Wednesday, October 6, 2010

NAHL South Division Report: Tornado Trades paying off Quickly

Here's a look at the NAHL on the weekly South Division Report on the Texas Tornado recent trades that are paying off very quickly. After a bit of shaky start where the Tornado went 2-1-1 in the NAHL Blaine Showcase and then a weekend where they lost all 3 games the week after (2 In OT). The Tornado have made some moves like bringing in Jimmy Kruger.

Since then the Tornado have won 5 in a row and have gotten into a log jam with the Amarillo Bulls and the Topeka Roadrunners in a three way tie for 2nd Place with 15 points and is just one point back of Division leading Wichita Falls who have stumbled by losing 4 of their last 5.

As for the rest of the South Division, the Corpus Christi Icerays have been working overtime as 3 of the 4 games on their recent home-stand went to the SO, winning them all. In addition, they starting to bring in some of the biggest crowds in the NAHL so far this season. Averaging nearly 3,000 fans per game so far and brought in an impressive 5,762 fans for their game yesterday afternoon against the New Mexico Mustangs.

Speaking of New Mexico, after a bad start to the season, the Mustangs are in the bottom of the Division with 10 points (4-5-2). Part of that has to do with the lack of a foundation in net where the Mustangs have already played 4 different guys in net so far this season. If it weren't for 3 straight OT Games (1-2 in those games), it would be a huge mountain to climb for the Mustangs this season.

In addition to the Mustangs lack of goaltending, the scoring has been a bit anemic as well, just 5 players have scored more then 3 goals this season, with Jimmy Peplinski leading the team with just 8 points. While Joe Smereck has the team lead in goals with 5.

Here's the current standings in the NAHL South Division.

1. Wichita Falls       7-2-2    16 PTS      41-33

2. Amarillo              7-3-1     15 PTS      45-32

3. Topeka                7-2-1     15 PTS      33-22

4. Texas                   6-2-3     15 PTS      41-37

5. Corpus                 6-4-1     13 PTS       42-43

6. New Mexico        4-5-2     10 PTS       29-47

In addition to the South Division Report, here's a look at what's going around the rest of the league.

North Division: Bandits Have High Expectations Again

Central Division: Wings celebrate first Ever Victory

West Division: Kenai River Showing Promise

By Zach Duncan of the NAHL Website

Tony Curtale said he hasn't made many moves in past seasons. But after the 2-2-3 start, the Texas Tornado Head Coach felt that changes were needed to be made, especially in the goaltending department.

So Curtale was quite busy last week, acquiring three impact players in separate trades in an effort to give his roster a boost.

"I felt we had outplayed every team we had played," Curtale said. "We had an issue with goaltending, but I had felt good with how we had playing. We just weren't getting results."

The initial aftereffects can't be argued with. The Tornado spoiled Topeka's home opening weekend with a sweep, edging the Roadrunners 3-2 in Overtime on Friday and claiming a 2-0 victory the next night.

Curtale's biggest acquisition was goaltender Jimmy Kruger, who was attained from Alexandria in a trade that happened on Friday.

Kruger's debut in a Tornado sweater couldn't have gone better, as he stopped all 20 shots he faced for his first NAHL Shutout that day.

"He had an excellent Minnesota High School Career, and he's pretty big and athletic, Curtale said of Kruger. "We hope he can continue on the line of great goaltenders we've had."

Kruger wasn't the only player picked up by the Tornado last weekend. Forwards Nathan Sliwinski (From Wenatchee) and Josh Royston (Kenai River) and a couple of 1990 born veterans who have combined to rack up 31 goals in the NAHL last season.

Royston scored scored Saturday's first goal almost eight minutes after Jack Prince cemented the outcome with a tally late in the third period.

Ralfs Freibergs and Tyler Rostenkowski are two defensemen Curtale has been pleased with, but the Tornado's biggest breakout player has been forward Rock Einersen.

No one in the NAHL has registered more points then Einersen's 17, and his 10 goals trail Fairbank's J.T. Osbourne by one for the league lead. Einersen scored all three goals in Friday's win, including the game winner with 42 seconds into Overtime.

"He did well for us last year, too. But there's a difference between rookie good and veteran good," Curtale said. "We knew he had a lot of talent. He came in here stronger and he has fantastic skill - Division 1 Skill for sure."

There was one downside to the weekend in Kansas. Captain David Rigatti broke his foot when he blocked a shot and J.D. Howard went down with a shoulder injury.

Both are expected to miss 4-6 weeks, but Curtale doesn't expect his team to miss a week.

"We have good leadership in the locker room," Curtale said. "When one guy goes down, the rest of the team knows it has to step up."

South Division Notebook

Amarillo Bulls: Through their first nine games, the Bulls have not trailed after the first or second periods, the only NAHL Team that can make that claim. Amarillo, which is tied for the division lead with 15 points, has killed off 26 of their last 27 penalties.

Corpus Christi Icerays: More then 3,000 fans came to the American Bank Center to witness the NAHL debut in Corpus Christi. The Icerays responded with a 4-3 victory over the Wichita Falls Wildcats capped off by Beau Walker's clinching goal in the sixth round of the shootout.

New Mexico Mustangs: Kevin O'Connor and Jimmy Peplinski scored first period goals for the Mustangs. New Mexico didn't find the back of the net after that against Amarillo, but it wasn't for a lack of opportunities. The Mustangs final 49 shots in the series were stopped.

Topeka Roadrunners: Michael Hill's Game tying goal forced overtime Friday in Topeka home debut against Texas, but the Roadrunners lost in the extra session 3-2. Topeka also had three first period shots bang off pipes in a 2-0 loss Saturday, which was Texas' first regulation win in Kansas since the team moved to Topeka in 2007, a span of 15 games.

Wichita Falls Wildcats: After scoring three goals in 31 games for the Wildcats last season, Sean Keane matched that total in a 20 minute time span with a hat trick in Saturday's 8-4 victory over Corpus Christi, the South Player of the week, now has a team high seven goals this season.

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