Huge game on tap for the Hawks tonight

PHERSY:The Rochester Ice Hawks are on the road right now, on their way to St. Cloud for a huge Minnesota Junior Hockey League game against the Granite City Lumberjacks.

This will be the last regular-season meeting between the two top teams in the MnJHL. The Ice Hawks currently hold a four-point lead over the Lumberjacks in the standings; the Ice Hawks have 69 points and are 34-7-0-1, while the Lumberjacks have 65 points and are 32-9-0-1.

The Lumberjacks lead the season series 4-2 (one of those wins came in OT).

I just spoke to coach Fatis, and he said Simon Eriksson will start in net tonight. "Simon's playing well, so he's earned it," Fatis said.

The Ice Hawks will be without Alex Whitney (cleared, but still working to get back to game shape), Nik Tamanko (about a week or two away) and Matt Rucinski (a week away, at least). Fatis said Jordan Yaggy suffered a hip injury in practice this week and also will be out.


"Pretty much everybody who's healthy will be in there," he said.

Fatis said physical play is the key to victory tonight.

"Last time we got physical with them, they wanted to fight us, so some kids stepped up," Fatis said. "We need to take it to them. What I like about this Thursday game is that we can empty the tank, and then we get three days off to rest."

So, how important is this game? Fatis downplayed it a bit.

"It's just another game to us," Fatis said. "The only difference is that every other time we've played them this year we were playing a team that was ahead of us in the standings. Would two points be nice? Yes, but we've given ourselves a little wiggle room now. Our magic number is at 6 1/2, and it would be nice to cut it down to 4 1/2 after tonight."

Fatis said he has been in talks with a player who has recently been cut from the NAHL. The trade deadline has now been pushed back to Feb. 10, so he has a little time to make some last-minute additions. With a thinning roster, I wouldn't be surprised if Fatis added at least one player for the stretch run.

That's all for now ... go hawks!!!

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