CHL Headlines for Friday, March 25
The CHL’s regular season will conclude on Sunday with game #594 (Texas at Laredo). The season began on Friday, October 15 with game #1 (Mississippi at Bossier-Shreveport). The final weekend features 22 games as the league’s clubs work to finalize seeding for the post-season and in two cases, try to determine a final playoff spot. The Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees (54 points) enter the final weekend with a two point lead over the Laredo Bucks (52 points) for the final playoff spot. The Bucks have a game in hand but the Killer Bees own the advantage in the tiebreaker. The Bucks play in Texas on Friday and then host Missouri on Saturday and Texas on Sunday. RGV host Missouri on Friday and Texas on Saturday. A win by the Killer Bees and a regulation loss for the Bucks would clinch a playoff berth for Rio Grande Valley and a n Opening Round date with the Governors’ Cup Champion Allen Americans.
Still Up for Grabs
The Turner Conference is still up for grabs with four teams conceivably having a shot at the regular season conference crown. The Colorado Eagles currently have the lead with 82 points but a pair of tough games this weekend in Fort Wayne will certainly make the Eagles sweat. Rapid City is in second place with 80 points and hold the inside track on the tiebreaker with Colorado should the two teams end up even. The Rush plays a pair of games at Arizona. Bloomington has three games with the Evansville IceMen this weekend and with a perfect weekend, they’d pass Rapid City and potentially end up ahead of Colorado capturing the Turner for the newly crowned CHL Coach of the Year (Jason Christie). Missouri needs a ton of help but with wins in Rio Grande Valley and Laredo and the right combination of losses from the other three clubs could claim the conference title. Because of the uncertainty, the playoff picture is quite blurry as to who will play who relative to the bottom four teams in the conference; Wichita, Quad City, Dayton and Fort Wayne.
MVP Around the Corner
The 2011 CHL Most Valuable Player Award will be announced on Monday, March 28 with the field of five finalists all vying for the honor. The candidates are Rapid City’s Ryan Menei, Colorado’s Riley Nelson, Missouri’s Robby Nolan, Odessa’s Sebastien Thinel and Allen’s Colton Yellow Horn. Voting has already been completed and was done among CHL head coaches, CHL Communication’s staffs and select media members from CHL markets.
By the Numbers
2- The number of road wins the Allen Americans need this weekend to tie the CHL record for away wins in a single season (24). The Americans are 22-8-1 on the road this season and with wins in Mississippi on Friday and Wichita on Sunday, they could tie the league’s all-time road win mark. The Americans will be presented with the Bud Poile Governors’ Cup prior to their home finale on Saturday.
981- The number of points that Bossier-Shreveport forward Travis Clayton has in his 14-year CHL career. The league’s all-time games played leader needs four points in the Mudbugs final two games to tie Joe Burton (985) for the league’s all-time scoring mark. Bossier-Shreveport plays Odessa in a home-and-home series this weekend.
108- The number of points that Odessa’s Sebastien Thinel has this season cruising towards his second scoring title in the last three years. Thinel has 34 goals and 74 assists with the closest competition being teammate Todd Robinson who has 97 points. Thinel has had multiple-point games six times in the Jacks last seven contests racking up eight goals and eight assists over those seven games. Odessa has won four straight games and appear to be headed for the fifth seed in the Berry Conference.
5- The number of wins the Quad City Mallards have over the Dayton Gems this season in eight games played. The Flock has outscored the Gems 27-21 in their head-to-head meetings this season (10-6 in the third period) and the two teams are poised to go at it twice this weekend with seeding at stake. Currently, the Mallards have 69 points and Dayton has 65 with four big points on the line this weekend. Both games will be played in Dayton.
212- The all-time number of meetings between the Wichita Thunder and the Tulsa Oilers who meet this weekend in a home-and-home series. Tulsa is 6-3-1 this season versus the Thunder and 103-86-23 all-time versus their rivals. Despite a 4.01 GAA, Tulsa goaltender Ian Keserich is 4-1-0 versus his former team. The teams have combined to score 80 goals in their 10 match-ups this season. Wichita’s A.J. Gale and Matt Robinson have each scored seven goals against the Oilers.
-The Odessa Jackalopes have been assigned forward Jean Bourbeau from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (AHL). The feisty forward had three goals and five assists in 44 games with the Tigers, along with 48 PIMs. The Bonnyville, Alberta native has played in 116 all-time games with Odessa scoring 22 goals with 25 assists.
-The Texas Brahmas will look to end the regular season on a high note after dropping each of their last three games and winning just three times in their last 10 games. Texas is fighting Tulsa for the third seed in the Berry Conference and still has a chance of getting as high as the second spot. The Brahmas play Laredo twice this weekend (once at home and once on the road) and at Rio Grande Valley. The Brahmas have lost six straight games away from home.
-The Fort Wayne Komets will look to finish the season strong after going 3-4-1 over their last eight games. The Komets host the Colorado Eagles, a potential Opening Round playoff opponent, in a pair of games and will look to avenge a 6-1 thumping in Colorado a couple of weeks ago (Mar. 11)
-Mudbugs goalie John DeCaro has been catching fire lately winning all four of his starts in March allowing just five goals in those games. He is 20-11-1 on the season with a 2.57 GAA and in his last 14 decisions has posted a 10-4-0 mark.