The good news for the Fresno Monsters was a 3-2 regulation win in Ontario Friday that gave them a share of first place in the Western Division along with the Long Beach Bombers. The bad news was a 5-3 loss to the Avalanche on Sunday when they had a chance to take sole possession of the top spot.
Both the Monsters and Bombers play three times this week so there will be some scoreboard watching. The Monsters head to Medford, Oregon for a three-game inter-division series against the Northwest Division’s Southern Oregon Spartans. Fresno will be facing a team playing in front of their fans for the only time from October 21 to January 11, so they will no doubt be motivated to make an impression on the home crowd and fired up to host the Western Division co-leaders.
Fresno rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the second period to pick up that big road win, 3-2, over the Avalanche in Ontario Friday night. Fresno goalie Max Karlenzig (28 saves) stopped all 18 shots he faced over the final two periods to backstop the comeback.
The match-ups for the Western States Shootout are based on the standings and, as a result of their recent surge, the Monsters will play Ogden, Oklahoma City and Seattle at the showcase – a challenging slate to say the least.
SOUTHERN OREGON SPARTANS (6-13-0-1, 19 PTS.)
There were some encouraging signs, but the Southern Oregon Spartans ultimately failed to earn a point last weekend in a three-game series against Bellingham.
Other than a few poor stretches, the Spartans managed to keep the Blazers high-powered offense in check through the first two games of the matchup, but Bellingham broke through for nine goals in the series finale.
Southern Oregon now sits in a third-place tie with West Sound, which has made strides in the last few weeks. Things won’t get much easier this weekend as the Spartans host the Fresno Monsters for a three-game tilt.
The Monsters are in second place in the Western Division, just three points behind the Long Beach Bombers. They own a plus-28 goal differential and feature plenty of talent, but Fresno has a mediocre 5-4-0-0 record away from home.
Winning this weekend’s series would give the Spartans some extra momentum as they head into their slate of games at the Western States Shootout in a couple of weeks.
Southern Oregon is set to take on the Steamboat Wranglers, Casper Bobcats, and Valencia Flyers at the Las Vegas event. None of those teams have a winning record and Southern Oregon will have a decent chance at beating all three.