Collaborated with Jason Schawe:
After a week absence from the weekend preview, we are back and ready for a weekend jam packed with some good hockey! This weekend features several key match-ups, including a dog fight for first place on Friday night! So without any further adieu, here are the big games of the weekend!
Wichita @ Allen: Friday Night
After starting out the season series 2-0-0, Allen has dropped three straight to Wichita by a margin of 14 to 5. Not only will Wichita look to win a fourth straight against the Americans, but also take over the league’s top spot in the standings. Allen’s special teams have struggled during their three game slide against Wichita. In the last three games the power play has gone 1 of 14 (7%) and the penalty kill has gone 13 of 18 (72%). If they look to turn the corner on Wichita their special teams need to step up and produce. Currently Wichita has the best penalty kill unit in the league, killing off 86.7% of their short handed opportunities. After last weeks games in Wichita, this will no doubt be a knock down, drag out, heavyweight fight from start to finish!
Quad City @ Denver: Friday and Saturday
Quad City is coming off another down week, as they finished 1-2-0. Both losses were against Rapid City, while their only win came against Arizona. Against a fast Cutthroat squad, Quad City’s defense, lead by captain Brad McMillan (1G, 8A, 9P) and Matt Duffy (5G, 23A, 28P), need to be on the “A-game” if they want to pull out a win this weekend in Denver. The Cutthroats are coming off a 1-2-0 week as well. Splitting the Wichita series and losing a tough game in Missouri. The good news: Denver got back Kieran Millan for AHL Lake Erie. The bad news: the Cutthroats leading scorer, AJ Gale (31G, 35A, 66P), was called up by AHL Lake Erie. So what is Denver going to do without their leading scorer? New comer Mikael Bedard has been on fire sense being acquired by Denver. In his three games, Bedard has 5 goals and 2 assists. Hopefully he can pick up where Gale left off.
Fort Worth vs. Allen: At Fort Worth Friday and at Allen Saturday
This series is going to be a battle for first as Ft. Worth( 65 points) is only two points behind Allen(67 points). Ft. Worth is coming into this week after going 3-1-0, with their only loss coming at the hands of the Americans. John Snowden continues his scoring ways, scoring 7 goals and getting 3 assists in the past 4 games. And Kristofer Westblom finished last week with a 3-0 record. Allen went 2-2-0 last week. Dropping 2 games in Wichita, while winning games versus Missouri and Ft. Worth. Ever since the NHL lockout ended, Allen has struggled to find consistency. Guys like Jason Deitsch and Jarret Lukin need to contribute on a more consistent basis. Deitsch only has 27 points in 50 games, while Lukin has 25 points in 46 games. If Allen wants to come away with four points this weekend, veterans Lukin and Deitsch have to find someway to contribute more on the offensive end. Anthony Mainai, Tyler Ludwig and Jamie Schaafsma can’t carry the load themselves. As always, this should a be a great series of hockey between these two north Texas rivals.
Bloomington @ Rapid City: Friday and Saturday
If irony is played into this series it’s the special teams units for both the Blaze and Rush. The Blaze have the best power play in the league (23.35%) and the second worst penalty kill in the league (78.80%). Meanwhile on the completely opposite side of the spectrum, the Rush have the third best penalty kill (85.40%) and the second worst power play (14.72%) in the league. Also, Bloomington boasts the highest scoring offense in the league, scoring 186 goals on the year. Rapid City has the lowest scoring offense with 130 goals. Bloomington has allowed the second most goals against 182, while Rapid City is third best in goals against at 141. So let the chess match begin in Bloomington, this has all the makings for a couple epic games!
Tulsa @ Arizona and Wichita @ Missouri: Saturday
Tulsa will look to inch closer to a playoff spot on Saturday in Prescott Valley as the Sundogs host them. Tulsa is 8-3-1 in their last 12 games and have played very good hockey against some of the top teams in the league. A month ago it looked as if the Oilers had no chance of making the playoffs, but Bruce Ramsay has kept his squad in the hunt!
Wichita will renew their rivalry with the Mavericks on Saturday night in Independence. This will be the first meeting between the two teams since January 4th, when Missouri won their first game of the season series. This season Wichita is 5-1-0 against their cross state rivals.
We hope you all have a great weekend and enjoy the hockey that is ahead of us! Comment and let us know what your thoughts are on the weekend’s games! And be sure to follow us on Twitter @ML_HockeyReport and “Like” us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Minor-League-Hockey-Report/294589260589140