Seven Northern States Junior Hockey league teams will hit the ice this weekend, and while one team will look to keep their win streak going, the pressure is on another to get their first win of the season.
The Maine Wild will hold their first-ever home game on Saturday, hosting the AHI Fighting Spirit. The Wild will be looking for their first win of the season, and Head Coach Mike Tenney thinks playing on home ice will give the team the boost it needs.
“This week in practice we have really been focusing on playing small area games to improve skills in a game like situation,” he said. “I felt as though there are things (that while we have been practicing them in drills) it has been tough to simulate game situations.”
On Tuesday, the team did an hour and a half of small area games to create the situations they needed to work on, Tenney said.
“(Today) and Friday will see us focus in on special teams. I would like to see us keep our PIM’s down to 10 or under per game this weekend, but if we go above it, our penalty kill has to be ready,” he said. “I think the first home games in the organization’s history will be a big adrenaline rush for the guys. I just hope we keep the emotions in check, keep the game simple and give the home crowd a couple of good games to watch between two good hockey teams.”
The Wilkes-Barre Miners are hoping to get three more W’s as they travel to the Syracuse Stampede Friday before coming home to host the New England Stars in a two-game series Saturday and Sunday.
Miners Head Coach Jason MacDonald is excited to bring his team on the road for the first time this season.
“We’re coming off a great weekend where we really took a step in the right direction with our discipline as well as the way our team wants to play,” said MacDonald of the Miners’ sweep against the Maine Moose. “Despite a couple of suspensions and an injured player, we are hoping to keep the momentum up.”
The Stampede split their games last weekend against the Jersey Shore Wildcats after two very close match-ups. However, their 4-3 overtime win will give them confidence against the Miners, said Stampede Head Coach Mike Beavis.
“We are expected a high-tempo, high-energy game from both teams,” he said. “They had a strong weekend last weekend and we know they will be coming in here on a high note, looking for two more points. We need to make sure our energy level is up.”
Stampede Associate Coach James Muscatello said he has high expectations for the team on Friday.
“We need to take better care of the puck and keep our feet moving,” he said. “We need to use our team speed and drive the net. We have worked a lot in practice this week on these two areas and I expect we will show improvement during our game. It will be nice to be on home ice and I expect a solid game from both teams.”
New England Stars Head Coach Darryl Green knows travelling to face the Miners in their barn will be a challenge this weekend.
“Wilkes-Barre swept in last weekend’s games, which were both at home, so I’m sure they will be ready for another two home games this weekend,” he said. “I know that this is our first road trip of the season and our first two-game weekend of the season, so I am interested and excited to see how we handle things.”
This weekend’s games:
Friday, Sept. 27
Wilkes-Barre @ Syracuse Stampede, 2 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 28
Jersey Shore Wildcats @ Cape Cod Islanders, 5:20 p.m.
New England Stars @ Wilkes-Barre Miners, 7:30 p.m.
AHI Fighting Spirit @ Maine Wild, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 29
New England Stars @ Wilkes-Barre Miners, 10:45 a.m.
AHI Fighting Spirit @ Maine Wild, 11 a.m.
Jersey Shore Wildcats @ Cape Cod Islanders, 11 a.m.