Tag Archives: junior hockey

Jr. Blues Blank Topeka to Split Series

Springfield, Illinois – The Springfield Jr. Blues shutout the Topeka Pilots 3-0 on Saturday night to split the weekend series and improve their record to 4-3-1-0. The Jr. Blues still sit in 4th in the Midwest Division but are just one point behind the Janesville Jets and Minnesota Magicians who are tied for 2nd place.

Saturday’s game was offense heavy in the 2nd period again as the Jr. Blues scored three times during the period. Max Brainin (Buffalo Grove, IL) scored 2:47 into the second frame for his first goal of the season, assisted by Nick Techel (Wausau, WI) and Ryan Reid (Phoenix, AZ). Brainin would strike again with a little less than five minutes left in the period to increase the lead to 2-0. Ben Schmidling (St. Joseph, MO) and Max Osborne (Anchorage, AK) assisted on Brainin’s second goal.

But the offense wasn’t through yet. With just :08 left in the period, Ryan Reid scored his second goal of the season from Ben Schmidling and Nick Techel to put the Jr. Blues ahead 3-0 heading into the second intermission.

That would be all the scoring Caleb Hannon (Bufallo, NY) would need, however, as he shut the door on Topeka to earn his first shutout and second win of the season.The 19-year-old Taft School alumni also made a huge save on a penalty shot in the 2nd period that would have tied the game. Hannon improved his Goals Against Average (GAA) to 1.33 which is good for 6th best in the NAHL.

The Jr. Blues travel to Minnesota this weekend to square off with the Magicians on Friday and Saturday. The Magicians have been paced by goaltender Ethan Haider, who has four wins and a 1.67 GAA. The Jr. Blues will look to solve Haider and the Magicians and climb higher in the standings and you can watch the games live on HockeyTV.

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Jr. Blues Lose in Showcase Finale

Blaine, Minnesota – The Springfield Jr. Blues finished off the 2018 NAHL Showcase Saturday afternoon against the Johnstown Tomahawks losing 3-1. The Jr. Blues only goal was scored by Spencer DenBeste (Marquette, MI) and they finished the Showcase with a 2-2-0-0 record.

Johnstown opened the scoring five minutes into the 1st period when Chad Merell scored on a odd man advantage beating George McBey (Dallas, TX) for his fifth goal of the season. The 1st period tally would be the only offense for either team until :37 into the third period when Mitchell Hale scored his third goal of the season for the Tomahawks and the score was 2-0. Chad Merell scored a shorthanded breakaway goal just after the halfway mark of the period to increase their lead to 3-0.

The Springfield Jr. Blues would get on the board with 5:39 left in the game when Spencer DenBeste broke up Carter MacPhail’s shutout on the power play. Brandon Puricelli (St. Louis, MO) and Nikita Kozyrev (Tallinn, Estonia) assisted on the goal. The goal was the second in as many days for the Lake Superior State University commit, however, the Jr. Blues were unable to complete the comeback and Johnstown held on for the victory.

George McBey played well in net for the boys in blue, stopping 33 of 36 shots sent his way. Special teams proved to be an important factor in the game, as the Jr. Blues penalty kill was perfect going 9-for-9. The power play generated the only offense, but also surrendered an important shorthanded goal in the 3rd period that proved to be too much for the Jr. blues to overcome. 

The Jr. Blues will be back in town next Friday against the Kenai River Brown Bears as they kick off their home schedule at 7:05 p.m. The Brown Bears are currently 3-2-0-0 and are tied for 1st in the tightly contested Midwest Division.

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Jr. Blues Earn First Victory Against the Generals

The Springfield Jr. Blues played their second game of the NAHL Showcase last night and bounced back with a 3-1 win over the Northeast Generals. The Jr. Blues were led by Ben Schmidling (St. Joseph, MO) offensively and a stellar performance between the pipes by Caleb Hannon (Buffalo, NY).

It was a quiet first period on the score sheet from both teams despite 13 shots by the Jr. Blues. The Generals had three 1st period power play opportunities but were unable to capitalize on any of them and heading into the first break the game was even, 0-0.

Reminiscent of Wednesday night’s game, an offensive breakout in the second period by the Jr. Blues proved to be too much for the Generals to handle. Just 1:11 into the second frame Brandon Puricelli (St. Louis, MO) put the Jr. Blues in the driver seat and set the tone for the remainder of the period. The Schmidling brothers, Ben and David (St. Joseph, MO), both had assists on the Puricelli goal. The Jr. Blues would add to the lead just under four minutes later when Ben Schmidling notched his second goal of the season with assists from David Schmidling and Max Brainin (Buffalo Grove, IL). A third tally with 6:22 left in the period again by Ben Schmidling put the Jr. Blues up 3-0, the goal was assisted by David Schmidling and Max Brainin. The boys in blue put up 21 shots in the 2nd period and 43 throughout the game.

The 3rd period was a much better effort by the Northeast Generals as they were able to break up the shut out for Caleb Hannon with a goal by Aurel Naus just over five minutes into the period. But that would be all the offense that the Generals could muster, and the Jr. Blues held on for the 3-1 win.

Hannon finished with 32 saves and helped the Jr. Blues earn their first victory of the campaign. Ben Schmidling was on fire scoring two goals and adding an assist for three points on the evening. Not to be outdone by his brother, David Schmidling had three assists and both were plus-3 on the evening. The pair currently lead the team in points with four points apiece through two games. 

The Jr. Blues look to continue their winning ways this afternoon against the Odessa Jackalopes at 1:30 p.m. Odessa is coming off a huge comeback yesterday against the New Jersey Titans where they scored four 3rd period goals including three within two minutes to raise their record to 2-2-0-1. The last meeting between the Jr. Blues and Odessa took place at the 2015 NAHL Showcase where Odessa beat the Jr. Blues 5-1.

Watch the game live on HockeyTV and make sure to follow our Facebook and Twitter pages for live in-game updates.

PRESEASON Games 9/7 and 9/8

The Springfield Jr. Blues will host the first set of pre-season games this weekend, Friday, September 7th and Saturday, September 8th. The games will take place at The Nelson Center in Springfield, Illinois against the Mudbugs. The final home pre-game will be on Saturday, September 15th against the University of Iowa.

The Mudbugs won the Robertson Cup last year against the Minot Minotauros.

This past weekend, Springfield traveled to Shreveport to be hosted by the Mudbugs but were swept in a two-game series.

The doors open on Friday at 6:05 for a 7:05 puck drop. Saturday the doors open at 5:05 for a 6:05 puck drop. Doors will open on Saturday the 15th at 5:05 for a 6:05 puck drop.

Tickets can be picked up at The Nelson Center until 9/6. Tickets can also be purchased for just $5.00 at the door either night!

Springfield Jr. Blues Host Hockey Camp

The Springfield Jr. Blues hosted a hockey camp this week for children ages 9-18 at The Nelson Center.

Springfield Assistant Coach, Josh Dallmann, and Learn to Skate Coordinator and Power Hockey Instructor Jenn Fortin teamed up to teach the children for several hours each day. The instructors worked on and off the ice.

On-ice time included working on passing, shooting, stick handling, puck handling, skating, and hockey skills.

Off-ice, the teams worked on plyometrics, stick handling, and explosion training.

The coaches were assisted by Springfield Jr. Blues players, Sam Sterne and Sam Swanson for the week! 

NAHL Showcase Schedule Released

The NAHL has released the 16th annual Showcase schedule for 2018. The Showcase is held September 19-22nd at the Super Rink in Blaine, Minnesota.

All 24 of the NAHL teams will play four regular-season games at the Showcase, which has been called the ‘Greatest Show on Ice.’

The schedule for the Springfield Jr. Blues is as follows:

Wednesday, September 19th: @ 7:30 pm (CST) against Maryland Black Bears

Thursday, September 20th: @ 8:00 pm (CST) against Northeast Generals

Friday, September 21st: @ 1:30 pm (CST) against Odessa Jackalopes

Saturday, September 22nd: @ 1:00 pm (CST) against Johnstown Tomahawks

All 48 NAHL Showcase games will be broadcast live and in HD through HockeyTV, the official broadcast provider of the NAHL.

Springfield Announces Pre-Season Games

The Springfield Jr. Blues have announced their much-anticipated pre-season schedule for the 2018-2019 season.

The Shreveport Mudbugs, the 2018 Robertson Cup winners, will play on Springfield’s home ice September 7th and 8th, during the pre-season. Friday September 7th, the game will start at 7:05, with the puck dropping at 6:05 on Saturday the 8th.

The Shreveport Mudbugs are part of the NAHL South Division, and do not usually meet with Springfield during the regular season.

Springfield will visit Shreveport first, with games over Labor Day weekend on Shreveport’s home ice.

The Springfield Jr. Blues will also play the University of Illinois hockey team on Saturday, September 15th at 6:05, giving fans an extra game this pre-season. The official season opens for Springfield at home on September 28th.

Tickets for all pre-season games will be just $5.00 at the door each night, for all fans.

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.

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.

Forward Ethan Stewart Commits to Ferris State

Rockford, Illinois native, and Springfield Jr. Blues fan favorite, Ethan Stewart has committed to play D1 college hockey at Ferris State University.

“As a coach I can’t say enough about this kid,” said Head Coach Tyler Rennette. “Stewart came to the rink everyday with a smile on his face and worked his tail off. This commitment is well deserved,  Ferris State is getting a first class kid.”

Stewart has played 60 games this season, scoring 17 goals, and 30 assists for a total of 47 points. Stewart had one game winning goal this season and is looking strong in the post season.