Chippewa Steel (2-0-0-0, 4pts) vs. Odessa Jackalopes (0-0-0-0, 0pts)
at NSC SR 2 in Blaine, MN
Time: 11:15 a.m. CDT
Broadcast: (Home) HockeyTV
What You Need to Know:
Season Series: 0-0
CHP: 5pts, Benz (1g-4a)
SO IT BEGINS:
Starting tomorrow the Jackalopes will face-off against four non-divisional teams to start their regular season. All four games will be held at the Super Rink in Blaine, MN. The Jacks will be the home team for half of the games. Two teams are from the Midwest Division (Chippewa/Springfield) and the other two are from the East Division (Maryland/Jamestown). The last time the Jackalopes were in Blaine was in 2019-20 when they split their two games. Losing, 2-1, against the Maine Nordiques and then beating the Northeast Generals, 1-0. After the team concludes their fourth game on Sept. 18th they will make their way to Texas to get ready to play the South Division for the remainder of the season.
This year’s Jacks squad will certainly look different than last year as they currently have 19 players on their roster that have not laced up their skates for a NAHL game. The younger squad though has a diverse group of vets to guide them throughout their first season in the “League of Opportunity.” Guys like Evan Orr, Conner Couet, Michael Manzo, and Dayne Hoyord will be the catalyst to get the younger group of guys up to speed. The Jacks may be playing four games in Blaine but when they leave, they will still have 56 left until the season ends. It takes a lot of conditioning to make it through all 60 but with the guidance of the vets along with the coaching staff these fresh faces are undoubtedly in good hands.
AHEAD OF THE PROGRAM:
The Steel have already seen regular season action as they are currently 2-0. Both games were against the Kenai River Brown Bears (5-1, 4-0). They put up 30+ shots each game but only went 1/8 on the man-advantage. Last season the Steel were the only team from the Midwest Division that did not see post-season play. They finished with a record of 14-29-2-3 (33pts). The Steel have not made the playoffs since 2016-17 (Lost Div. Semifinal). Also, they have two rookie netminders to start off this 2021-22 campaign. Levi Gho got the nod for the only two games thus far and has only allowed one goal on 48 shots (.979SV%).
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Jackalopes (F: #19 – Dayne Hoyord)
Hoyord was the highest rated rookie at the conclusion of last year for Odessa. His 19 points (7g-12a) in 52 games put him fourth overall on the team. The Wisconsin native was selected to the 2021 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament to represent the South Division. He recorded one assist in two games. The 5’10”-195lbs. right-handed forward played for the Northern Cyclones (NCDC) in 2019-20 recording 41 points (12g-29a) in 48 games. He finished fourth in points and tied for second in assists. Hoyord will certainly make his presence felt this season as he looks to use his experience to pick up where he left off.
Steel (F: #10 – Ethan Benz)
The Minnesota native is in his final season of the NAHL. Benz entered the league in 2018-19 after playing three games for the Fairbanks Ice Dogs. The following season he played 29 for them recording 10 points (5g). He also played for the Corpus Christi IceRays that year (14gp-2g-3a). Last year though, the 6’1”-185lbs. left-handed forward finally found his groove with the Chippewa Steel as he finished second in scoring (12g-14a). His 12 goals were a team high. His bounce back year earned him a selection to the 2021 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament where he played two games. Benz is already atop the leaderboards for the Steel as he currently has a team high five points and four assists. Both of which have come in just two games.