Richmond Robins @ Scottdale Inferno (AIHL Minor Games of the Week)
Venue: Hot Shots Arena (Mt Pleasant, PA )
Minor Start: 6:30pm / 7:15pm
Elite Start: 8:00pm / 9:00pm
The Richmond Robins minor team has been a force in the AIHL for two seasons now. Last year they were the Colonial Division champions and are hungry for a return trip to the National event. Several members of last year’s team have been elevated to the elite team this year, but Coach Kent has a new crop of youngsters eager to fill the void.
The Scottdale Inferno minor team fell from grace a bit last season. After winning the AIHL National Championship in 08-09 they finished in third place in the Colonial Division before losing to the very same Richmond Robins in the first round of the playoffs. Nate Gerger’s departure to the elite team last year left a huge hole in the minor squad and they will hope that this year’s team can get them back to the promise land.
This matchup is a toss-up. The Inferno will look to get their revenge for last year’s playoff exit at the hands of the Robins. The Robins need to prove that they still have a dominate team and a heated series with their division foe the Inferno is just what the doctor ordered before another huge test the very next day in Pittsburgh.
The Inferno continue to play second fiddle to their cross town rivals the Pittsburgh Bandits. Last year the Inferno lost in the division finals to the Bandits, but perhaps this season the Inferno will have a leg up. The Bandits may have lost a bit of their swagger last year as they were dethroned as Elite League champs. This could either prove useful or lethal to the rest of the Colonial division. The Inferno however are a year older. Several of their 08-09 minor players who joined the elite team last year now have a year’s experience, particularly Nate Gerger who is one of the league’s bright young players. Other standouts for the Inferno are CJ King, Tyler Davis, Shane Davis, & Blake Guzewicz.
The Robins continue to fight for respect as one of the region’s top teams. Last year they took another big leap in the right direction. Every season it appears that the Robins get just a bit better. This year should be no different. Last year’s minor stars have been elevated to the Elite level and should add the needed depth to compete in the Colonial division. The Robins Garret Bailey will have to step up huge to make up for the loss of Kevin Columbo to the Mavs. Standouts for the Robins are RK Kent, Jordan Snead, & Steven Brooks among others.
Both the Inferno and Robins understand the value of this early season series. The Colonial Division might be the most competitive division in the entire elite division this year, which will make every game a must win. The addition of the Harrisburg Lunatics, along with the Potomac Maverick getting an influx of players from the now defunct Maryland Knights will make for a war in the division, to not be the odd team left out of the playoffs. The key to both teams will be the progression of their young players and their performances on opening night could be the difference in this series.