Weekly Mid-West Division Preview (10/29 - 11/1)
DALLAS SNIPERS (7-4-1)
The Dallas Snipers, who boast a 5-1-0 road record, are idle this week. They will be back on the ice November 6-8 when they host the Springfield Express.
Erik Svensson, who scored 30 goals in 44 games for the Snipers last season, is off to a good start in his pro career back in his native Sweden. Svensson has scored three goals and one assist in eight games with Kallereds (Division 2).
Click here to see a list of Snipers alumni playing professionally
EL PASO RHINOS (2-1-0)
El Paso finally got their season underway last weekend with a trip to California where they picked up wins over Valencia and Long Beach. Alex Smith led the team with seven points (2-5-7) and Ryan Buttazzoni started all three games, making 101 saves on the weekend.
The Rhinos open their home schedule this weekend with three games against the Wichita Jr. Thunder.
The St. Mary’s University hockey team (NCAA DIII) begins its’ season this weekend with four former Rhinos on the varsity roster: Chad Cesarz, Drew DePalma, Jack Strusz and Chris Wilhite. All four players are sophomores.
Cesarz was second on the team with 13 goals last season as the Cardinals went 15-9-2.
Click here to access the player bios through the SMU roster.
OKLAHOMA CITY JR. BLAZERS (8-1-0)
The Jr. Blazers welcome the Cheyenne Stampede to Blazers Ice Center for three games this weekend. In their only other home series this season, OKC swept three games from the Springfield Express.
The Jr. Blazers, who enter the weekend in first place in the Mid-West Division, will try to stash away some valuable points as they will be off the following weekend.
6’6” goaltender Filip Kostka, who Oklahoma City GM/coach Tyler Fleck brought in from Ostrava, Czech Republic, has been a revelation between the pipes. Kostka has a perfect 6-0-0 record with a 1.72 goals-against average and a .934 save percentage.
Click here to see Kostka’s career statistics on www.eliteprospects.com
SPRINGFIELD EXPRESS (5-3-4)
The Springfield Express did jump into first place early in the Mid-West Division but, after taking last weekend and this weekend off, they have fallen to a tie for third place in the points race and could fall as far as fifth before they get back onto the ice November 6-8 at Dallas.
Nick Bretzger has seen the bulk of the action in net for the Express and has only suffered one regulation loss (3-1-4). Bretzger, 20, played 34 games in the WSHL last season for Lake Tahoe after stints in the NPHL and USPHL.
Click here to get on board the Springfield Express.
TULSA JR. OILERS (5-7-0)
The Tulsa Jr. Oilers will try to collect enough points in Colorado this weekend to surpass the idle Express. The Jr. Oilers play three games against the Colorado Evolution at Big Bear Arena in Denver.
Tulsa, which has dropped four of its’ last five games, sits in fifth place in the division – four points behind Springfield with six points on the table this weekend.
Maxim Chegrintsev (15) and Sam Mancini (13) have accounted for 28 of Tulsa’s 44 goals.
Click here to see Les Stockton’s photo gallery from Friday’s game vs. Dallas
WICHITA JR. THUNDER (7-8-0)
Wichita finds themselves just two points out of first place in the division, but they have played at least three more games than every other team in the division.
The Jr. Thunder have taken two of three in each of their last two series – at Dallas and Cheyenne. They go to Sierra Providence Events Center in El Paso, TX as the Rhinos play their long-awaited home opener.
The Jr. Thunder are the highest-scoring team in the Mid-West Division. Six Wichita skaters have six or more goals and eight are in double-digits in points. Wichita has also scored 22 power play goals in their first 15 games.
The team is hoping to add even more offense with their latest addition.
Click here to read the press release on Wichita’s signing of Czech forward Marc Zajic.