The South Division Race is Tightest Division Race in the NAHL
NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, TX– When examining current division races in the NAHL, it’s easy to observe that each division has a clear, stand-out leader of the pack and a gaggle of above-average teams trying to make up more than a few points – with hopes of supplanting that leader, and thus punching a ticket to the playoffs for the Robertson Cup. At the midway point of the season, total points separating any first place team from the fourth place team can serve as a reliable measurement of the overall strength of a division. The reasoning being, the top of the heap will separate themselves into contenders, and the second half of the season games will gain steam and a stronger sense of urgency for those teams within reach of the top.
In the East, twelve points separate the first place Titans from the fourth place Rebels. In the Midwest, nine points separate the first place Ice Dogs from the fourth place Magicians. In the Central the parity is less obvious with six points separating the first place Bruins from the fourth place Bulls. Side note: The Bulls, in their first season in the Central since relocating from Amarillo, are the one team keenly aware of the strength of schedule for each team in the South.
And then, there is the South. Four points separate the first place Ice Wolves and your Lone Star Brahmas in fourth place. Four points can be won or lost by any of these top four teams in the south before MLK Day arrives. Four points is the same measurement of separation between first and fourth places last week, and the week before that. Along with the Ice Wolves and Brahmas, the top four teams in the South rounds out with tonights’ Brahmas opponent, the Odessa Jackalopes, and next weekend’s Brahmas opponent, the Amarillo Wranglers.
The South, the only division in the NAHL with the team that won the whole enchilada in 2020-21 in the ranks. One might have presumed Brahmas arch-rival and defending Robertson Cup champion Shreveport Mudbugs would be in this mix of top half contenders, however this is not the case as of yet. In fact, one might argue that this season’s South division race is currently emphasized by a reversal of fortunes for some of these teams by comparison to the results of last season. Most notably the emergence of the Ice Wolves leading the pack, albeit a slim margin, most of this season.
This is the scenic path to a notion that it’s important to understand the results of four games from last week to gain a competent perspective of what is in store for the Brahmas over the next couple weeks. Surely, we should need to examine the two games the Brahmas played against the last-place Rhinos, resulting in a weekend split at the Shoebox. Additionally, we are well-advised to examine the results of the Odessa Jackalopes’ most recent opponent as well. These results are of particular relevance because the Jacks played a road trip against the Amarillo Wranglers – the very same opponent the Brahmas will face on the road next week. Let’s have a look at those games now.
Last weekend: Brahmas vs Rhinos Recap
Friday Jan7 – El Paso 2 @ Lone Star 4:
A pair of early goals from Frankie Ireland and Logan Tobias set the tone for the Lone Star victory over El Paso. Tobias scored his first goal of the season for Lone Star. An additional pair of Brahmas goals were delivered in the second period by Artur Turansky, and Nicholas Niemo. El Paso certainly kept the match interesting with a second period goal from Nate Mann, complimented with another in the third from Nathan Gagne, also his first of the season. Brahmas net minder Austin Schwab made 21 saves in the victory whereas Rhinos’ Jacob Zacharewicz faced defeat with 33 stops.
Saturday Jan8 – El Paso 6 @ Lone Star 4:
Matt Johnson scored two goals to leading the El Paso Rhinos to a 6-4 win over the Lone Star Brahmas with a flurry of goals from Jonathan Horn, Graham Harris, Maksis Brimanis and Donovan O’Neil. Brahmas AC Dylan Smith led the strong effort by Lone Star with a goal and an assist. Jack Collins, Nicholas Niemo and Carter Cloutier also scored goals in the Saturday night effort but fell short of the red hot Rhinos. Jacob Zacharewicz got his first win as a Rhino stoppIng 25 shots on goal. Austin Schwab took the loss in net for the Brahmas with 20 saves.
Last weekend: Odessa vs Wranglers Recap
Friday Jan7 – Odessa 5 @ Amarillo 4 (OT):
Odessa forward John Perdion scored the OT winner 38 seconds into extra time to help Odessa edge past the Wranglers. After an early Jackalopes goal from Ryan Kusler, Amarillo piled on three consecutive from TJ Koufis, Kristaps Skrastins, and Dominic Schimizzi. Logan Cleary also added another for the Wranglers later in the 3rd. Odessa was able to claw back from a two goal deficit and take the contest to overtime thanks to Dayne Hoyord, Ryan Kusler, and Ryan Kelly each lighting the lamp in the 3rd. While William Proctor and Noah Rupprecht each spent time between the pipes for Odessa, Rupprecht earned the victory with 24 saves. Max Gutjahr made 29 saves for Amarillo.
Satuday Jan8 – Odessa 3 @ Amarillo 5:
Five different players shared the load of five goals as the Amarillo Wranglers beat the Odessa Jackalopes 5-3, and splitting the weekend series. The final score does not indicate the first half of the match. By the midway point of the game, Glebs Prohorenkovs, Ben Biester, Aidan Carney and Jayden Price all scored to put the Wranglers up a decisive 4-0 lead over the Jacks. Ty Neckar, Ryan Mansfield and Evan Orr lit the lamps for Odessa to bring the Jacks within a goal. Later, Drayton Todoroff put home an empty net goal to put the game into lockdown. Max Gutjahr was the winner in goal as he made 25 save for Amarillo. Noah Rupprecht made 26 stops for Odessa in the loss.
WHAT ABOUT SOCIAL?
TWO home games this weekend, Brahmaland! Your #LSB go toe-to-toe with the Odessa Jackalopes to advance in the standings — will we see you there? Post-game skate on Saturday as well for everyone who buys a ticket!
Get tickets: https://buff.ly/2WPwhRR
COVER PHOTO: CLICKS BY CANDICE