60 games over eight months is a long season. It is a grind. It is a marathon, not a sprint. The Blizzard are less than a third of the way into the year so one would think three games in the month of November wouldn’t mean that much. There are still 40 games to be played and a lot could change over the next four months.
But when the top two teams in the division play each other three times in the next six days, three games in November could have huge implications on the next four or five months.
The Blizzard will travel across I-90 for a weekend double header against the Austin Bruins starting tonight at Riverside Arena. The Bruins will then come to Brookings on Wednesday, November 21st for a Thanksgiving Eve showdown at the Larson Ice Center.
The Bruins currently sit atop the Central Division with 28 points followed closely by the Blizzard with 26 points. Austin has played one more game than the Blizzard at this point in the season, 18 and 17 respectively, which means the teams could be tied once the Blizzard play an additional game. Each team has 13 wins on the year. Austin currently holds the edge in the standings because two of their loses came in shootouts against Bismarck and Minot earlier in the year, gaining them a point in each contests.
A lot could happen in the next three games that could set the stage for the rest of the season. With three wins Austin could distance them from the rest of the pack forcing the rest of the division to play catch up the rest of the way. Three wins for the Brookings and the Blizzard would have the upper hand as we approach the halfway point in the season. And then there are all of the scenarios that could happen in between. Check back on Thanksgiving to see how it all shakes out.
Tonight’s matchup is only the second meeting of the year for these two teams. Austin got the best of the Blizzard in the first meeting back in October, winning 3-2 in a physical matchup at the Larson Ice Center. The Bruins are a big, physical team but have lost two of their last three games. The Blizzard are on a three game winning streak averaging four goals a game in those victories.
Both games this weekend start at 7:05pm and can be seen live on Fasthockey.com. Mark Thompson will have the call for the Blizzard.