Weekly Mid-Western Division Preview (11/19 - 11/22)
DALLAS SNIPERS (9-8-1)
The second-place Dallas Snipers host the division-leading Oklahoma City Jr. Blazers for three games at Dr. Pepper Star Center this weekend, giving them a prime opportunity to close the seven-point gap between the two clubs. In order to do that, Dallas will have to improve upon their 4-7-1 home record.
The Snipers have just one win – and that one in overtime – in their last five games.
Dusan Olsa leads Dallas with 12 goals. He has not scored any power plays goals yet this season, but has notched five shorthanded.
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EL PASO RHINOS (3-5-1)
The El Paso Rhinos took a five-game losing streak (0-4-1) with them when they left for Southern California mid-week. They will try to get things going in the right direction with games against the Long Beach Bombers (Thursday/Saturday) and Valencia Flyers (Friday). They went 2-1-0 with wins over the Flyers and Bombers (in overtime) on their October trip to SoCal.
Following Thanksgiving, the Rhinos will travel to Wichita for a three-game series with the Jr. Thunder November 27-29.
El Paso’s five straight losses have all come on home ice.
Ryan Buttazoni has started six of nine games for the Rhinos, recording all three of their wins with a record of 3-2-1.
Click here to see video of the Rhinos in action at Sierra Providence Events Center.
OKLAHOMA CITY JR. BLAZERS (13-3-0)
The Oklahoma City Jr. Blazers have managed to stay in first place in the Mid-West Division despite being the most penalized team in the division.
OKC has only allowed seven power play goals in just over 178 minutes of shorthanded time – almost three full games worth. That equates to a 2.36 goals-against average while shorthanded – a pretty amazing statistic.
SPRINGFIELD EXPRESS (7-7-4)
The Springfield Express begin a six-game home stand this weekend where they will host the team they are tied with (Wichita), then the team that is two points behind them (Tulsa) next weekend.
Those two series will give all three teams a chance to establish a foothold in a tight division race that has four teams separated by three points.
The Express took five of a possible six points from Wichita when they hosted the Jr. Thunder to open the season September 18-20.
TULSA JR. OILERS (8-8-0)
The Tulsa Jr. Oilers, winners of four of their last six games, take it easy this weekend before heading to Oklahoma City for a single game next Wednesday, then Springfield for a three-game series November 27-29.
The Jr. Oilers have not played since a 4-3 loss to OKC at Oilers Ice Center November 11.
Tulsa net-minder Richard Albrecht has represented Mexico seven times in international competition at the U18 and U20 levels. He was voted best Goaltender at the 2012 IIHF U18 Division III tournament, helping the Mexican team to a bronze medal. He won silver medals with Mexico at the same event in 2010 and 2011.
Albrecht, in his second season with the Jr. Oilers, has also played junior hockey on the East Coast with the Philadelphia Jr. Flyers of the Metropolitan Junior Hockey League.
WICHITA JR. THUNDER (9-9-0)
They may be tied for third place, but the Wichita Jr. Thunder have scored the most goals in the Mid-West Division.
A group of seven players is scoring over a point-per-game for Wichita this season, led by top scorers Jet Bell (14-19-33), Zachary Balodis (6-18-24) and Jack McClelland (8-14-22).
If they are able to cut down on their shots against they have a real shot at contending for the division championship. Jr. Thunder goaltenders have been facing almost 45 shots per game.