 vs. Chippewa Falls 2 – The Rebels took the U-Haul Cup with the 3-2 win over fellow relocator Chippewa Falls. Joe Coombs’ Rebels goaltender Ryan Keane (’98, Dallas TX) stopped 29 of 31 to lock down the win.
Northeast 7 vs. Minot 5 – The news out of Youngstown was that the Generals have some firepower. Yep, that’s now been confirmed. The teams combined for 90 shots on goal in the slugfest.
Maryland 4 vs. Springfield 3 – We knew it was not going to take too much time for Black Bears’ boss Clint Mylymok to pick up his first NAHL win. Look for MANY more to come.
Amarillo 5 vs. Brookings 4 – The late game was almost as if Commissioner Mark Frankenfeld wanted to save the best game for last. The characters (Rocky Russo vs Moe Mantha) could not be more entertaining to see in action. Needless to say, this one played more like a chess match with Russo’s Bulls trying to blow the Blizzard out of the barn with four tallies in the first period. It’s well known that Mantha coached teams never quit and yesterday was no exception. Brooking powered back to close the gap to a single goal before running out of clock. A great game to watch and am excited to see more action today.
Overall, this event proved once again to be one of the premier opportunities to see and be seen. College coaches from every level were on hand and every team (with the exception of the Wilderness) put on a good show.