We are starting to see some separation between the North American Hockey League haves and have-nots. Look for more of that and more in today’s second report of the season.
Now for the disclosure… the following is my opinion and not written under the influence of anything or anybody.
#1 Amarillo Bulls (6-1-0-0, .857) – Head Coach Rocky Russo’s Bulls climb to the top of the pile after a pair of big home wins over Topeka. The idea is to stay at #1 with struggling Lone Star visiting Saturday. Is it official, are the Bulls back? Let’s give that one a month and address it again. So far, so good.
#2 Minot Minotauros (5-1-0-0, .833) – Marty Murray’s ‘Tauros moves up a few slots after making it look too easy with the pair of shutout wins at Brookings. This week’s home-and-home with #6 Bismarck could be the match-up of the week.
#3 Johnstown Tomahawks (6-2-0-0, .750) – Coach Mike Letizia’s Tomahawks move up the ladder on the heels of two road wins at New Jersey. Look for the War Memorial to be absolutely rocking this weekend with the Rebs in town for two.
#4 Austin Bruins (4-1-0-1, .750) – Head Coach Steve Howard’s Bruins drop from the top spot to #4 after the home-and-home split with Bizzie. Austin will try that their luck this week with just one game against a Brookings team that is still trying to find their way.
#5 Topeka Pilots (6-3-0-0, .667) –Simon Watson’s Pilots were grounded in Amarillo and drop three slots as a result. This weekend’s flight to Springfield is going to be a big test.
#6 Bismarck Bobcats (4-2-0-0, .667) – Head Coach Layne Sedevie’s Bobcats drop a spot after splitting the weekend series with Austin. This week’s battle with Minot is going to be fun to watch.
#7 Minnesota Magicians (4-2-0-0, .667) –AJ Bucchino team sent the Ice Dogs to the basement with Saturday night’s big win. In an unusual turn of events, the Magicians go into this weekend’s home-and-home set with the Wilderness as the favorite. Can this group meet that expectation?
#8 Aberdeen Wings (4-2-0-0, .667) – Scott Langer’s bunch picked up a pair of big wins in Minnesota and get moved up three spots as a reward. The next three games are all at home starting with the Brookings’ visit Friday.
#9 Kenai River Brown Bears (5-3-0-0, .625) – Head Coach Josh Petrich’s Bears drop two spots after the split at Springy. Chippewa visits this weekend in the Brown Bears’ home opener so look for Kenai River to come out growling.
#10 Springfield Blues (3-2-1-0, .583) – The Blues pick up three points with the home split with Kenai River. Topeka flies into the capital city this weekend.
#11t New Jersey Titans (4-4-0-0, .500) – The Titans drop three spots after getting swept at home by the Tomahawks. New Jersey will try to get some of that back with this week’s home-and-home set with the Knights.
#11t Shreveport Mudbugs (4-4-0-0, .500) – The ‘Bugs get a week off after the road split at Corpus Christi.
#11t Northeast Generals (2-2-0-0, .500) – The Gens split the weekend home set with Jamestown and will host Maryland for the first time ever this weekend.
#14 Janesville Jets (4-4-0-0, .500) – Gary Shuchuk’s jump seven spots after getting the weekend sweep over Chippewa. This week’s trip to Alaska should be an adventure. Let’s face it; the Big Dipper is never going to be a real vacation destination in October.
#15 Jamestown Rebels (3-3-0-0, .500) –Joe Coombs’ Rebs remain at .500 after the weekend split in Boston. Jamestown gets a week off to prepare for their home opening weekend against New Jersey October 12-13.
#16 Maryland Black Bears (2-3-3-0, .438) – Clint Mylymok’s Bears picked up a single point at the WB and will have to do better than that this weekend in Boston.
#17 Minnesota Wilderness (2-3-1-0, .417) –Davey Boitz got schooled by Aberdeen’s Scott Langer as the Wilderness dropped both games in the team’s opening home weekend. This weekend’s set with the Magicians should be another learning experience for the new coach.
#18 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights (2-3-1-0, .417) –Head Coach Tom Kowal’s Knights rocketed off the bottom of the heap with two wins over the expansion Black Bears. A grand total of 233 fans made their way to Revolution Ice Centre for the festivities. The Knights exchange pleasantries with the Titans for the first series of the year between the division rivals.
#19 Odessa Jackalopes (3-5-0-1, .389) – Greg Gatto’s Jackalopes split the weekend set at Lone Star and remain at #19. The boys go back to NYTEX October 19 and 20.
#20 Corpus Christi IceRays (3-5-0-0, .375) – Ryan Cruthers and the IceRays picked up a milestone win with Saturday’s shutout of Shreveport. Corpus Christi will get the chance to sit on that sweetness until October 12-13 when the Brahmas return to the American Bank Center.
#21 Chippewa Steel (3-5-0-0, .375) – The Steel drop five spots to #21 after getting swept by Janesville over the weekend. Now’s the boys are singing “North to Alaska” with the next four games all near the top of the world. This week’s visit to Kenai River should be exciting,
#22 Lone Star Brahmas (2-4-0-1, .357) – Dan Wildfong’s Brahmas remain at #22 for the second straight week after splitting with Odessa at home. Lone Star takes another one-game trip to Amarillo this weekend.
#23 Brookings Blizzard (1-3-1-1, .333) – Moe Mantha’s Blizzard have been shutout in three of the last four games. Yes, it’s going to be hard to win if the boys can’t find the back of the net. This week’s trip to Aberdeen and Austin could prove to be painful.
#24 Fairbanks Ice Dogs (2-5-0-1, .313) –Trevor Stewart’s team is rejoicing now that they are back in Alaska. I’m thinking the ‘Dogs are going to try and run Janesville out of the building this weekend.
THE FINE PRINT
We have moved 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. 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 has discontinued.