Norsemen Fight Back into Playoff Spot But Central Division Standings Will Come Down to the Wire
January 31, 2023 – North American Hockey League (NAHL) – Press release from St Cloud Norsemen
Things are heating up in the NAHL’s Central Division standings as the St Cloud Norsemen have gone on a five-game win streak to improve their record to 18-16-2-2 and are currently one-ranked with 40 points sit in the playoffs. 4th overall. There’s little room for error with Bismarck just a point behind them and North Iowa just four points behind with a game in hand. But on the other side of the standings, Minot and Aberdeen are just two points clear of St Cloud, so with a good weekend the Norsemen could sit as high as second in the Central or as low as sixth in a week.
One area of the Northmen’s game that has been good all season but has caught fire lately is Rambow’s power play. St. Cloud converted 22.5% of the men’s advantage in the season with 31 goals on 138 opportunities, ranking 7th out of 29 NAHL teams. They are even deadlier on the road, converting 19 times in 65 chances and their 29.2% rate is the fourth best among teams on the road. They also have at least one power play goal in ten straight games.
Brock Kautz, assistant coach of the St. Cloud Northmen, talks about the Northmen’s success with the man advantage. “I think they’re starting to come together. They go out and have a plan of what they’re going to do and where they’re going to be,” says Kautz. “When you have five guys having a decent time together, you understand and you can anticipate some games before they happen. You’re rewarded for putting the puck in the net and it’s a great dynamic in games and it helps when your special teams can be sharp and score.”
Another area of improvement for the Norsemen was the use of home ice. St. Cloud struggled early on in her own building, going 2-8-0 in her first ten games at the MAC. However, the team has recently turned it around, winning five of their six home games since December 9, all by the book.
The Austin Bruins have built a cushion in the Central as they have a 13-point lead over everyone else in the division, but things get a lot murkier from there. Only six points separate second place from last place in the division. Also take into account that the bottom placed team North Iowa has a game in hand against everyone. So if they win in that additional competition, they’re really only four points behind, which is the number a team would have in a standard two-game weekend.
It’s what makes the schedule and the games that get on the track so important. With 38 of 60 regular season games, St. Cloud will be at the two-thirds mark of the season after this weekend’s home series against Bismarck. They have plenty of hockey left, including 12 regular-season home games at MAC. Tickets for all remaining games, including against the Bobcats this Friday and Saturday, are available online at tickets.stcloudnorsemen.com.
The Northmen have been happily sending MAC viewers home lately as they have gone 5-1-0 in their last six home games.
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