Springfield, Illinois – The Springfield Jr. Blues 2018-19 campaign ended in disappointment after being eliminated from the Robertson Cup Playoffs in April. Although the Jr. Blues didn’t win the Cup this year, many accomplishments were earned on both individual and team levels. Here is our 2018-19 season end review.
For the Record:
At the conclusion of the regular season the Jr. Blues held a 33-22-4-1 record for 71 points and claimed 3rd place in the Midwest Division. Only one divisional foe avoided being swept by Springfield (Janesville), while only two teams were able to sweep Springfield (Minnesota and Janesville). Fairbanks, who won the regular season title and the divisional playoffs, ended the season with a losing record against Springfield in 8 games played against each other.
The Jr. Blues longest losing streak (Oct. 20 – Nov. 2) and winning streak (Jan. 12 – 25) of the season each peaked at 5 games. Between September and Christmas, the Jr. Blues put up a 12-14-2-1 record and were sitting outside of playoff position behind Kenai River. From January 4th until April 6th, the Jr. Blues had a phenomenal record of 21-8-2-0 and were within striking distance of 2nd place Minnesota at the end of the season.
Despite making the playoffs in 2017-18 and in 2012-13, the Jr. Blues had been in the midst of a rough playoff winless streak. But that ended at the 4:30 mark of overtime in game two against the Magicians when Nick Techel scored to give the Jr. Blues a 4-3 overtime victory and their first playoff victory in nearly 7 years (previous playoff win – April 21, 2012 vs. St. Louis Bandits, 1-0).
By the Numbers:
Brandon Puricelli had a season to remember for the Jr. Blues. In his 3rd season in Springfield Puricelli scored 30 goals and added 50 assists to finish 4th in the league scoring race. He was named to the Midwest Division Top Prospects Team in February where he recorded 2 assists. Puricelli committed to play college hockey at the University of Minnesota-Duluth in March, a month in which he had 23 points (9 goals, 14 assists) and earned Forward of the Month.
Overall on the season, Puricelli earned one Star of the Week award, 2nd Star of the Week award twice, and was an Honorable Mention for Star of the Week 6 times. Puricelli ended the season with 50 assists, a new single season record for the Jr. Blues. His 80 points this season was just four points shy of the points record set by Ty Hartigan in 1994-95.
While Puricelli brought home quite a few accomplishments by himself, he wasn’t the only one. Ben Schmidling finished the season with 37 goals and 31 assists, good for 3rd best in the league in goals and 8th best in the league in points. Ben was honored by USA Junior Hockey Magazine as the NAHL Player of the Month for March, a month in which he had 12 goals and 8 assists. Schmidling was awarded Star of the Week honors twice, earned 2nd Star honors twice, and was an Honorable Mention three times.
Jack Williams proved to be the workhorse between the pipes that the Jr. Blues needed this season. The Michigan State University commit played in 39 games and finished with a 21-13-2-1 record with a 2.85 GAA and a .897 SV%. In 2,211 minutes played this season he saw 1023 shots and recorded 4 shutouts. When NHL Central Scouting released their final prospect rankings in April, Williams was listed as the #19 ranked North American goaltender.
While many games provided entertainment and action, there were a few games that stood out above the rest.
October 6, 2018: 3-0 W vs. Topeka Pilots
In just the fourth home game of the 2018-19 season the Jr. Blues picked up their first shutout. Caleb Hannon stopped all 34 shots he saw, including a penalty shot in the 2nd period to preserve the clean sheet. Max Brainin scored twice, Ben Schmidling had three assists, and Hannon added an assist of his own. It was the first of five shutouts recorded on the season by the Jr. Blues.
November 10, 2018: 3-2 SOW vs. Fairbanks Ice Dogs
After a rough couple of weeks against the Minnesota Magicians and Janesville Jets, the Jr. Blues were able to secure their first sweep of the season thanks to a shootout victory over the Ice Dogs. Jack Williams stopped 22/24 in regulation and overtime before stopping 3/4 in the shootout. Brandon Puricelli had a goal and an assist while Ben Schmidling scored the game winning goal.
January 5, 2019: 2-1 OTW vs. Minnesota Magicians
The Jr. Blues came out swinging after Christmas by sweeping 1st place Minnesota on home ice en route to a remarkable 21 win second half. Janis Voris picked up his 1st win with the Jr. Blues, stopping 20/21 shots in his first appearance for Springfield. Max Osborne scored the game tying goal in the 3rd period and assisted on Nikita Kozyrev’s game winning goal in overtime.
February 23, 2019: 8-0 W vs. Kenai River Brown Bears
When Kenai River came to town in February the Jr. Blues were rolling, but the Brown Bears won game one of the three game series. The next night the Jr. Blues blanked the Brown Bears 8-0 for the largest victory of the season. Nikita Kozyrev had a hat trick, Brandon Puricelli had three assists, and Jack Williams picked up his 4th shutout by stopping all 23 shots sent his way.
April 13, 2019: 4-3 OTW vs. Minnesota Magicians (1st Round of Playoffs)
The Jr. Blues picked up their first playoff victory in nearly seven years when Nick Techel scored 4:30 into overtime to give the good guys a 4-3 overtime victory. Max Osborne had three assists in the game while Jack Williams stopped 13/16 in his first playoff win. Giovanni Carabelli, Ben Schmidling, and Caden Villegas each had a goal as well.
2018-19 College Commitments:
The end goal for every season is to get as many players committed to NCAA programs as possible. Here is our current list of collegiate commitments:
Spencer DenBeste – Lake Superior State University* (D1)
Evan Fear – Quinnipiac University* (D1)
Will Gavin – Air Force Academy* (D1)
Jack Williams – Michigan State University (D1)
Caden Villegas – Union College (D1)
Brandon Puricelli – University of Minnesota-Duluth (D1)
Cade Groton – Hamilton College (D3)
Ryan Murray – Hamline University (D3)
Sam Sterne – University of Wisconsin-Superior (D3)
Nikita Kozyrev – SUNY Buffalo State (D3)
Nick Techel – University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire (D3)