Weekly Mid-West Division Preview (10/15 - 10/18)
DALLAS SNIPERS (4-1-1)
The last two games of the Dallas Snipers’ series in Denver against the Colorado Evolution last weekend were decided by a single goal, including a 3-2 overtime win on Saturday. But six points is six points, and it was enough to put the Snipers in second place in the division.
The sweep in Colorado pushed the Dallas win streak to four games.
Michael Tugo, a 19-year-old from Estonia, scored a hat trick in Friday’s 4-1 win and added the OT winner on Sunday. Tugo spent last season with the Wilkes-Barre Miners of the NA3EHL where he produced 30 points (14-16-30) in 35 regular season games and added eight points (5-3-8) in five playoff contests.
EL PASO RHINOS (0-0-0)
As Tom Petty said: “The waiting is the hardest part”…The El Paso Rhinos will have 12 games in hand on the first-place Springfield Express by the time they open their season with a three-game California trip October 23-25.
El Paso has been to the Thorne Cup final each of the last two seasons – defeating the Idaho Jr. Steelheads in the championship game of the 2014 tournament, the falling to Idaho three games to one in last year’s best-of-five championship series format.
OKLAHOMA CITY JR. BLAZERS (2-1-0)
Oklahoma City has not been much more active than El Paso, playing just three games so far. They will get a strong test this weekend when they host the first-place Springfield Express for three games at Blazers Ice Center.
It appears 19-year-old Tomas Rubes has adapted well to the North American game. The 5’8”, 165-pound native of the Czech Republic scored four goals in the season-opening series at Wichita October 2-4.
Rubes had played his entire career in the HC Karlovy Vary system until coming to OKC to join the Jr. Blazers this season.
Click here to see the new seats installed at Blazers Ice Center.
SPRINGFIELD EXPRESS (5-2-2)
The Express have been filling score sheets in more ways than one. Springfield leads the division in both goals (46) and penalty minutes (151).
Their top two scorers, Linus Dahlberg (7-15-22) and Michael Crawford (5-14-19) are also their top two penalized players with 22 and 19 PIM, respectively.
The Express and the Missouri State Ice Bears hosted “Pink the Rink” events for breast cancer awareness last weekend.
Both teams donned custom pink hockey jerseys and played on pink ice, raising money for Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks.
The Express fell to the Tulsa Jr. Oilers, 4-3 in overtime, and Missouri State topped the University of Alabama, 3-2.
Click here to see the pink ice at MediaCom Ice Park
TULSA JR. OILERS (3-3-0)
The Jr. Oilers kick off a six-game homestand with three games in Tulsa against the Superior RoughRiders this weekend. They come home with some momentum after two road wins and a one-goal loss at Springfield.
In his second season in the league, 20-year-old Maxim Chegrintsev has established himself as one of the top goal scorers in the WSHL. The 6’2”, 185-pound forward as nine goals in the first eight games of the season – this after potting 16 goals in his 13-game stint with Tulsa last season.
In 2013-14 the Kazan, Russia native tallied 51 goals in just 45 games with the Fort Wayne Federals of the MNJHL.
Click here to see the Jr. Oilers re-designed sweaters
WICHITA JR. THUNDER (3-6-0)
Wichita’s Erik Spath (pictured above) has been one of the top net-minders in the WSHL this season. The 6’4”, 210-pound Swede has played in eight of the team’s first nine games, facing a total of 393 shots and registering 362 saves. No other goalie in the league has reached 200 saves yet this season.
His 3-4-0 record and 4.21 goals-against average are even more impressive when considering the sheer amount of rubber he has faced this season and his sterling .921 save percentage.
Spath played his entire career in his native Sweden with the Nynashamns IF program before coming to Kansas to play in the WSHL.
Click here by October 17 at 11:59 p.m. and get Jr. Thunder gear.