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Games on the Slate:
Las Vegas Thunderbirds vs. Fresno Monsters
(Photo by Kiel Maddox, Fresno Monsters)
Like last week with Pueblo, the Las Vegas Thunderbirds will be entering their first regular season game in team history. The Thunderbirds will be playing host to last year’s Western Division finalist, Fresno Monsters.
Fresno almost opened last season with a sweep but dropped one game. They will look for a sweep this time as the opportunity presents itself, against an expansion team. But, familiar faces may say otherwise. Vegas picked up five former Long Beach Bombers, including their All-Time Leading Scorer, Tomas Urbanec.
All together, the Thunderbirds have put up a solid roster comprised of mostly former assistant captains and captains. The Monsters are starting the season with a new coach, Trevor Karasiewicz, who will try his first go-around against Las Vegas’s Dave Hyrsky.
Of note, the Monsters opened, last year, scoring to the tune of 20 goals in three games. It will be an exciting, physical game between a western powerhouse and a highly touted expansion team.
Northern Colorado Eagles vs. Utah Outliers
(Photo via UtahOutliers.com)
One of the more evenly matched tilts this weekend is the Northern Colorado Eagles and the Utah Outliers. The two teams were on the verge of reaching steep heights for their organizations. The Eagles had their season overturned in 30-seconds whereas the Outliers were one win from the Thorne Cup but the game-winning horn that sounded off in double-overtime wasn’t for them.
The Eagles and Outliers have a long track record. In their last 15 games going back to the 2016-2017 season, the Eagles own an 11-4 record on the Outliers including a six-game win streak from Nov. 18 to Dec. 4, 2016; They also have the biggest victory by margin, 7-0, within the aforementioned win streak. In total, the Eagles scored 44 goals compared to Utah’s 24 in that same stretch of games.
In 2018-2019 they only played three times and the Eagles won two of the three at the Accord Ice Arena in West Valley, Utah.
Looking into next weekend, the Outliers will host the Southern Oregon Spartans and the Eagles will remain at home to face the Dallas Snipers.
Wichita Jr. Thunder vs. Oklahoma City Jr. Blazers
(Photo by Candace Kutheis Riley, OKC Jr. Blazers)
The Wichita Jr. Thunder will strive for a positive start to the season and must avoid waiting until November for their first win. The Jr. Thunder opened with nine road games, last season, unable to find any type of stride until after a month in.
This year, the Jr. Thunder will begin their season at the Wichita Ice Center versus the Oklahoma City Jr. Blazers. On the other hand, the Jr. Blazers started last season winning 13 of their first 15 games, including two wins against an undefeated Ogden Mustangs.
Oklahoma City swept the season series between the two sides winning all nine games in 2018-2019. Wichita last beat the Jr. Blazers on March 25, 2017, completing four wins in a row over OKC.
Both teams are entering 2019-2020 with new bench bosses. Jr. Thunder Owner, Rob Weingartner, relieved himself of coaching duties to name Matt Summers as head coach. Similarly, Jr. Blazers Owner and General Manager, Gary Gill, stepped down as coach to give Ty Smith a shot at the coaching role.
As for next week, Wichita shifts their attention to the Pueblo Bulls. The Jr. Blazers will have some time off until Oct. 25 to face the Thunder again.
Barrhead Bombers vs. Cold Lake Hornets
The Barrhead Bombers are hosting the Cold Lake Hornets in this newly minted Provincial Division matchup. The Bombers recently relocated from Long Beach Calif. to the province of Alberta, and are on track for a 26th season. As Long Beach, the Bombers qualified for the 2019 Thorne Cup and earned four consecutive division titles. Long time coach, Chris White, is no longer with the team and Todd White is the new head coach.
The Bombers have been a top team for the past several years and it will be interesting to note how their success holds up in Canada.
The Hornets will be commencing their first season in the WSHL. They replaced the former Cold Lake Wings team that no longer is associated to the league. Skating out of the same, Energy Centre, the Hornets are opening on the road with Steve Thompson calling the shots from the bench.
The Bombers will meet the Timberwolves for two games next week leaving the Hornets to match up against the Meadow Lake Mustangs.
West Sound Admirals vs. Bellingham Blazers
(Photo by Jon Bergman)
West Sound is looking at the same start to their season as last year, at least opponent-wise. The Bellingham Blazers are tasked with opening on the road at Bremerton Ice Center for a two game series against the Admirals.
The season series in 2018-2019 was completely owned by the Blazers having won all 15 confrontations. The one difference in this year is that both teams have new head coaches.
Bellingham is with former NHLer, Colten Teubert, and the Admirals along with GM Dave Daniello, have named Pat Hudkins as head coach.
The Admirals will go on a Western Division swing after their opening series taking on the San Diego Sabers and Ontario Avalanche. Bellingham will stay in Washington—for a game—and then gear up to face the Provincial Division’s Edson Aeros and Hinton Timberwolves.
Ogden Mustangs vs. Ontario Avalanche
In what is perhaps the toughest road start by any team, the Ontario Avalanche are visiting two-time Thorne Cup finalist, Ogden Mustangs, for a three game series.
To serve as a reference from last season, the Avalanche earned wins against top Western Division teams such as Long Beach and Fresno. They also picked up wins against non-divisional teams including the Southern Oregon Spartans and West Sound Admirals.
The two teams have never played each other before and Ogden’s Olympic ice sheet is known to give teams problems.
The Mustangs haven’t lost a game in their home opening series since losing to the Outliers in 2017-2018. Ontario was able to snag a road win, last season, when they opened in Fresno. The Avalanche have been opening on the road since the 2016-2017 season and each time were able to win at least a game.
West Sound comes to SoCal to take on the Avalanche next week and then Ogden will venture on their road trip to Steamboat Springs where the Wranglers await for three games.
Edson Aeros vs. Hinton Timberwolves
The top team in the Provincial Division is returning to action against the Hinton Timberwolves. The Aeros proved—in their first season—that they can skate with the best. Coach Bernie Lynch is pushing for the same fast start from his side that host a brand new Timberwolves squad.
The Timberwolves replaced the former Wildcats team that no longer is associated to the league. Hinton recently made a big splash in acquiring one of Bellingham Blazer’s top scorers, Jamahl Eakett. The move brings scoring ability to the team who already has former Wildcat standouts.
Edson terrorized the Provincial Division all year. To start the season they won 7 of their first 8 games and then bested the Northwest Division teams with the exception of Bellingham.
The Aeros will have little action next weekend and will, again, play the Hinton Timberwolves before welcoming the Bellingham Blazers and Seattle Totems to Repsol Place in two weeks time. The Timberwolves will see the Barrhead Bombers for two games prior to their meeting with Edson next week.
Dallas Snipers (oW-0L-1OTL-2OTW) vs. El Paso Rhinos
(Photo by Michelle Holcomb, Dallas Snipers)
The rivalry is about the same size as the state they are in or the distance between the two arenas. Back-to-Back Thorne Cup Champions El Paso Rhinos are starting their campaign on the road versus an improving Snipers team.
The Snipers are recovering from three overtime games last week when welcoming the Pueblo Bulls. Winning 6-5SO the first night, and 3-2OT the second night, Dallas now has five points going into their second series of the season.
El Paso has the better of Dallas. In their last 11 games, El Paso has 10 wins dropping only a single game on Feb. 3 at the Star Center. The most recent matchup dealt the Snipers their final blow of the season eliminating them in the Mid-Western Division Semi-Final.
Dallas will want to keep things locked-in on the back-end. The Rhinos had to open in Dallas last year as well and scored 22 goals in the three games, only conceding three. In total, the Rhinos put 79 goals past Dallas in their 11 games.
Next week, Dallas will hit the road for Northern Colorado and the Rhinos will make the trek to Southern California and square off against Valencia.
Valencia Flyers vs. San Diego Sabers
These two teams know each other very well going back and forth in the Western Division. Their history points to one team always having the upper hand by a significant margin. San Diego takes the season series last year going 7-3 against the Flyers. But when looking at their last 25 games, Valencia actually owns the series 15-10 scoring 101 goals compared to San Diego’s 83.
The Sabers opened on the road in Valencia last year. They won the game in overtime, 5-4, with Jakub Vesely scoring 2 goals and one helper. Conversely, this year’s start will have the Flyers driving down south to face the Sabers in San Diego. The last time Valencia won in San Diego they completed a three game series sweep on March 4, 2018.
Both teams are starting the season with new head coaches. The Sabers brought on David Vychodil in the middle of last season and will lead the team this year whereas the Flyers are no longer with Justin Dyke and moved assistant coach Shane McColgan to the head coaching role.
Watch every game LIVE on Black Dog Hockey: https://www.bdehockey.com/home.php