It’s official, here is the first North American Hockey League rankings and report of the season. In the last few years we’ve added a letter grade to NAHL rankings and created a bit of discontent for doing that. As a result, that practice is being discontinued.
We are moving to a pure mathematical ranking system based entirely on the team’s winning percentage before going to goal differential in the event of ties. Yes, sometimes simple is best.
Now for the disclosure… the following is my opinion and not written under the influence of anything or anybody.
#1 Austin Bruins (3-0-0-1, .875) – Head Coach Steve Howard’s Bruins are off to a fast start after a very successful showing at the NAHL Showcase. Bizzie visits Riverside Arena this weekend.
#2 Topeka Pilots (6-1-0-0, .857) – The Pilots’ are enjoying an impressive takeoff with six wins in the first seven games. Let’s see how rookie head coach Simon Watson deals with the Bull Pen in Amarillo this weekend.
#3 Amarillo Bulls (4-1-0-0, .800) – Head Coach Rocky Russo’s Bulls have the panhandlers back in Texas all fired-up. Look for the barn to be rocking when the latest edition of the NAHL team from Topeka rolls into town this weekend. #2 vs #3 will be fun to watch.
#4 Minot Minotauros (3-1-0-0, .750) – Marty Murray’s ‘Tauros are a stingy bunch. After giving up seven to Generals in the opener, Minot has allowed just a pair of goals in the last three games. Let’s see if that Showcase magic continues this weekend at Brookings.
#5 Bismarck Bobcats (3-1-0-0, .750) – Head Coach Layne Sedevie’s Bobcats took three of four games in Blaine and will try to keep that momentum going this weekend when they visit top-ranked Austin.
#6 Minnesota Magicians (3-1-0-0, .750) – There’s no doubt that the Magicians ring leader AJ Bucchino has a very talented hockey team, that has been proven. Can the rookie NAHL head coach keep the boys on track for the duration of the season? So far, so good. A big test is set for this weekend with the Fairbanks Ice Dogs in for a pair of games.
#7 Kenai River Brown Bears (4-2-0-0, .667) – Head Coach Josh Petrich’s Bears are off to a great start. That’s a little easier to do when a coach’s roster is full of guys that he brought to the table. Yes, this is certainly now the young coach’s team. With an embarrassment of riches between the pipes, look for Kenai River to continue to get great goalkeeping and likely make an early move. Games seven and eight of the early season roadie is this weekend at Springy.
#8t Johnstown Tomahawks (4-2-0-0, .667) – Like Amarillo, Coach Mike Letizia’s Tomahawks have whipped their fans into an early season frenzy. Johnstown has stacked the deck with a nice mix of veteran and young talent. Look for that success to be put to a big test this weekend at New Jersey.
#8t New Jersey Titans (4-2-0-0, .567) – The Titans would like not nothing more than to open the home schedule with a sweep of the Tomahawks. Both teams are clicking early making this weekend’s games must-watch hockey for fans across the continent.
#10 Shreveport Mudbugs (3-3-0-0, .500) – The ‘Bugs have lit the lamp only three times in the last three games after beating Fairbanks at their Showcase opener. Folks, that’s just not acceptable for this group. Look for this team to come out hot in this weekend’s tilt at Corpus Christi.
#11t Aberdeen Wings (2-2-0-0, .500) – Scott Langer has been around long enough to know better than to get too caught up in the drama in Blaine. He knows the game and how many players will be dropping down from the United States Hockey League in the next ten days. This guy simply gets the job done. Look for a big result from the roadie back to Minnesota this week.
#11t Northeast Generals (1-1-0-0, .500) – After a little side scrimmage against the USHL’s Phantoms, the Gens played two league games in Blaine. I was also impressed by the performance against the US NTDPs as well. Now that all that fun and games is done, it’s time to get back to business. Things get real this weekend with the Aston, I mean Philly, no…uh Jamestown Rebels visit to the Sports Village.
#11t Springfield Blues (2-2-0-0, .500) – ‘Da Blues have the next four games at their cozy Nelson Center home starting this weekend with Kenai River. The showing in Blaine was respectable, if not overly distracting.
#14t Brookings Blizzard (1-1-1-1, .500) – Moe Mantha’s Blizzard come out of Blaine in tact after seeing a bit of everything at the event. Look for the boys to be settled into the routine by the time Minot visits this weekend.
#14t Minnesota Wilderness (2-2-0-0, .500) – The Wilderness on-ice success is more about what the previous (now at St. Scholastica) Head Coach Tim Madsen left on the table than whatever Davey Boitz is doing behind the bench. It’s very impressive how the veterans have stepped up to lead this group and that was very evident in Blaine. This weekend’s home series against Aberdeen should be eventful and its going to be very interesting to see how the team responds.
#16 Chippewa Steel (3-3-0-0, .500) – The Steel opened some eyes with the season opening sweep of Fairbanks. I think that resulted in a bit of over-confidence going into the showcase. This weekend’s home-and-home set with Janesville is important and will be a great test for both teams.
#17 Maryland Black Bears (2-2-2-0, .500) – Clint Mylymok’s crew have done well for themselves in the early goings of the season. Now it’s time to wipe those smiles off and get down to the nitty gritty of the early season. There’s nothing about this weekend’s road trip to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton that’s going to be fun. Maryland needs to be ready for a Knights team that is getting the business from their old school coach. Simply said, pack the ice-packs and foil.
#18 Jamestown Rebels (2-2-0-0, .500) – Ken Dennis has stock in a moving company. I kind of feel sorry for Joe Coombs and his staff. I can only imagine the uneasy feeling when having to sign a lease for an apartment. Let’s just forget that mishap at the showcase and move forward to the season shall we. This IS a .500 team after four games, so all is not lost. The boys head to Boston this weekend to face the Generals.
#19 Odessa Jackalopes (2-4-0-1, .357) – No, Blaine was not too much fun for the ‘Jacks. With elevated expectations going into the season, Odessa bench boss Greg Gatto has his work cut out for himself now. This weekend’s run into the metroplex has to generate a positive result.
#20 Corpus Christi IceRays (2-4-0-0, .333) – I’m hearing a lot of early season whispers from the Texas coast. Relax people, Ryan Cruthers crew showed a ton of promise at Blaine. So much that the Mudbugs are a little worried about this week’s trip to Corpus. After watching film from the Rays-Wings game, I’d be worried too.
#21 Janesville Jets (2-4-0-0, .333) – Yes, Gary Shuchuk’s Jets have sputtered a bit on take-off. Yes, winning just a third of the games to date is certainly well beneath the expectations for this proud club. No, there are no worries about the season. The Jets have a lot of talent that will come together, they will just have to dig in and fight for it. This weekend’s set with Chippewa could very well set the tone for the rest of the season.
#22 Lone Star Brahmas (1-3-0-1, .300) – Dan Wildfong’s Brahmas did not do well in Blaine. Water under the bridge and now the boys are back in Texas for the duration of the season. Well there are those two little trips to Topeka and Shreveport might as well be in Texas. Odessa visits this weekend in a matchup that could easily bring the Brahmas back to .500.
#23 Fairbanks Ice Dogs (1-4-0-1, .250) – The Ice Dogs must be very thankful for fellow Alaskan Tom Kowal and the Knights. Let’s face it, Fairbanks would be at the very bottom of this list if not for the WB. And deservedly so. Let’s be real here, Davey Boitz smoked the ‘Dogs before Marty Murray kicked ‘em down the road to Richfield. Let’s see what Trevor Stewart and do between now and this weekend.
#24 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights (0-3-0-1, .125) –Head Coach Tom Kowal’s Knights are winless after four games in Minnesota. There’s nothing to see here, move along. Maryland visits Revolution Ice Centre this weekend.