SOUTHWEST DIVISION RACE SEES A THREE-WAY TIE
The Southwest Division has been full of ups and downs this season and right now things couldn’t be any closer with three teams tied for the top spot with 57 points. The hottest team in the division is the New Mexico Scorpions who have won six straight games and just finished a seven-game home stand 6-0-1. The Scorps hit the road for a pair of games this weekend and then return home on Sunday finishing a three-games-in-three-nights stretch. On Friday, the Scorps play at Texas and on Saturday they travel to Amarillo. The weekend finishes at the Santa Ann Star Center in a re-match versus the Brahmas.
Arizona hosts Rocky Mountain in a pair of games this weekend and the Jacks continue their seven-game road trip (2-2-0 thus far) with games at Bossier-Shreveport and Corpus Christi on Friday and Saturday respectively.
AUSTIN ICE BATS, INTRODUCE YOURSELVES TO THE RIO GRANDE VALLEY KILLER BEES
The Austin Ice Bats have been one of the hottest teams in the CHL over the past month going 10-3-0 in their last 13 games and moving to within one point of the fifth and final playoff spot in the Southern Conference (Amarillo has 40 points, Bats have 39 points). Austin’s post-season fate will be determined somewhat by the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees who beginning tonight play Austin eight times in the Bats final 18 games. This season, the Ice Bats are 3-1 versus the Killer Bees. Each team will host four games in the remaining season series. Also this weekend, the Bats play a home-and-home series with the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs.
PRESSURE MOUNTING ON RAGE AND SUNDOGS
The Rocky Mountain Rage (3-6-1) and the Arizona Sundogs (4-5-1) are both having a difficult time in their last 10 games and hence have seen their divisional leads evaporate. The Rage still holds a five point lead over the Colorado Eagles with four games remaining between the two Northeast Division rivals. The Sundogs have watched the red-hot Scorpions catch them in the Southwest Division and now are tied with both New Mexico and Odessa for first place. The Rage and Sundogs meet this weekend in a pair of games at the Tim’s Toyota Center. It is a re-match of the 2008 CHL All-Star Game for the coaches as Marco Pietroniro lead the Southern Conference to an 11-6 victory in Broomfield, Colorado over the Northern Conference team coached by Rocky Mountain’s Tracy Egeland.
ROOKIES LOOK TO SHINE IN FINAL MONTH OF THE SEASON
The CHL’s Rookie of the Year award is still up in the air several players making a bid. Amarillo’s David Nimmo leads all first-year players in scoring with 47 points (25-22=47) and his 25 goals are the most among any rookie. Arizona’s Mark Kolanos is second in scoring among rookies with 46 points (24-22=46) but he has faltered somewhat as of late posting just two points in his last five games. Laredo’s Andrew Desjardins still has to be considered in the running with 43 points (16-27=43) and New Mexico’s Dominic Osman is third among rookies with 21 goals. Odessa goaltender Alexandre Vincent has had an outstanding freshman season posting a 15-6-4 record with a 2.58 goals against average and .927 save percentage. His four shutouts are second in the league. Other players to keep an eye on down the stretch is Amarillo defenseman Shaun Arvai, Corpus Christi forwards Jon Jankus and Brent Howarth, and the Arizona trio of David Schlemko, Dusty Collins and Jason Visser.
SCORING RACE LOOKING LIKE A TWO-HORSE SHOW
The scoring race in the CHL is looking more and more like a two-man race with Jeff Bes (Laredo) holding a one point lead over Alex Leavitt (Arizona). Bes has 78 points (33-45=78) but has played nine more games than Leavitt who has 77 points (26-51=77). The Sundogs have three more games to play than Laredo giving a slight advantage to Leavitt. Bes has been hotter over the last 10 games posting 17 points compared to Leavitt’s 13 points. In the distance 11 points away are a trio of players with 66 points including Brent Cullaton and Daymen Rycroft of Rocky Mountain and Konrad Reeder of New Mexico.
CHL’s Top Scorers
Jeff Bes (LAR) – 78 points
Alex Leavitt (ARZ) – 77 points
Daymen Rycroft (RMR) – 66 points
Brent Cullaton (RMR) – 66 points
Konrad Reeder (NMX) – 66 points