GAMES ON THE SLATE:
VALENCIA FLYERS VS. SAN DIEGO SABERS
After opening their season against each other in San Diego, the two teams will meet again in Valencia tonight. Both teams are playing multiple games over the weekend but the Sabers and Flyers will only play once against each other.
The Flyers were able to secure a 5-4(OT) victory in San Diego earlier this season in a game where both teams held the lead. Tristan Warr and Michael Onda stood out as key players for Valencia whereas San Diego relied on Caleb Travis and Cole Rorick.
Warr’s return is still questionable who has been out with an upper-body injury since the two teams played at the start of the season.
In total, five Flyers had points including, Warr, to inspire the road win. Flyer’s Nikita Garin had the game-winning goal in overtime.
VALENCIA FLYERS VS. FRESNO MONSTERS
(Photo by Aaron Provencio, Fresno Monsters)
The Flyers and Monsters have yet to play this season and the Ice Station Valencia will see the first installment of this long-time Western Division rivalry. The Monsters took the overwhelming lead in the season series last year winning eight of ten meetings including seven straight wins. The new season series will begin with a two-game series.
The Monsters will be skating with extra fire this series, as they haven’t been able to find a win yet. Fresno dropped their first four games to the Las Vegas Thunderbirds. Valencia has one win in the season, to a Western Division rival, and is looking to bounce back from a sweep by the El Paso Rhinos.
Fresno received a big boost this week with the announcement that standout goalie, Max Karlenzig, has returned and will start this weekend. Karlenzig has never lost against Valencia.
While the Flyers may be without Warr, the Monsters lost top scorer, Petr Philippov, who is in the NAHL.
ONTARIO AVALANCHE VS. SAN DIEGO SABERS
The Avalanche and Sabers are looking at only one game against each other this weekend but it will be a continuation of last week’s series. Ontario was able to take two wins from the traveling Sabers on 5-2 and 5-1 scores in Anaheim. The Avalanche will hope to work for a third consecutive win over San Diego to stay at second place in the division.
Tanner Turcotte had five points in two games against the Sabers including two goals. Arturo Escamilla and Jesse Tkach both had two goals in the series also. For the Sabers, Petr Teuber, Ondrej Vaculik, and Samuel Kapusta all scored.
Of note, Ontario’s Nicholas Abernathy had one goal and one assist, but scored four goals in a game against San Diego on Feb. 17.
Like last week, this game will be played in Anaheim, which is the penultimate game of San Diego’s four game road trip.
ONTARIO AVALANCHE VS. LAS VEGAS THUNDERBIRDS
The series is first of its kind as the Thunderbirds continue their inaugural tour of the Western Division. Las Vegas is entering its first road game of the season after successfully defending home ice in four wins over the Monsters at Sobe Ice Arena.
Although the Thunderbirds haven’t seen Ontario before, they are equipped with players who are experienced against them. One of T-Birds leading scorers, Tomas Urbanec, had five points in two games against Ontario late last season including three goals and two assists. Defenseman, Christoffer Juvas, had four points in the same two games with two goals and two assists.
ONTARIO AVALANCHE VS. FRESNO MONSTERS
(Photo by Aaron Provencio, Fresno Monsters)
The Avalanche will conclude its five game home stand against the Fresno Monsters who dominated them last year. Fresno won eight out of the 11 games last season with an 11-4 win being the widest victory by margin.
The Avalanche will hope to use home ice to their advantage as the three wins they did earn came at home. However, that was at the Ontario Center Ice Arena and the Avs are now settled in at The Rinks—Anaheim Ice.
HINTON TIMBERWOLVES VS. SEATTLE TOTEMS
The U.S./Canada Showdown comes a tad bit earlier this season with Northwest Division teams heading to the provinces. The Seattle Totems will spark the cross division matchups against the Hinton Timberwolves at the Murray Rec. Center.
The Totems have good memories of playing in the Murray Rec. Center and they don’t have to think that far back. Seattle stormed Hinton in last year’s showdown with a big 10-5 win over the Wildcats. It was a 12-man effort on the score sheet with twelve players finding points for Seattle.
Of the players who scored that will be playing in this game includes Cameron Waisman and Henry Waite. Waisman had two goals and one assist and Waite had one assist. Zack Zielinski also played but did not register a point.
Hinton has a few more players who will want to avenge the 10-5 loss. Dimitri Buttazzoni, Brendan Auger, Dawson Basnett, Jacob Arsenault, and Seth Ulmer skated for Hinton and are now with the Timberwolves. Auger led the five players with two goals and one assist and Ulmer had a goal.
SEATTLE TOTEMS VS. EDSON AEROS
The Totems fortune in Canada didn’t fare so well against the eventual Provincial Division Champions. The Aeros routed the Totems 6-1 and 5-4(OT) in two games at Repsol Place. Eight Aeros players shared in points. Of the players who found points that will play in this game includes Kevin Lundin, Quentin Stempfel, and recently re-signed, Sebastian Heden.
Lundin scored two goals and three assists in the two games; Stempfel had three goals and one assist; Heden had two goals and three assists.
The Totems saw scoring from Cameron Waisman on both nights putting up one assist and one goal. The game against Edson will conclude Seattle’s Canadian swing and won’t see a Provincial team until next month when the Aeros and Timberwolves return the favor at Olympicview Arena.
EDSON AEROS VS. BELLINGHAM BLAZERS
The Bellingham Blazers split their only two games against the Edson Aeros last season. The first meeting saw the Blazers to a 4-1 win at Repsol Place dealing the Aeros a rare home loss at that point of the season.
None of the players that scored for the Blazers in that first game, other than Deva Shahi, will play in this game. Shahi had one assist while Jamahl Eakett had one goal and two assists but is now with the Timberwolves.
The Blazers may have had the first laugh but the Aeros avenged their lose with a 6-1 win in the round-robin of the 2019 Thorne Cup Finals. Edson improved greatly through out the season and showed up as a different team.
Heden, Lundin, and Stempfel also scored in the round-robin game. Lundin lead the trio with two goals and two assists.
BELLINGHAM BLAZERS VS. HINTON TIMBERWOLVES
This game will be one for the books, at least for Jamahl Eakett who will skate against his former team. Eakett places among the Blazers All-Time Leaders in multiple categories and will look for his first career goal/point against the Blazers.
When Eakett was on the Blazers, he led the team with four goals and three assists in two games against Hinton. They made light work of the Wildcats in the first game blanking them 7-0. Kolter Pawlick was in net for the shutout and Avery Heath for the second game that was won 5-2. Neither of the net minders are with Bellingham this season.
This game in particular may be awkward for some because the tale of the tape points to the Blazers as favorite. Bellingham has two worthy opponents ahead of them—in the Aeros and Timberwolves—if they want to avoid losing four in a row after losing to Seattle last weekend.
MEADOW LAKE MUSTANGS VS. BARRHEAD BOMBERS
The Barrhead Bombers return to action and will pay the Meadow Lake Mustangs a visit for two games. The two teams have never played each other but it is worth noting that Meadow Lake’s Erik Ehrmantraut is a former Bomber. Ehrmantraut played for the team in Long Beach and had six goals with four assists as a Bomber. Meadow Lake finished second to last in their division last season after experiencing a slow start, compared to the Bombers who were Western Division Champions.
Barrhead is coming off lopsided losses to the Timberwolves and will strive to turn things around whereas the Mustangs started off on the right foot with a single win over the Cold Lake Hornets.
COLD LAKE HORNETS VS. BARRHEAD BOMBERS
The Bombers began their season at home against the Hornets and skated past them with ease. Winning 9-2 and 10-2, the Bombers weren’t really challenged but will have a second look at the Hornets for a single game.
The Wings will need to be mindful of several different players who scored multiple goals against them but most of all, Austin Strathdee and Dimitro Kobylnyk, who each had hat-tricks.
Anson Smith proved to be the most effective for Cold Lake registering points in both nights. Cold Lake is coming back with a more complete bench and should put forth a stronger game this time around.
SOUTHERN OREGON SPARTANS VS. WEST SOUND ADMIRALS
Southern Oregon is the last team to start their season as their opening series with the Outliers was postponed. So, the Spartans will host the Admirals for two games which sparks Southern Oregon’s five game home stretch to begin the year.
West Sound dropped their first two games against the Bellingham Blazers and already were tested by a potential top team. The Spartans won seven of nine games over the Admirals last season. Although the Admirals only stole two wins, they were able to score 11 goals between the two wins.
Southern Oregon is returning two players from last year with Yuval Halpert and Jeffrey Gula. Halpert only played in nine games but tallied five points and Gula 21 points in 47 games with the Spartans. They recently acquired Luke Perry from the Rhinos and will play this weekend.
OGDEN MUSTANGS VS. UTAH OUTLIERS
(Photo by Tim Broussard, Ogden Mustangs)
One of the more heated rivalries in the league comes in the form of the Ogden Mustangs vs. Utah Outliers. After battling through a tight Mountain Division Finals, both sides will rekindle the fire as members of the Northwest Division.
The teams will share in a home-and-home series with the first game in Ogden. We saw this series to begin the 2018-2019 season and Ogden won both games on route to five wins in a row over Utah—The biggest victory was a 7-1 win.
Ogden claimed the season series 10-2 but each game was an all out battle.
Despite dropping 10 games to Ogden, the Outliers eventually earned a win and became only the second team to defeat them up until that point. They were also only the second team to defeat them in home ice, which was in the division finals.
STEAMBOAT WRANGLERS VS. PUEBLO BULLS
Another matchup first of its kind is the Wranglers taking on the Pueblo Bulls. This will be Steamboat’s second series of the year and it comes as a much needed breather already. The Wranglers were tasked with opening against the Ogden Mustangs and were defeated by wide margins in three games.
Pueblo has seen multiple opponents already and are entering this series with much more confidence. The Bull’s most recent sweep of division rival, Wichita Jr. Thunder, and tight opening series with the Dallas Snipers, should suffice as an indication for the Wranglers as to what kind of team the Bulls are.
Pueblo’s Ondrej Blaha comes to this series with two hat-tricks under his belt and leads the second highest scorer, in this series, Brock McQuistan, by more than double his points.
WICHITA JR. THUNDER VS. NORTHERN COLORADO EAGLES
After positive results in their first two series, the Eagles will embark on a six game road trip starting in Wichita. The Jr. Thunder are still looking for their first win of the series and will need to find one quick with teams quickly earning points.
Fortunately for Wichita, they proved they can beat the Eagles when looking at their 2018-2019 season series. They lost five of six games but their win came late in the season when the Eagle’s were pushing for a higher seed to start playoffs.
Northern Colorado has several players from last year that remember playing against Wichita. More notably, Eric Hildebrand, Jacob Elik, Tyler Trombly Brennan McFarland, and Sean McMahon registered points against the Jr. Thunder.