By Josh Kaskinen | Image: NM Ice Wolves
The New Mexico Ice Wolves continue their road trip this weekend, but this time, they’ll be a little bit closer to home.
After a tough series in Shreveport last weekend, which saw New Mexico drop games by scores of 3-1 and 8-2 to the Mudbugs, New Mexico will look to get back on track in Amarillo, Texas at the Budweiser Bull Pen on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The Bulls and the Ice Wolves will become quite familiar with each other throughout the rest of this month, as they will face each other for the next six consecutive games. After this three-game series, the Bulls will head to Outpost Ice Arena in Albuquerque for two games on December 20-21 before ringing in the new year back at the Bull Pen on December 31. There will certainly be plenty of holiday cheer to go around by the time its all said and done!
Friday night’s game will mark the third-ever a time that these two teams will meet. In the previous series, New Mexico took the first game in a shootout, a 1-0 win that stretched the Ice Wolves’ first-ever winning streak to three games. That streak came to an end the following night, when the Bulls shutout the Ice Wolves by a score of 4-0. Despite splitting that series, New Mexico has yet to score a goal in regulation against the Bulls, a stat that will have to change if the Ice Wolves hope to pick up any points through the remainder of December.
In the first series between these two teams, several Amarillo players stood out, starting with Charlie Glockner. The 19 year old netminder from Minnetonka, Minnesota made 49 saves that weekend, stopping every puck he faced other than Griffen Sanom’s shootout winner. The Ice Wolves will have to find a way to score against Glockner in these upcoming games. Forward Devan Tongue (Bentley University) was a player who was able to show some offensive prowess against the Ice Wolves. He scored two power play goals during the Bulls win in Albuquerque. The rookie has five goals and eleven assists on the season, so he could continue to be a scoring threat against the Ice Wolves. Forward Jonathan Young (Merrimack College) was a consistent playmaker against New Mexico, tallying three assists in a single night. The former Maryland Black Bear has seven goals, nine assists and has registered 43 shots in his 20 games since joining Amarillo.
One Bulls defender to keep an eye on is Lauri Sertti (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute) from Espoo, Finland. Sertti has three goals and nine assists with a +10 rating. Even more impressive than his scoring numbers is his effectiveness on the power play. The young Finn has two goals and five assists this season when his team had a man advantage.
With six players committed to play NCAA Division 1, clearly, the Bulls are yet another strong South Division team. New Mexico will need to shake off the lackluster performance of last weekend and adjust to life without their former top goaltender Josh Graziano, who has left junior hockey early to join the Union College Dutchmen. The Ice Wolves have shown in the past that they can contend with high level teams, and being only four points away from catching the Odessa Jackalopes and moving out of last place, these next few games against Amarillo will give New Mexico a real chance to prove themselves.