Friday, February 29th, 2008
SCORING RACES HEAT UP
The scoring races in the CHL look like they will both come down to the wire as two players, Laredo’s Jeff Bes and Arizona’s Alex Leavitt, look to be the top two candidates to win the points race and Bes along with Rocky Mountain’s Daymen Rycroft look to be the two front-runner to win the league’s goal scoring title.
Leavitt exploded last night in the Sundogs 6-5 win at Amarillo with five points (1-4=5) pulling him to within one point of Bes for the scoring lead. Leavitt has 90 points and 12 games remaining, while Bes sits with 91 points and nine games remaining.
Rycroft has the goal scoring lead with 44 scores, two better than Bes. Rycroft has two more games than Bes remaining on the schedule.
The top scoring rookie in the CHL appears to be safely in the hands of David Nimmo of Amarillo, at least for now. Nimmo has an eight point lead over Arizona’s Mark Kolanos and a 10 point lead over Laredo’s Andrew Desjardins.
SCORPS AND SUNDOGS TANGLE AGAIN
The New Mexico Scorpions and the Arizona Sundogs will meet again tonight for the 10th time this season and for the fourth time in the last nine days. This time the setting is Rio Rancho, NMX. Last week in Prescott Valley, the Scorpions took two out of three games from the Sundogs. Currently, Arizona leads the SW division over Odessa by two points and over New Mexico by four points. Konrad Reeder (22 points) and Vladimir Hartinger (11 goals, 20 points) have been the main thorns in the sides of the Sundogs this season. New Mexico leads the season series with a 5-3-1 record. Scorps goaltender Mike Minard is 3-0-1 versus Arizona this season.
PLAYOFF SHOWDOWN IN TEXAS STATE CAPITAL
The Austin Ice Bats host the Amarillo Gorillas on Friday night with just one point separating these two teams. Currently, the Ice Bats hold the fifth and final Southern Conference playoff spot but with a win Amarillo could leapfrog Austin into that position. The Gorillas are coming off a 6-5 loss on Thursday night to the Arizona Sundogs.
BRAHMAS LOOK TO STAY HOT DURING TOUGH WEEKEND STRETCH
The Texas Brahmas have been one of the better CHL teams over the past month going 16-5-0 in their last 21 games and hence climbing right into the thick of the battle for the Northern Conference’s final two playoff spots. Currently the Brahmas trail both Mississippi and Youngstown by a point but the schedule for Texas will be pretty tough over the next handful of games. Texas travels to Laredo for a game versus the Southern Conference’s top team on Friday and then has to make the trek back home to face the Northern Conference’s top team, the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs on Saturday night. The weekend wraps up with a home game versus Austin who has won three straight games.
Both the Youngstown SteelHounds and the Arizona Sundogs have had numerous players called-up by the American Hockey League (AHL) this season. Hounds defenseman Stephen Margeson, on re-call with the Lake Erie Monsters, has been injured since late December but in his 19 games with the Monsters he scored three goals with three assists. Youngstown forward Kirill Starkov is on re-call with Syracuse and is scoreless in five games with the Crunch. Arizona defenseman Sean Sullivan has four assists and is a +3 in 23 games with the San Antonio Rampage. The Mudbugs have watched defenseman Dale Lupul go up to the Quad City Flames and currently forward Justin Aikins is up with Rochester (one assist in six games). A couple of former CHL players have made their NHL debuts this season with goaltender Tyler Wieman (Colorado) playing 15 minutes in a game for the Colorado Avalanche earlier this season and former San Angelo Saint forward Chris Minard playing four games with the Pittsburgh Penguins recording his first NHL assist on February 26th.