NAHL South Playoffs To Get Underway – Lone Star Brahmas Await Their Opponent


The NAHL post season gets underway Thursday April 2 with 6th seeded Rio Grande in Wichita Falls to face the 3rd seed Wildcats in the first of two South Division play in series. The other play in series will feature 5th seed Wenatchee at 4th seed Corpus Christi with both series being a best of three format.

Two teams earned first round byes by totally different routes. The NAHL South Division Champion Lone Star Brahmas finished strong taking points in nine of their last 10 games with a 8 – 1 – 1 record to wrap up the crown. Second seed Topeka on the other hand stumbled into the final bye with a 4 – 4 – 2 record over their last 10 games. Only a shootout win against Wenatchee in their final game allowed them to hold off Wichita Falls. Both teams will be keeping an eye on the play in series to see who their first round opponent will be.

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Only two things are certain at this point, Lone Star will not face Wichita Falls in round one and Topeka will not face Rio Grande regardless of what happens in the play in series. As the top seed, Lone Star will host the lowest seed to advance out of the play in series while the highest ranked team to advance will travel to Topeka. Both first round matchups will be best of five series.

Wichita Falls had an opportunity to grab one of the two byes in their season ending series against the Brahmas but came up short both nights to fall to third, a single point behind Topeka. As a result they will host the first two games of the series against the Killer Bees with game three if necessary played in Hidalgo. The Wildcats ran up a 5 – 1 – 2 record against Rio Grande during the regular season, but the Killer Bees took the last two games with one decided in overtime and the other in a shootout. Wichita Falls outscored Rio Grande 22 – 14 and was 9 – 31 on the power play. The Killer Bees struggled on the power play against the Wildcats going just 3 – 32.

Wichita Falls is dangerous when they have the puck finishing the season with the top ranked offense and power play in the NAHL averaging 4.03 goals per game and a power play efficiency of 25.0%. However on the defensive side of the game they do not fare nearly as well. The Wildcats defense ranks 11th in the league allowing 3.03 goals per game while the penalty kill is 22nd at just 78.7%. Rio Grande on the other hand averaged nearly 1.5 fewer goals scored per game at 2.55 to finish at 19th. Their power play was middle of the pack at 12th or 15.4%. The Killer Bees allowed 3.07 goals against per game which has them at 15th in the league and their penalty kill finished one spot ahead of Wichita Falls at 79.6%.

The Wildcats slipped a bit down the stretch ending the season 4 – 3 – 3 over their final 10. Eight of those games were against playoff teams with Wichita Falls banking eight points. Rio Grande performed only slightly better at 4 – 4 – 2. The Killer Bees pulled seven points out of their six games against playoff teams. Games one and two will be April 2nd and 3rd at the Kay Yeager Coliseum with both games facing off at 7:05. Game three would be April 6th at the State Farm Arena with a 7:30 game time.

The Corpus Christi – Wenatchee series will be a wild one, no pun intended. The Icerays and Wild faced each other only five times during the regular season with Corpus Christi taking four of the five. Three of the five were one goal games and only one had a margin of victory of more than two. All five games were completed before the end of January and the Wild have played at a .595 clip since then. The Icerays outscored the Wild by a mere two goals over the five regular season games 12 – 10. Neither of the teams was especially proficient with the man advantage as Corpus Christi was 3 – 22 while Wenatchee was 2 – 29.

The Icerays were fairly well balanced on both sides of the ice. The offense closed out the regular season holding down the 8th spot in the league averaging 3.10 goals per game while the defense though ranking 19th allowed 3.27 goals per game. With the man advantage Corpus Christi was 8th best at 19.4% and the penalty kill unit was 13th finishing at 82.0%. Wenatchee comes in having averaged 2.95 goals per game while allowing 2.85 which was good for 12th and 10th respectively. The Wild’s power play was 14th in the NAHL at 15.1% and the penalty kill was 11th at 83.4%. The big difference will be Wenatchee’s discipline. They were the only team in the entire league to finish with fewer than 200 penalty kills with just 193 times shorthanded. Compare that to the Icerays 272 times going a man down and you can see that Corpus Christi will have to be especially sharp with the special teams.

Over the last 10 games, Corpus Christi was only 4 – 6 – 0 with five games coming against playoff bound teams. The Icerays garnered four points in those five contests. Wenatchee on the other hand played seven of their final ten games against playoff teams and earned seven points. Overall the Wild were 4 – 5 – 1. With the travel distance and costs, the entire series will be played at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi. The series will get underway on April 3rd with game two one night later. If game three is needed it will be played on April 6th. All games will start at 7:05 pm.