Tag Archives: jr hockey

2018 Main Camp In The Books

Over 120 players from around the world came to Springfield over the weekend, looking to score a spot on the Springfield Jr. Blues team. Many of the players from the 2017-18 team were also in attendance.

There were six teams of players who skated for three days (2-4 games per player) in front of the team coaches and scouts, and in the end, only 30 players were selected.

Main Camp was invitation-only event, while Draft Camp, which took place in May, is open to anyone 16-20 years of age.

While coaches have selected their roster and players have been notified, the official list will not be released to the public until later in the summer.

2018 Main Camp Preview

The Springfield Jr. Blues will host its annual Main Camp this weekend, July 13-15. Main Camp is open to the public and free to view!

Springfield has invited over 120 players to try out at camp and will have games running all weekend.

Games begin on Friday at noon, run all day Saturday, with a final All-Star game on Sunday at 3:00 pm.

From this weekend, Springfield will pick a 30-man protected list of players to bring back in late August for practice.

Springfield will host an equipment sale on Saturday from 10-12 in Locker Room A.

BREAKING NEWS! 2018-19 Schedule Released

Today the NAHL has officially released the 2018-19 schedule for your Springfield Jr. Blues!

See the Springfield Jr. Blues schedule HERE!

From the NAHL:

NAHL releases 2018-19 regular season schedule

JULY 2, 2018

The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced the release of the 2018-19 regular season schedule.
Celebrating its 44th season in 2018-19, the NAHL is the oldest and largest junior hockey league of its kind in the United States and one of only two USA Hockey-certified leagues that operate under the non pay-to-play model.  The NAHL is also one of the best at advancing players to NCAA and professional hockey.
The NAHL is on the cusp of setting yet another new single-season NCAA commitments record. With 305 commitments to date, the league has equaled its record-breaking total of NCAA commitments set last season. That also includes 221 NCAA Division I commitments this past season, which is a new all-time record. The league also saw nine players with NAHL experience selected in the 2018 NHL Draft held last week in Dallas, Texas.
“The schedule release is always an exciting day for NAHL teams and fans as they get the first look of which teams they will be playing and what type of rivalries will be forged and continued this season. We are coming off another incredible year of advancement and development, with another record-breaking NCAA commitment total and nine players selected in the 2018 NHL Draft,” stated NAHL Commissioner and President Mark Frankenfeld. “Our owners worked together diligently and collectively to make the schedule happen in a timely manner and our continued success is the direct result of their leadership and commitment, along with the talented players, committed coaches and wonderful relationships with the NCAA and NHL.”
Each of the 24 teams in the league’s four divisions (Central, East, Midwest and South) will play 60 regular season games. The regular season will commence on September 13, 2018 and end on April 7, 2019.
The 16th annual NAHL Showcase Tournament will be held from September 19-22, 2018 at the Schwan Super Rink in Blaine, Minnesota.  All 24 NAHL teams will play four regular-season games at the Showcase, which is one of hockey’s most prominent and popular events of the entire season. For scouting purposes, the event is a yearly gathering for every NCAA program and NHL team as they get their first look at some of the best and brightest hockey talent North America has to offer. A showcase schedule will be announced on a future date. The 2019 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament will be held from February 18-19, 2019 at the USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Michigan. A schedule and format will be announced on a future date. The 2019 Robertson Cup Championship, which crowns the NAHL’s playoff champion and USA Hockey’s Tier II Junior National Champion, will be held from May 10-13, 2019 at a neutral site and will feature the four NAHL Divisional Playoff Champions. A location for the event has yet to be determined.

NAHL is Represented in the 2018 NHL Draft

Released by the NAHL:
It was a banner day and one the NAHL will long remember as the 2018 National Hockey League (NHL) Draft wrapped up its second day on Saturday, June 23rd at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.
In all, nine players that play or have previously played in the NAHL were taken in the draft. It is the most players taken with NAHL experience since the 2010 NHL Draft when the NAHL had 16 players with NAHL experience selected, which included those from the NTDP team when they were members of the league until 2009.
“This is part of the continuing evolution of the North American Hockey League. Players are getting more exposure, more opportunities for advancement, and as a result more and more of them are worthy of consideration by NHL teams during the draft,” said NAHL Commissioner Mark Frankenfeld. “Having our coaches at the event was a great experience for everyone and we are thrilled at how the weekend went. We continue to see incredible numbers of NHL scouts at our events and because our players are competing at such a high level, we have been able to enjoy continued success at the NHL Draft. We congratulate all those players selected.”
The list of those selected included Lone Star Brahmas goalie Mitchell Gibson, who was the NAHL Goaltender and Rookie of the Year this past season. Gibson was the first American-born goaltender selected in the 2018 NHL Draft when the Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals selected him #124 overall in the 4th Round.
“I knew Washington was a possibility, but you never know. It really is a dream come true. After this past year, I had a lot of confidence in my game and myself. I was real excited to get an opportunity with Lone Star in the NAHL this year,” said Gibson, who attended the draft with his parents.
The 6’1/186 lbs. native of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, who is committed to play NCAA Division I hockey at Harvard University, tied an NAHL single-season record with 11 shutouts in 2017-18. Gibson also finished the regular season leading in the NAHL in goals against average (1.59) and save percentage (93.5%), which were both the lowest numbers in the league since the 2014-15 season. He was also 2nd in wins with 26 and played in the 2018 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament for one of two NAHL Selects teams.  The last goalie to win both the NAHL Goaltender of the Year and NAHL Rookie of the Year honors in the same season was current Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, who did it in 2011-12 with the Odessa Jackalopes.
In the 7th round, Janesville Jets forward Jakov Novak heard his name called by the Ottawa Senators with the 188th overall pick in the 7th round. The NAHL Most Valuable Player and Forward of the Year from the 2017-18 season put together a remarkable season for the Jets. Novak, who is committed to play NCAA Division I hockey for Bentley University in the fall, led all NAHL players in scoring during the regular season with 73 points in 56 games played. That included 32 goals, which also tied for the NAHL lead. He also led the NAHL with a +41 rating during the regular season, showing his talent at both ends of the ice. Novak (6’3/200) was also selected to and played in the 2018 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament, where he improved his NHL Draft stock by recording four points in two games for one of the two NAHL Selects teams. In his two-year NAHL career, he has recorded 101 points in 108 career regular season games.
“I’m honored to be part of such an unbelievable organization and beyond excited for what the future holds,” said Novak. “Honestly, I’m at a loss for words. I’m super excited and can’t wait to get things going. Training camp starts Monday.”
Janesville Jets Owner and President Bill McCoshen, who is also the NAHL’s Chairman of the Board, attended the Draft and offerered his thoughts about Novak getting drafted, as well as, the NAHL’s big day. “You may not finish here, but it is a great place to start and increase your development and move on. It is obvious that players in the NAHL are getting noticed. I think the level of our coaching is a main reason more and more guys are getting committed to NCAA schools and drafted by NHL teams.”
“When Jakov was selected I cheered. To have a kid like Jakov develop like he did in a one-year period was incredible. His development was spectacular. He put in the work off the ice to get stronger and faster and everything worked,” said McCoshen.
The other seven NAHL players drafted were all recent players in the league and include (alphabetical):
Paul Cotter, F, Brookings Blizzard (Vegas Golden Knights, Round 4/#115): The native of Canton, Michigan, led the Blizzard in scoring during the 2016-17 regular season with 60 points, which included 28 goals and 32 assists. His 60 points was tied for 6th among all NAHL players and earned him NAHL Rookie of the Year honors. Cotter committed to Western Michigan during his year in the NAHL and will play for the Broncos in 2018-19.
Mikael Hakkarainen, F, Brookings Blizzard (Chicago Blackhawks, Round 5/#139): The native of Espoo, Finland had an incredible rookie season for the Blizzard in the NAHL in 2015-16. Hakkarainen, who is committed to play at Providence College this upcoming season, recorded 40 points in 54 regular season games and was named to the All-NAHL Rookie 2nd Team in 2015-16.
Cole Koepke, F, Minnesota Wilderness (Tampa Bay Lightning, Round 6/#183): The native of Hermantown, Minnesota joined the Wilderness in the NAHL towards the end of the 2015-16 season. In total he played in 17 games, which included nine during the regular season and eight more during the Robertson Cup Playoffs. Koepke will be playing at the University of Minnesota-Duluth in 2018-19.
Brandon Kruse, F, Brookings Blizzard (Vegas Golden Knights, Round 5/#135): Kruse is a great ladder of development success story, who rocketed up the draft board after his one season in the NAHL with the Blizzard in 2016-17 and then an incredible rookie season in the NCAA this past year at Bowling Green. The native of Saline, Michigan, had 46 points in 59 games played for the Blizzard in 2016-17 and also committed to Bowling Green. During his freshman season at Bowling Green in 2017-18, he recorded 33 points in 41 games played.
Jake Kucharski, G, Austin Bruins (Carolina Hurricanes, Round 7/#197): Kucharski had climbed the ladder of development, which dates back all the way to the Esmark Stars 16U team of the NAPHL during the 2015-16 season. The native of Erie, Pennsylvania, then went onto the NAHL the following season in 2016-17 with the Austin Bruins. Kucharski played in 34 games and posted a goals against average of 3.31 and a save percentage of .894. He is committed to play at Providence College during the 2019-20 season.
Ivan Prosvetov, G, Minnesota Magicians (Arizona Coyotes, Round 4/#114): Prosvetov spent the entire 2016-17 season with the Minnesota Magicians in the NAHL. He also played in the 2017 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament where he first caught the eye of NHL scouts. During the 2016-17 season in the NAHL, the native of Moskva, Russia, played in 44 regular season games and posted a goals against average of 2.52 and a save percentage of .928.
Nathan Smith, F, Aberdeen Wings (Winnipeg Jets, Round 3/#91): Smith, who is committed to play NCAA Division I hockey at Minnesota State-Mankato this upcoming season, played in the NAHL for a small portion of the 2016-17 season. The native of Hudson, Florida, recorded two points in four games with the Wings.

Fear factor: Jr. Blues going into playoffs with seasoned goalkeeper

By Dave Kane – Sports Writer / Taken from The State Journal Register

After spending most of last season as a backup with the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the Tier I United States Hockey League, goaltender Evan Fear headed back to Tier II with the North American Hockey League’s Springfield Jr. Blues.

Instead of sulking over what could be considered a demotion, Fear took everything he learned at Dubuque and applied it to his second tour of duty with the Jr. Blues.

It’s been a memorable return to Springfield, with another chapter beginning Friday night in Janesville, Wisconsin.

“I think Evan’s oozing with confidence right now,” said first-year Jr. Blues coach Tyler Renette, who’ll guide the team into a first-round NAHL Robertson Cup playoff series against the Janesville Jets.

“To him, the puck looks like a beach ball coming at him. To me, he’s been the hottest goalie in the league the past month. He’s earned everything he’s gotten. He’s been unbelievable for us down the stretch, and he’ll be starting Friday night.”

The 18-year-old Fear, a Winnetka native, has played a big role as the last line of defense for a Jr. Blues team making its first playoff apperance since 2013.

For the season, Fear has two shutouts and a 2.39 goals-against average. That ranks him in the middle of the NAHL pack.

But Fear was in goal for six of Springfield’s eight straight wins to close the regular season, including two shootout victories in which he stopped all five penalty shots he faced against Janesville on March 28 and the Minnesota Magicians on March 30.

Fear’s backup is rookie Jurja Ovecka, a native of Slovakia who owns the other two victories in the eight-game streak.

“The goaltending position is an interesting one,” Fear said. “There can only be one guy in the net at a time.

“I think I’m playing pretty well at the moment, and I’ll be getting the first chance in the playoffs. But it’s what you do with it, right? If I lay an egg, it’ll be Juri’s chance. It’s our job to compete with each other.”

Fear joined the Jr. Blues late in the 2015-16 season. His best memory from that year was getting to play one game with older brother Erich Fear, a defenseman who spent that one season in Springfield before enrolling at the University of Denver.

Erich was a member of Denver’s NCAA Frozen Four national champions in 2017, although Evan had another commitment that kept him from joining his family to watch Erich and Denver win the Frozen Four at the United Center.

“That was a little bit of a bummer,” Evan said. “We were still in-season, so I wasn’t able to go to Chicago. It was perfect for them. They got to celebrate.”

Fear was still with the USHL Dubuque team at that point. He was the backup goalie, but he still got to play in 16 games. Practice time was equally important in his development.

“The biggest takeaway from that was Matt Millar, the goaltending coach,” Evan said. “He helped me a ton. With four or five practices a week, I got to be on the ice with (Millar) and really work on my game.”

Fear started the next preseason — for the 2017-18 campaign — with Dubuque. But he said a coaching change and his own sub-par play led to him being released.

But the Jr. Blues welcomed back Fear with open arms. Rennette, who was a Jr. Blues assistant to Tony Zasowski last year, knew Fear’s potential.

’“When Dubuque called me and wanted to know if we wanted (Evan) back, I said sure,” Rennette said. “But I told him, ‘I’m not going to just hand you the No. 1 spot. You have to earn it.’

“He came in and really battled for the job.”

Experience on the roster was a priority for Rennette this season as he added older players in hopes of making a push to the playoffs.

“I think there were two points in the regular season where (more experience) was pretty relevant,” said the 18-year-old Fear. “At the start of the year when I came here, there were a lot of teams with young guys and not much experience. That helped us early.

“Then down the stretch, when games got pretty tight with overtimes or shootouts, we’ve been able to control play with our experience — guys who’ve been there before.”

Fear has been there, in both the USHL and the NAHL. Now comes playoff pressure.

“I always get nervous before a game,” Fear said. “There are some butterflies there.

“You have to be excited for the playoffs, but you don’t change your routine too much. We’ve had a lot of success lately. We have to keep playing like we’ve been playing. If we stay confident in ourselves, I think we’ll do pretty well.”

Contact Dave Kane: 788-1544, dave.kane@sj-r.com, twitter.com/davekaneSJR.

Springfield Donates $556 to ATI Klimb4Kids

Springfield Jr. Blues athletic trainer Devin Spears of ATI Physical Therapy teamed up with Springfield to raise $556 for the ATI Foundation. The ATI Foundation supports children with physical disabilities. In 2017 the Foundation raised more than 1 million dollars, reaching more than 700 beneficiaries. Children received equipment not covered by insurance and financial assistance for medical services. Other expenses covered by the ATI Foundation include funding therapeutic horseback riding, and funding for travel and lodging for families traveling from out-of-state for care.

So why is the Foundation calling their quest the “Klimb4Kids”? From the ATI Foundation website “On March 18, ATI CEO Dylan Bates and longtime friend Matt Smith, will embark on a 6-day, 40-mile mountaineer’s journey to the 19,341 ft. summit of Africa’s Mount Kilimanjaro. Adding to the stakes, Dylan and Matt are pledging to raise $1 million for children with physical impairments through the ATI Foundation. The journey will not be without its challenges, but with your support, hundreds of children across the nation will be given the building blocks to offer a better quality of life.”

In 2018, ATI Foundation set a goal to raise 2 million dollars to erase their waiting list of 100 children in need, while also allowing them to build a foundation for future children in need with their organization. Each employee was tasked with raising $100 or more toward the foundation.

When athletic trainer Devin Spears, who works for ATI Physical Therapy in Springfield, asked the Springfield Jr. Blues for help in raising money for the cause, team owner Dan Ferguson stepped up to the plate and offered to give 100% of the profit from the sale of the team throwback vintage logo t-shirts to the ATI Foundation on behalf of Spears for any shirt sold in March. In the end, Ferguson wrote a check to ATI Foundation for $556 dollars, surpassing the $100 goal set by ATI for their employees.

To make a donation or nominate a beneficiary, visit the ATI Foundation website.

Forward Max Brainin makes NAHL Bauer Star of the Week

Springfield forward Max Brainin has a lot to be excited about this week! After finishing strong with three points over the weekend against the Coulee Region Chill, Brainin is headed to the playoffs with Springfield, and then was named the Bauer Hockey Midwest Division Star of the Week.

From the NAHL website:

Midwest Division Star of the Week: Max Brainin, forward, Springfield Jr. Blues

Winners of their last eight straight, one of the hottest teams entering the 2018 NAHL Robertson Cup Playoffs is the Springfield Jr. Blues. That hot play continued this past weekend as the Jr. Blues picked up a weekend road sweep of the Coulee Region Chill. Forward Max Brainin, 19, had three points in the two wins for the Jr. Blues and was also a +3. On Friday, the 6’0/190 lbs. native of Buffalo Grove, Illinois, had a goal in a 4-3 win over the Chill, and then on Saturday he had the game-winning goal and an assist in a 3-2 win. For the season, Brainin finished 3rd in team scoring with 40 points in 57 regular season games. “Max has really elevated his game the last few weeks. He is committed to the team game and with that he has had a ton of individual success. We will be counting on him to continue his strong play in the playoffs,” said Jr. Blues head coach Tyler Renette.

Springfield Hangs On for a 4-3 Win

The Jr. Blues jumped out to a 3-0 lead and held on for a 4-3 win against the Chill on Friday. The loss was the 7th in a row for Coulee Region. The Jr. Blues got goals from Brandon Puricelli, Max Brainin, and Patrick Smyth to take a 3-0 lead early in the 3rd period. The Chill mounted a comeback with goals from Sam Dabrowski and Andrew McGlynn, but a goal from Springfield’s Sam Swanson secured the win. Connor Zilisch had the other goal for the Chill. Jurja Ovecka made 31 saves in the win, while Mitchell James made 31 saves in the loss.

Weekend Preview – Springfield at Chill

This weekend the Springfield Jr Blues will be hosted by the Coulee Region Chill in La Crosse, Wisconsin. The teams will play, Friday and Saturday evening before Springfield practices at home and then heads out to Janesville next weekend to start the playoffs.

*Please note the Official Road Game Watch Party at Cooper’s AlleySide for all away games.*

Be sure to mark your calendars for Friday and Saturday, April 20th and 21st  (April 21st will only be played if necessary). Your Springfield Jr. Blues are home for their first home-stand of the post season. Be sure to come out on Friday for Happy Hour with $1. Coors Lite drafts from 5:45 until 6:45, $2 Blue Moon, a live band, and the puck drop at 7:05.

Saturday (if necessary) the guys are back in action with the doors opening at 5:05 and a puck drop at 6:05.

Coulee Region Chill

Tale Of The Tape:

Record: 58-17-34-4,43 Pts. (5th in Midwest)

Scoring Leaders: Nick Bowman (52 GP,  24 G – 24 A – 48 Pts.) Andrew McGlynn (55 GP,  13 G- 27 A – 40 Pts.) Brandon Koch (57 GP, 6 G – 24 A – 40 Pts.),

Player To Watch:

Brandon Koch: Koch has earned 40 points this season, 34 of which are assists. With six goals, Springfield will have to keep an eye on his play and limit his chances to set up scoring.

Between The Pipes:

Emil Zetterquist:  The Coulee goalie is 14-19 so far this season. He sports a save percentage of 0.916 and a GAA of 3.08.

 

SPRINGFIELD JR. BLUES

Tale Of The Tape:

Record: 58-31-21-5-1, 56 Pts. (3rd in Midwest)

Top Scorers: Ethan Stewart (58 GP, 17 G- 25 A -42 Pts.), Nikita Kozyrev (55 GP, 14 G- 24 A -38 Pts.), Max Branin (55 GP,  15 G- 22 A -38 Pts.)

Forward To Watch:

Marcus Walter Springfield forward Marcus Walter has logged 21 points this season with Springfield. He has 5 goals and 16 assists. He has one power play goal, nine power play assists, and one game winning goal.

Manning The Blue Line:
Nikita Kozyrev
 Springfield defenseman Nikita Kozyrev has logged 38 points this season, with 14 goals and 24 assists. He has two power play goals, 10 power play assists, one game winning goal, and FIVE shoot out goals, more than anyone else on the team.

Between The Pipes:
Evan Fear: Goaltender Evan Fear sports a save percentage of .929 this season, with 2.41 GAA. His shootout save percentage is 0.923. He is 18-11 so far this season for the Springfield Jr. Blues, and he will look to stay hot this weekend!

 

 

Here is the schedule for this round of playoffs between Janesville and Springfield:

#2 Janesville Jets vs. #3 Springfield Jr. Blues

Game 1: Friday, April 13 @ Janesville, 7:00pm

Game 2: Saturday, April 14 @ Janesville, 7:00pm

Game 3: Friday, April 20 @ Springfield, 7:05pm

Game 4: Saturday, April 21 @ Springfield, 6:05pm*

Game 5: Monday, April 23 @ Janesville, 6:00pm*

*if necessary

Official Road Game Viewing Parties!

Your Springfield Jr. Blues will be away this weekend taking on the Coulee Region Chill. Don’t miss a second of the action by coming out to the Official Road Game Viewing Party both Friday and Saturday night at 7 pm each night.

Meet other fans and possibly win prizes at Cooper’s Alleyside, located in King Pin Lanes on the corner of Dirksen and Sangamon in Springfield.

The Springfield Jr. Blues will also be away next weekend, taking on the Janesville Jets for the first round of playoffs. Again, we will meet at Cooper’s for the Road Game Viewing Parties! The games will start at 7 pm each night.

Springfield will then take home-ice on Friday the 20th, and we will be home the 21st (if necessary).