Friday, March 14th, 2008
NORTHEAST DIVISION FLEXES ITS MUSCLE
From the start of the season until today the most consistent and best division in the CHL has been the Northeast Division. Four of the league’s top seven point totals come from the NE Division yet it is quite possible that one of the division’s four teams will be excluded from post-season play.
The Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs (41-12-5) have clinched the division and are just one point away from winning the Northern Conference. The Bugs are the defending Governors’ Cup champs and currently have a six point lead over Laredo to repeat and keep their name on the trophy.
The other three teams in the NE Division, the Texas Brahmas (36-20-2), the Youngstown SteelHounds (34-19-5) and the Mississippi RiverKings (34-20-4) are all in the five-team log-jam trying to qualify for the remaining four conference playoff berths.
When comparing the NE Division in games versus the rest of the league, there is no comparison. The Northeast is 90-22-10 versus all the other divisions. In contrast, the SW Division is 59-42-19 outside their division (3-6-1 versus the NE Division), the NW Division is 65-72-16 and the SE has the lowest winning percentage with a 39-65-9 record (7-26-2 versus the teams of the Northeast Division).
BUCKS AND STEELHOUNDS BEGIN THREE-GAME SERIES
One of the weekend’s marquee match-ups is the Laredo Bucks traveling to Youngstown to face the SteelHounds in a three-game series (Friday thru Sunday). The Hounds won the only previous meeting on November 10th in Laredo (3-2). The Bucks lead the all-time series 3-2 and have never lost in the Chevy Centre (2-0). For the Bucks, they have already clinched the Southeast Division title and are just three points away from locking up the Southern Conference. With their current three-game win streak, the Bucks have emerged back in the conversation for the Governors’ Cup trialing Bossier-Shreveport by six points. Youngstown is fighting for their playoff lives despite being 15 games over .500. They have a one point lead over Mississippi for the fifth and final Northern conference slot but are just two points away from owning the third seed.
Roster Note: The Laredo Bucks expect forward Chris Stanley to be in the line-up this weekend after signing the European star to a contract this week. The former fourth-round pick of the Vancouver Canucks had 46 points (24-22=46) in 40 games this season in Italy.
Amarillo rookie David Nimmo is having a remarkable season and maybe even a more remarkable last five weeks. Since February 1st, the St. Albert, Alberta native has recorded 15 goals with 19 assists for 34 points and a +6 plus/minus rating. In his last four games he has scored 15 points (8-7=15) including hat tricks in two of the last three games. His 38 goals on the season are third among all players and tops among rookies. His 77 points are eighth among all players and is the most by a CHL rookie since Jim Dahl netted 82 points (35-47=82) during the 2005-06 season with Tulsa. The CHL record for goals and points by a rookie are both held by the 1999 CHL Rookie of the Year Johnny Bdarovic who scored 56 goals with 115 points with San Antonio during the 1998-99 campaign (a 70-game season).
EAGLES END HOME SCHEDULE THIS WEEKEND
The Colorado Eagles (36-17-6) were 13-8-4 on December 26th and at points in December they trailed the Rocky Mountain Rage by 10 points but since they have gone 23-9-2 and have moved past the Rage into first place in the Northwest Division leading by three points. A big part of that success has come on home ice where they are 15-1-0 since December 26th including a 13-game home winning streak. The Eagles host the New Mexico Scorpions (31-21-6) and the Tulsa Oilers (22-32-4) this weekend in their final two home games of the regular season (26-4-0 at home) before heading east to Youngstown for their final three games of the season.
MUDBUGS MEET THE THORN IN THEIR SIDES
The Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs (41-12-5) host the Texas Brahmas (36-20-2) tonight for the 10th time in the regular season with Texas owning a 5-4 series advantage. The Brahmas are the only team in the CHL with a winning record against the Northern Conference leading Bugs. Texas has won three of the last four match-ups versus Bossier-Shreveport and is currently sitting in the fourth spot in the Northern Conference just one point behind the third seeded Rocky Mountain Rage.