Monday, January 25, 2010
CENTRAL HOCKEY LEAGUE HEADLINES
With about 25 games remaining for most CHL teams, the playoff race in the Southern Conference is heating up with five teams separated by just seven points while fighting for three post-season spots. The Texas Brahmas are currently in the third spot with 45 points, two ahead of the Laredo Bucks who are in the fourth spot. Sitting in the fifth position is the Amarillo Gorillas with 40 points and just outside the top five are the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees with 39 points and the Corpus Christi IceRays with 38 points. The two teams at the top of the conference, Odessa and Allen, have set themselves up nicely with 65 and 57 points respectively as they are currently both cruising to the two top seeds. Arizona is in the midst of a six-game losing streak and are 11 points out of a playoff spot.
Road Warrior’s- Rush – Head Out on Long Journey
The Rapid City Rush head out on their longest road trip of the season but that may not be a bad thing. The Rush are 11-4-1 this season away from home including winning each of their last six road contests. The trip for the Rush begins on Tuesday morning with a Kid’s Day Game at Mississippi. The rest of the journey has them playing Mississippi again on Wednesday, in Missouri on Friday, in Wichita on Saturday and then finishing the trek with three games in Arizona (Feb. 3, Feb. 5 and Feb. 6). Rapid City has not lost a road game since December 18 at the RiverKings.
Odessa Deals Three Big Blows to Sundogs
In a unique part of the 2009-10 schedule, the Arizona Sundogs are in a stretch that has them playing the Southern Conference division leading Odessa Jackalopes five straight games beginning with a three games series in Prescott Valley last week and continuing with two games at the Jack Shack this week. Odessa won all three games in Arizona last week outscoring the Sundogs 12-7. On the season, Odessa is 6-0 this season versus Arizona.
BY THE NUMBERS
20,287- The number of combined hockey fans that watched the two games this past weekend between the Tulsa Oilers and the Wichita Thunder. The Thunder welcomed the largest crowd to watch a CHL game this season on Saturday night at the opening of the INTRUST Bank Arena (13,412). The visiting Tulsa Oilers spoiled the festive night for the Thunder with a 2-1 victory but on Friday night the Thunder dealt the first strike beating the Oilers at the BOK Center (4-1) where 6,875 fans were in attendance.
10:05- The start time of Tuesday’s Kid’s Day Game in Mississippi when the RiverKings host the Rapid City Rush. The ‘Kings ended the Rush’s CHL season-long 10-game win streak (Nov. 21-Dec. 15) in their last meeting (Dec. 18) but lost three of four games earlier this season in Rapid City. Tuesday’s AM action can be seen LIVE on CHL-TV.
2-3- The Amarillo Gorillas record on their recently completed five-game stretch that may not seem like an accomplishment but the trip including two games at Rapid City, one game at Allen and two games versus Colorado. The combined record of the Gorillas three opponents is 78-28-7. The wins came versus Allen and Colorado and in the two games versus the Rush, Amarillo was leading or tied heading into the third period.
3- The number of times that Allen goaltender Chris Whitley has won the Oakley CHL Goaltender of the Week award after claiming the honor again after last week’s action. The rookie leads the CHL with 19 wins and is seventh in the CHL with a 2.67 GAA. He becomes the first goalie to win the award three times in a single season since Miguel Beaudry won four times during the 2007-08 season while a member of the Austin Ice Bats.
122:58- The length of the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees scoreless streak before Nathan Ansell scored the game-tying goal in the third period in Tulsa on Sunday. The Bees were shutout in Bossier-Shreveport, 7-0, on Wednesday and then did not score until the final two minutes of Sunday’s shootout loss to Tulsa. The Bees are just one point behind Amarillo for the fifth spot in the South but they do have five games in hand on the Gorillas.
-After playing five games over a six day stretch and leading the CHL with 43 games played, the Amarillo Gorillas will slow down a bit with just two games over the next 10 days. Amarillo plays at Colorado on Wednesday and then Arizona on Sunday and then not again until Thursday, February 4 at Corpus Christi.
-After scoring eight goals in his last five games including multiple-goal games four times, Laredo’s Darryl Smith is now tied at the top for the goal scoring lead in the league. Corpus Christi’s Chad Woollard and Smith both have 22 goals leading the way. Smith was named the Oakley CHL Player of the Week on Monday for his six goals in three games last week for the Bucks.
-Colorado defenseman Aaron Schneekloth has points in 16 of his last 19 games and is the top scoring defenseman in the CHL with 38 points (15-23=38). The d-man is on pace for 65 points this season coming off a year in 2008-09 that saw him total 55 points and win the CHL Most Outstanding Defenseman Award.
-Wichita goaltender Ian Keserich continues to play well even if the record does not show it (0-7). Acquired in a trade with Mississippi almost a month ago, Keserich has started seven of eight games since joining the Thunder and has a .931 save percentage and has allowed three goals or fewer in each start. His overall .928 save percentage would be tops in the league if he had enough minutes to qualify.