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CHL Northern Conference Still Tight

Monday, Mar. 10th, 2008

There are five teams who are all firmly above the .500 mark in the Northern Conference who are faced with the prospects that one of them is going to be out of the post-season. The final two weeks of the CHL’s regular season (final game is on Saturday, March 22nd) is going to be the equivalent of the playoffs as one loss could mean you’re not advancing to the “real” Ray Miron President’s Cup Championship.

The first duel this week is on Tuesday and Wednesday when the Northwest Division leading Colorado Eagles look to continue their momentum against the slumping Rocky Mountain Rage in a home-and-home series. Should the Eagles come away with four points in the next two games, they would have a six point lead in the division with five games remaining for both clubs. For the Rage, they could regain first place with a pair of wins and put aside the bad memories of a 10-13-2 record since the all-star break (Colorado is 14-8-0 over the same stretch).

Three teams in the Northeast Division have put away any hope of catching the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs for first place in the division but they are all playing as well as any team in the league and vying for the third seed in the Northern Conference thus avoiding a best-of-three Opening Round series and moving directly in to the Second Round with a best-of-seven series. The Youngstown SteelHounds have the edge right now with 73 points thanks to their 6-1-1 record over the last eight games. The Brahmas are in the fifth spot with 72 points and are 18-3-1 in his last 22 games. Mississippi has 71 points and just finished a four-game road trip with a 3-0-1 record including wins in Colorado and Rocky Mountain.

Saturday night’s games produced a pair of CHL players as members in the “Century Club” with both notching four points in their teams wins. Arizona’s Alex Leavitt had two goals and two assists in the Sundogs 8-3 win at Amarillo moving his league-leading point total to 103 points (33-70=103). Laredo’s Jeff Bes wasn’t to be outdone as he had a goal and three assists in the Bucks 4-2 win versus Bossier-Shreveport giving him 100 points (43-57=100). Arizona has two games in hand on Laredo giving Leavitt possibly the edge towards winning the Joe Burton Scoring Championship.

Twice this past week games were decided with penalty shots in overtime. On Wednesday, Mississippi dropped a 3-2 decision in Wichita as Kyle Bruce scored versus Sebastien Centomo on a penalty shot with three seconds remaining in overtime. The Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees equaled the task with Josh Bonar scoring on a penalty shot versus Miguel Beaudry during a 3-2 Bees win on Sunday.

In what was a critical weekend to the playoff hopes for the Corpus Christi Rayz, Jason Tapp put on two outstanding performances earning a 3-2 win versus Bossier-Shreveport on Friday and a 6-2 win versus Odessa on Saturday. The great week from Tapp earns him Oakley CHL Goaltender of the Week honors for the second time this season. Joe Blaznek has gotten hot at the right time scoring goals in five straight games (6G). The Rayz are three points behind Austin for the fifth and final Southern Conference playoff spot.

The Sundogs will play six of their final seven games at home and last Thursday won their 13th road game of the season passing last year’s road win total…Wichita’s Jason Duda is four assists shy of 500 in his CHL career…Wichita’s Travis Clayton played in his 700th pro game on Friday…The RiverKings are 18-3-2 versus the teams of the Northwest Division…Colorado’s Sebastien Laplante is 6-1-0 at home with the Eagles with a 2.28 GAA and a .932 save percentage…Texas scored five goals in 5:53 in Sunday’s game at Oklahoma City…Rocky Mountain’s Brent Cullaton has an 11-game point streak (20 points).

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