Northern States Junior Hockey League’s
top two teams will face-off against the third and fourth place teams this weekend, as the teams in the middle of the standings will grapple with each other to make their way to the top.
The Syracuse Stampede will travel to Waterville Valley on Friday for a 7 p.m. tilt against the AHI Fighting Spirit. It is the Spirit’s only game of the weekend.
On Saturday, the Stampede will travel to Hallowell, Maine, for two games against the Maine Moose at the Ice Vault. The puck drops at 7 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday.
“The Maine Moose are gearing up to face the lowest goals against average team in the league (with 14),” said Moose owner and general manager Ben Gray said. “This will be the first meeting of both teams. We need to be prepared and capitalize on our opportunities when we can, because the Stampede doesn’t give up too many goals. We really have to bear down on our chances.”
The New England Stars have a home-and-home series with the Maine Wild, in Tyngsboro on Saturday at 2 p.m. and Biddeford on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. The Stars are currently chasing Wild in the NSHL standings, as the Stars have 8 points and the Wild have 9.
Maine Wild Head Coach Mike Tenney said he is cautiously optimistic heading into the series.
“If we play the way we played last weekend, I’ll be really excited because I think we have a better than average chance of winning,” he said. “But if we revert back to (how we started the season), we have no chance.”
Tenney said he is happy with the way the team has looked in practices and thinks they are understand the vision of “Maine Wild Hockey.”
“Maine Wild Hockey means we forecheck and hunt the puck relentlessly in offensive zone, and defensively, we get down and block shots and make it tough for the opponent to get shots on goal. We want to be quick in transitions and keep the other team on their heels.”
The key to winning this weekend’s games, Tenney said, will be doing “little things” correctly.
“We can now break down individual things, like which way to angle their sticks, which way to curl, all the little things that make a big difference when you watch the tape. That is the fun part of the job, that’s when everyone get a lot better because they understand those little things that have to happen,” he said.
Stars Head Coach Darryl Green knows the Wild is looking to collect points this weekend.
“We are preparing for a dangerous Maine Wild team that we are chasing in the standings,” he said. “They are hard-working and have won three out of their last four games, including knocking off the first place team during that stretch. We must match their work ethic and play two full sixty-minute games in order to be successful.”
The Wilkes-Barre Miners will travel to Cape Cod for two games against the Islanders at Tony Kent Arena in South Dennis. Game times are 5:20 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday.
Both teams are expecting a tough battle ahead this weekend.
“We are playing the hottest team in the league right now,” said Dan Hodge of the Cape Cod Islanders. “We have to be ready to compete all over the ice and play with discipline this weekend or we will ourselves in for a long two games.”
Miners Head Coach Jason MacDonald said the weekend will be a tough test for his team.
“The Cape Cod games have been intense so we expect a lot of the same,” he said. “Our special teams have been good as of late so we hope to build off that…not to mention solid and timely goaltending.”
Connect with Northern States Junior Hockey League and its teams on social media:
@NSJHL on Twitter, Facebook
@CapeCodIslander on Twitter, Facebook
@WBMiners on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook
@NEStarsHockey on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook
@SYR_Stampede on Twitter, Facebook
@MaineWildHockey on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook