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NAHL Weekend Preview

March 9, 2018
The 2017-18 NAHL regular season ends in less than a month and the final push is well underway with several teams having 10 games or less to earn valuable points in the rush to make the Robertson Cup Playoffs. 23 games highlight the schedule this weekend. 
 
It was another great week for the NAHL, as six more players made NCAA commitments, brining the 2017-18 season total to 183 to date entering the weekend.
 
Four teams (Fairbanks Ice Dogs, Shreveport Mudbugs, Philadelphia Rebels, and Janesville Jets) have already clinched playoff spots, meaning there are just 13 spots left to be had.
 
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In the Central Division, more key division games are on tap as all teams are still in the mix. Division-leading Aberdeen takes on the 4th place Bismarck Bobcats in a home-and-home series. The last time the Wings gave up a goal was in their 2-1 overtime win on February 24th against the Bobcats. The team chasing the Bobcats for the 4th and final playoff spot is the Minot Minotauros. Minot cut the deficit to four points with a 4-1 win over Bismarck on Wednesday and this weekend will host the Minnesota Wilderness, who are in 3rd place. 10 points out of the 4th and final playoff spot sits the Brookings Blizzard, who face a must-win weekend as they travel to the 2nd place Austin Bruins.
 
In the East Division, it seems just a matter of time before the Philadelphia Rebels claim the division title as they have a 17 point lead atop the division with just 11 games remaining. Two more of those games take place this weekend  as they take on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights, with the Saturday game being at the Wells Fargo Arena, the home of the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers. The other series in the East features a must-win weekend for the Johnstown Tomahawks as they are in New Jersey for three games. The Tomahawks are 13 points behind the idle Northeast Generals for the 4th and final playoff spot with just 11 games to go.
 
Things have taken shape in the Midwest Division as the top four teams have separated themselves. Division-leading Fairbanks looks to close in on the division title with a home series against the 4th place Jr. Blues. If the season ended today, this would be a 1st round playoff match-up. Despite having their 24-game winning streak snapped last weekend in Shreveport, the Ice Dogs still have not lost a game in regulation in 33 straight games. The other series has the 2nd place Janesville Jets at the Kenai River Brown Bears. The 3rd place Minnesota Magicians will take to the road for one game this weekend on Friday in Coulee Region.
 
In the South Division, more playoff spots can be clinched as the 2nd place Lone Star Brahmas need just a few points to become the second team in the division to punch their post-season ticket. They will travel to take on the 3rd place Odessa Jackalopes, who sit just four points back of the 2nd place Brahmas. The Amarillo Bulls play three games this weekend, including two must-win games at home on Friday and Saturday against the 4th place Corpus Christi IceRays. The Bulls sit 9 points back for the 4th and final playoff spot. They will also take to the road on Sunday to face Odessa. The final series has the Shreveport Mudbugs closing in the South title with two games against Topeka.
 
Friday, March 9
Johnstown at New Jersey - 7:00 PM EST
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at Philadelphia - 7:10 PM EST
MN Magicians at Coulee Region - 7:00 PM CST
Corpus Christi at Amarillo - 7:05 PM CST
Brookings at Austin - 7:05 PM CST
Lone Star at Odessa - 7:11 PM CST
Topeka at Shreveport - 7:11 PM CST
Aberdeen at Bismarck - 7:15 PM CST
MN Wilderness at Minot - 7:35 PM CST
Springfield at Fairbanks - 7:30 PM AKST
Janesville at Kenai River - 7:30 PM AKST
 
Saturday, March 10
Johnstown at New Jersey - 7:00 PM EST
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at Philadelphia - 7:05 PM EST
Corpus Christi at Amarillo - 7:05 PM CST
Brookings at Austin - 7:05 PM CST
Lone Star at Odessa - 7:11 PM CST
Topeka at Shreveport - 7:11 PM CST
Bismarck at Aberdeen - 7:15 PM CST
MN Wilderness at Minot - 7:35 PM CST
Springfield at Fairbanks - 7:30 PM AKST
Janesville at Kenai River - 7:30 PM AKST
 
Sunday, March 11
Johnstown at New Jersey - 3:00 PM EDT
Amarillo at Odessa - 5:11 PM CDT
 
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