The Oklahoma City Blazers went 2-0-1 last week against three of the other playoff teams in the Northern Conference. That’s the good news. The bad news? The Blazers didn’t gain too many standings points in the Northeast division championship race as both Bossier-Shreveport and Mississippi kept pace. The three teams are locked in easily the most intriguing division race in the Central Hockey League heading into the final three weeks of the regular season. In fact, it’s the only division with any drama at all. Odessa and Colorado have already clinched their respective divisions. Texas holds a 13-point lead on Laredo in the Southeast division. So with the stretch run here, what will be the difference? How will the Northeast division be won? "Schedule,” Blazers coach Doug Sauter said. "We have four games in five nights against teams with losing records. We have to take advantage of that.”
Oklahoma CityRecord: 32-15-7 (71 points, third in division) Games left: 10 — Tulsa (2), Wichita (2), Rapid City (2), Amarillo, New Mexico, Colorado and Odessa Breakdown: The Blazers have the easiest road, on paper, to a division title as only Colorado and Odessa have winning records. Oklahoma City has signed forward Eric Przepiorka, who played in Sweden this season and is a natural scorer. The Blazers still have the top one-two goaltender punch in the league. Doug Groenestege leads the league with a 2.14 goals-against average. Andy Franck is seventh and has won two of his last three starts. The CHL All-Star is playing with confidence again after a rough patch.
Bossier-ShreveportRecord: 35-15-4 (74 points, second in division) Games left: 10 — Mississippi (6), Wichita, Texas, Rio Grande Valley and Corpus Christi Breakdown: The Mudbugs are coming off their most consistent month of hockey. Starting goaltender Ken Carroll has been nicked up, but Jon Horrell hasn’t missed a beat in his place. There are no stars for Bossier-Shreveport, but it is well-balanced with few weaknesses. If the Mudbugs end up as division champs, they’ll earn it with six games left against Mississippi. For as good as Mississippi is, Bossier-Shreveport has a 5-1-0 record so far this season vs. the RiverKings.
MississippiRecord: 37-14-3 (77 points, first in division) Games left: 10 — Bossier-Shreveport (6), Tulsa (3) and Odessa. Breakdown: The hottest team in the league. RiverKings are 12-0-1 in their last 13 games and three points behind Colorado for the overall top spot in the conference. Forward Martin Gascon was the big acquisition at the trade deadline. Gascon, who has played for Arizona and Tulsa this season, has produced with 10 points in 10 games for the Kings. Mississippi has best goal differential in the league (204-138) and might be the most physical team in the league.