Fifty-eight games down and just two to go.
This Friday and Saturday marks the final weekend of regular season hockey in the 2021-22 North American Hockey League (NAHL) season before playoffs start right away the following weekend.
And after a quick look at the standings, there are five open playoff positions up for grabs across the league, all of which will be decided this weekend.
The Wings host the Austin Bruins both Friday and Saturday inside the Odde Ice Center in Aberdeen. The two teams are currently tied with 65 league points each, and the weekend’s games will decide who will take home-ice advantage when they see each other again the following weekend for first-round playoff action.
With even league points, the league’s tie-breaker goes to head-to-head contests between the teams. In ten games so far this season, the Bruins have a 7-3-0-0 record over the Wings, with two of those wins happening in overtime. Essentially, that means the Wings cannot take a regulation-time loss — they will need to win both games, or win one and push the other to overtime or a shootout to get the points needed to secure home ice.
Regardless of the outcome, the two teams know they’ll face each other for the opening round of playoffs, and the first matchup will be the fifth consecutive match between the two and the seventh of each team’s previous nine games.
Wings fans can help their team claim home-ice advantage by coming out to cheer them on Friday and Saturday at the Odde. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. both Friday and Saturday with the puck hitting the ice at 7:15 p.m. Friday’s game features Princess Night, with free tiaras to the first 100 girls through the door. Saturday’s regular season finale is sponsored by Schwan Home Food Delivery in our AutoMaxx Party Deck. Fans are also welcome to join the team for a post-game party at Buffalo Wings & Rings following the game.
Fans can purchase tickets ahead of the games online at tickets.AberdeenWings.com, or at the door. $10 general admission tickets can also be purchased at any C-Express location in Aberdeen, with additional purchase.
The St. Cloud Norsemen have clinched the Central Division and currently sit at 81 points. They face the North Iowa Bulls in a home-and-home bout this weekend, but the Bulls are mathematically out of playoff contention.
With three Central Division spots claimed and just one up for grabs, it’ll come down to the weekend games between the Minot Minotauros and the Bismarck Bobcats, who will face each other in a home-and-home bout to determine their seasons’ fates. Minot currently sits in fourth place with 59 points, but the Bobcats are right behind them with 58. Minot needs to win just one game to claim their spot; Bismarck, on a three-game win streak, needs both wins to continue their season.
The South Division is all locked up — the Lone Star Brahmas, New Mexico Ice Wolves, Wichita Falls Warriors and Shreveport Mudbugs have all claimed a playoff spot. The Midwest Division has two playoff spots filled — one by the Fairbanks Ice Dogs and the other by the Springfield Jr. Blues — with three teams still vying for the two open slots.
Two teams have also claimed a spot in the East Division — the New Jersey Titans and the Jamestown Rebels. The Johnstown Tomahawks, Maryland Black Bears and the Northeast Generals all have a chance at the two vacant spots.