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Jr. Blues Split with Steel, Clinch Playoff Berth

Springfield, Illinois – The Springfield Jr. Blues split their weekend series with the Chippewa Steel and in the process clinched a berth in the 2018-19 Robertson Cup Playoffs. The Jr. Blues have now made the playoffs in back-to-back seasons and this berth marks the 15th time the Jr. Blues have made the postseason dance.

The Jr. Blues started the weekend off in the right direction by scoring five power play goals en route to a 7-4 victory over the Steel. Ben Schmidling notched his first hat trick of the season, Nikita Kozyrev scored twice, and Brandon Puricelli had four points to lead the Jr. Blues to their 29th win of the season. Jack Williams stopped 12 of 16 shots to earn his 19th win of the season.

Saturday would not fall the same way, however, as Chippewa scored the first four goals of the game and never looked back in a 6-2 upset. Ben Schmidling had a goal and an assist and Brandon Puricelli scored as well as Janis Voris picked up the loss. The loss snapped a four game winning streak for Springfield as they remain in 3rd place in the Midwest Division.

The Jr. Blues and the Steel will face off again this weekend in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin for games five and six of an eight game stretch between the two clubs. Both games can be watched live on HockeyTV.

Jr. Blues Notes:

  • Ben Schmidling had 6 points over the weekend (4 goals, 2 assists) and now sits in 12th in the league in scoring with 55 points. His second goal on Friday gave him 100 career points in the NAHL, the second Jr. Blues player to eclipse the century mark this season.
  • Brandon Puricelli is on a hot streak as of late. In his last 8 games Puricelli has 20 points (6 goals, 14 assists) which has helped propel him to 5th in the league in scoring with 68 points.
  • Max Brainin has 51 points on the season (17 goals, 34 assists) and is 5 points shy of reaching 100 NAHL points in his career.
  • Springfield sits in 3rd place with 62 points, just four points behind 2nd place Minnesota and 10 points behind 1st place Fairbanks.

Puricelli, Schmidling(s) Lead Jr. Blues to Sweep of Steel

Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin – The Springfield Jr. Blues marched into the Chippewa Area Youth Arena over the weekend for the first time in franchise history and swept the Chippewa Steel. After earning four out of four points, the Jr. Blues now sit in sole possession of 3rd place in the Midwest Division with a 28-20-3-1 record for 60 points.

Friday started out in the right direction for Springfield before Chippewa turned the contest into a nail biter. Ben Schmidling and Max Brainin would each score in the 1st period to give the Jr. Blues a 2-1 lead heading into the intermission. The 2nd period would begin well as Nikita Kozyrev pushed the lead to 3-1 on a feed from Brandon Puricelli and Nick Techel. But the Steel would score twice in the final two minutes of the period and the game was tied 3-3 at the break.

Jack Williams would shut the door the rest of the way as he stopped all 11 shots in the 3rd period despite plenty of opportunities for the Steel. Kozyrev would break the deadlock at the 17:50 mark of the 3rd period and give the Jr. Blues a much needed win, 4-3. It was the 8th time this season that the Steel lost a game in the final 10 minutes of regulation.

Heading into Saturday’s contest the Jr. Blues needed both points to keep pace with the Janesville Jets. Brandon Puricelli and the Schmidling twins (Ben and David) would ensure that the Jr. Blues would not come away empty handed.

Puricelli opened the scoring on Saturday just under 10 minutes in, but the Steel would score the next two goals in the game to lead 2-1 late in the opening period. That’s when captain Cade Groton would score his 3rd goal of the season to tie the game 2-2 heading into the break. The fire was sparked and the Jr. Blues would take control of the game from that point on.

Lukas Kucera would break the tie just 2:31 into the 2nd period, his 3rd goal of the season. Ben Schmidling would score six minutes later to make it 4-2, and Max Osborne would extend the lead again just three minutes later. After 40 minutes of action the Jr. Blues were on top 5-2.

Two goals by the Steel in the 3rd period were accompanied by a power play strike from Max Brainin and the final score was 6-4. Janis Voris made 25 of 29 saves to earn his 7th victory. Puricelli had four points on the weekend including a Gordie Howe hat trick on Saturday (goal, assist, fight). B. Schmidling had four points as well (2 goals, 2 assists), and D. Schmidling had three points (3 assists). Nikita Kozyrev ended the weekend with three points (2 goals, 1 assist) and Max Brainin now has 47 points on the season after picking up two points (2 goals).

Jr. Blues Notes:

  • Brandon Puricelli has 25 goals and 38 assists for 63 points this season. It’s the highest season point total since Kyle Cook had 70 points in 2011-12.
  • Ben Schmidling is continuing to stay hot as he has 5 goals and 4 assists in his last 7 games. Schmidling is in his 3rd NAHL season (Janesville, Johnstown) and has 98 career points (46 goals, 52 assists).
  • Noah Marino made his Springfield and NAHL debut over the weekend. He picked up his first junior point with his assist on Ben Schmidling’s 2nd period goal on Saturday.
  • Streaking: Techel is currently on an 8 game point streak (2 goals, 8 assists); Puricelli has points in 6 straight games (4 goals, 11 assists); Kozyrev is on a 6 game point streak (8 goals, 4 assists); and D. Schmidling is on a 3 game point streak (4 assists).
  • It was the 4th weekend sweep this season for the Jr. Blues. All four sweeps have been within the division (Minnesota, Fairbanks, Kenai River, and Chippewa). The Jr. Blues have been swept twice (Minnesota and Janesville).
  • With the Fairbanks sweep of Minnesota, the Ice Dogs are now in 1st place with 66 points. The Magicians have 64 points, the Jr. Blues have 60, and the Jets have 59.

Puricelli Leads Jr. Blues to Split with Ice Dogs

Springfield, Illinois – The Springfield Jr. Blues had a whirlwind weekend against the Fairbanks Ice Dogs, losing Friday night before bouncing back to win on Saturday. The weekend results drop the Jr. Blues to 4th place in the Division as we currently have a 26-20-3-1 for 56 points.

While the Jr. Blues were flying high from their previous series against the Brown Bears, the Ice Dogs came into town and won convincingly 7-2 on Friday evening. Fairbanks scored first and often as Springfield would be unable to keep pace with them throughout the evening. Brandon Puricelli and Reed Stark each scored for the Jr. Blues while Jack Williams took his 12th loss of the season.

In front of a packed house on Saturday the Jr. Blues looked to make up for a disappointing series opener. Puricelli tallied three points (1 goal, 2 assists) while Kozyrev had two goals himself to lead the Jr. Blues to a 4-1 victory. A complete turn around from the night before, the Jr. Blues scored first and led all night long as the Ice Dogs were unable to complete the sweep or garner any traction against the Jr. Blues. Williams picked up his 17th win of the season as he stopped 38 of 39 shots in the contest.

With 56 points Springfield is one point behind Janesville for 3rd place in the NAHL Midwest Division. The next eight games for Springfield will be against Chippewa, four at home and four away, and could have major implications on the standings.

Top Prospects Tournament Recap

Attleboro, Massachusetts – The Springfield Jr. Blues sent four players to the 2019 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament, three on the Midwest Division roster and one on the Selects Red roster. Each team played two games starting Monday afternoon and finishing up last night.

Jack Williams was one of two Midwest Division goaltenders on the Selects Red roster alongside Cole Brady. Williams played the first half of Monday’s contest surrendering three goals on 23 shots. He then came in for the second half of yesterday’s morning matchup where he once again stopped 20 of 23 shots. Williams, who is committed to Michigan State University, currently has a 15-11-0-1-1 record on the season for the Jr. Blues with a 2.75 GAA and a .901 save percentage.

Max Brainin, Brandon Puricelli, and Janis Voris represented the Jr. Blues on the Midwest Roster. Brainin had a goal in Monday’s contest, while Puricelli added two assists. Voris stopped 16 of 18 in Monday’s matchup before stopping all 15 shots that he faced yesterday afternoon. Brainin and Puricelli did not make the scoresheet for yesterday’s game, but they’ve made it plenty of times throughout the season. Puricelli leads the Jr. Blues with 21 goals and 27 assists (48 points) and is just outside of the top ten for scoring in the league. Brainin has 13 goals and 26 assists (39) and is 3rd on the Jr. Blues in points. Voris currently sports a 5-2-0-0 record with a 2.61 GAA and a .907 save percentage.

We’d like to congratulate these four young men for their hard work and their commitment to bettering themselves and the Jr. Blues organization. The Top Prospects Tournament is a unique opportunity that not every player gets to experience and they took advantage of the opportunity in front of them. Congratulations Max, Brandon, Janis, and Jack!

Four Jr. Blues Players Will Participate in Top Prospects

Attleboro, Massachusetts – The NAHL’s Top Prospect Tournament kicks off this afternoon in Attleboro, MA at 1:00 pm EST. The Springfield Jr. Blues have four players at the tournament this year: Max Brainin, Brandon Puricelli, and Janis Voris are on the Midwest Roster, while Jack Williams is on the Selects Red roster.

Williams and the Selects Red play this afternoon in the tournament’s first game at 1:00 pm EST against the South Division roster. His second game will be tomorrow at 10:00 am EST against the Central Division roster.

Brainin, Puricelli, and Voris will start their portion of the tournament this evening at 7:00 pm EST against the Selects Blue roster. Their second tilt will be tomorrow at 4:00 pm EST against the South Division.

You can catch all of the action live on HockeyTV, and make sure to follow our Twitter page for live in game updates. The boys will be back for action this weekend against the Kenai River Brown Bears at the Nelson Center.

Jr. Blues Split Series with Jets

Janesville, Wisconsin – The Springfield Jr. Blues fell to the Janesville Jets 4-2 on Saturday night, slipping back down to 4th place in the Midwest Division. Nikita Kozyrev and Giovanni Carabelli each had a goal in the contest, the fourth consecutive weekend split for the team.

Janesville jumped out in front in the 1st period before a late tally by Kozyrev tied the game 1-1 heading into the 1st intermission. Carabelli scored just past the halfway point of the 2nd period to tie the game 2-2, but the Jets would quickly score two goals late in the period to lead 4-2 at the break.

Despite opportunities, the Jr. Blues were unable to make the comeback in the 3rd period. Jack Williams stopped 26 of 30 shots in the loss, while Cole Brady made 27 of 29 shots in the win. Nick Techel and Brandon Aird assisted on the Jr. Blues first goal, while Aaron Swanson and Sam Sterne assisted on the second goal.

In the Division:

In what was once an insurmountable lead has now dwindled to just two points for the Minnesota Magicians, as the Fairbanks Ice Dogs are within striking distance after a weekend sweep of the Magicians. The Jr. Blues, for their part, are now within 8 points of the division leaders, a huge step forward after sitting in 5th place and nearly 20 points back at the beginning of January. Although there are no more games left with Minnesota, Springfield plays Kenai River and Fairbanks at home the next two weekends before playing eight straight against the Chippewa Steel.

Kucera, Williams Lead Jr. Blues Past Jets, 3-0

Janesville, Wisconsin – The Springfield Jr. Blues defeated the Janesville Jets 3-0 on Friday night to move into a tie for 3rd place in the Midwest Division with the Jets. Lukas Kucera had a goal and an assist, while Jack Williams turned aside all 19 shots that he faced to pick up his 15th win of the season.

Kucera, who joined the team last week, scored the opening goal late in the 1st period to give the Jr. Blues a 1-0 lead heading into the 1st intermission assisted by David Schmidling and Caden Villegas. Max Osborne would extend the lead to 2-0 on a power play strike late in the 2nd period on a redirection from Brandon Puricelli. Max Brainin added an assist on the goal as well. Caden Villegas added an insurance goal early in the 3rd period to make it 3-0 assisted by D. Schmidling and Kucera.

That would be more than enough offense as Williams earned his 3rd shutout of the season and his second consecutive start with a shutout. Williams now sits with a 15-10-0-1-1 record with a 2.70 GAA and a .902 save percentage on the campaign.

Jr. Blues Notes:

  • Lukas Kucera, who had been incorrectly listed as Darren Johnson on the score sheet, now has a point in each game with the Jr. Blues
  • Caden Villegas had a goal and an assist to push his season point total to 12.
  • Max Osborne’s goal was his 6th of the season and his first point since 1/25, also against the Jets.
  • David Schmidling played his first game since 11/24 (against the Jets) and recorded two assists in the game. He now has 1 goal and 10 assists in 16 games played this season.
  • Max Brainin had an assist on Osborne’s goal, he now has 26 on the season and is one point from tying his career high in points (40).
  • Brandon Puricelli notched his 100th point as a member of the Jr. Blues with his 27th assist of the season. He now has 48 points this season.

Mass, Williams Earn Honorable Mentions for SOTW

Springfield, Illinois – The Springfield Jr. Blues, proud members of the North American Hockey League (NAHL), are pleased to announce that Philipp Mass and Jack Williams were each named an Honorable Mention for Bauer Hockey’s Midwest Division Star of the Week.

Philipp Mass, 18, joined the Jr. Blues last week just in time to take on the Minnesota Magicians. In two games played over the weekend he recorded two assists for the Jr. Blues and was a +2 overall. Mass is from Heidelberg, Germany and comes to Springfield by way of the Central Illinois Flying Aces (USHL) where he appeared in 10 games.

Jack Williams, 17, picked up his 14th win of the season and his 2nd shutout in a 1-0 victory over the Magicians on Friday night. Williams stopped all 37 shots that he faced, and has now won four of his last five starts.

Jets Stop Jr. Blues 4-3 in Overtime

Janesville, Wisconsin – Despite technical issues with the broadcast, the matchup between the Springfield Jr. Blues and the Janesville Jets on Saturday night proved to be a game worth watching. Ben Schmidling and Brandon Puricelli each had three points in the contest, and Jack Williams stopped 24 of 28 shots in the Jr. Blues 4-3 overtime loss to the Jets. It’s only the third loss for Springfield since Christmas.

The Jets would open up a 2-0 lead in the 1st period to lead at the intermission, but the Jr. Blues would battle back to make the game interesting. Ben Schmidling and Brandon Puricelli each scored on the power play in the 2nd period to even the game up heading into the 3rd period.

Schmidling would continue his torrid stretch with his 20th goal of the season just :30 into the 3rd period. With a 3-2 lead, things looked to be trending in the Jr. Blues favor. Four Springfield penalties in just over nine minutes not only helped the Jets tie the game 3-3, but also to limit the opportunity for the Jr. Blues to mount any offense in the 3rd period. In overtime, the Jets would score with :44 left to complete the comeback and win 4-3.

Max Brainin, Aaron Swanson, and Nick Techel each had one assist in the game. Puricelli assisted on both of Schmidling’s goals, while Schmidling assisted on Puricelli’s.

With the overtime loss the Jr. Blues sit comfortably in 4th place with a 20-16-3-1 record for 44 points, just two points behind the Jets and five points behind the Fairbanks Ice Dogs. A three game series against the Minnesota Magicians this weekend could have major implications on the playoff picture for the Jr. Blues as a sweep could catapult them into second place.

Schmidling Scores Two, Jr. Blues Win 4-2

Springfield, Illinois – The Springfield Jr. Blues defeated the Janesville Jets 4-2 on Friday evening to extend their winning streak to five games. Ben Schmidling notched a two goal performance to lead the Jr. Blues, and Nikita Kozyrev continued his hot play with a goal and an assist. Jack Williams earned his 12th win of the season stopping 15 of 17 shots. 

The Jets opened the scoring up on the power play in the 1st period to lead 1-0. Schmidling would tie the game up with less than a minute to play in the 1st period on his 15th of the season, and then would score his 16th goal in the 2nd period to give the Jr. Blues a 2-1 lead. Nick Techel scored his 10th of the season and his 3rd game winning goal in the 3rd period to increase the lead to 3-1. Kozyrev continued to stay red hot with his 7th goal of the season, and his 7th point in his last 4 games, to extend the lead to 4-1. A late Jets goal would cut the deficit to 4-2, but that would be all the offense Williams would allow.

Max Osborne picked up two assists in the game and now has 10 assists on the season. Brandon Puricelli’s 20th assist of the season on Schmidling’s first goal extends his point streak to five games. Aaron Swanson also had an assist on Schmidling’s first goal to extend his point streak to 8 games.