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Weekend Preview: Kenai River Brown Bears

Springfield, Illinois – The Springfield Jr. Blues are heading north – way north. The team has flown up to Soldotna, Alaska for a pivotal Midwest Division matchup against the Kenai River Brown Bears starting tomorrow night at 7:00 pm AKDST (10:00 pm CST).

The Jr. Blues are currently 5-7-2-1 and sit in fifth place in the division. A tough homestand against the Minnesota Magicians saw the team be outscored 15-7 in a three game set last weekend. But despite the disappointing results, positives were evident.

Springfield Jr. Blues Preview:

Brandon Puricelli (St. Louis, MO) had a 4 point weekend including two goals in Saturday’s overtime thriller, he now has points in 12 of 15 games played this season. Ben Schmidling (St. Joseph, MO) added a goal and an assist in Saturday’s game to put him at 15 points on the season so far (five goals, ten assists). Defenseman Davis Browning (Dallas, TX) provided two assists on Saturday, his first points since joining the team earlier this week. 

Caleb Hannon (Buffalo, NY) and Jack Williams (St. Louis, MO) are currently sharing the netminder duties for Springfield. Hannon currently has a 3-2-2-0 record with a 2.96 GAA and a .905 save percentage. Williams has a 2-4-0-1 record with a 3.77 GAA and a .874 save percentage. The duo will look to rebound against the Brown Bears who they played in late September to start the season.

Kenai River Brown Bears Preview:

The Kenai River Brown Bears hot start has cooled as of late as they have lost three of their last four. Despite five goals and ten assists from Zach Krajnik the Brown Bears have scored two or fewer goals eight times this season. Kenai River is bolstered by the play of goaltender Gavin Enright. In nine games this season Enright has a record of 5-2-0-1 with a 1.82 GAA and a .939 save percentage.

Season Series:

Kenai River was in Springfield on September 28th & 29th to open the home schedule at the Nelson Center. Springfield took three out of four possible points that weekend going 1-0-1-0. They play each other this weekend in a two game set, both Friday and Saturday’s games are set for 7:00 pm AKDST puck drop (10:00 CST). After this weekend the two teams will next play in January in Kenai River before wrapping up the season series in Springfield in February.


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Springfield Jr. Blues Alumni Report #4

Springfield, Illinois – The Springfield Jr. Blues have over 90 alumni playing in higher junior hockey leagues, college hockey, or professional hockey. Here is a recap of some of our alumni.

Eric McKenna (2005-06) – Kowloon Warriors, CIHL HK

Eric McKenna (Antigonish, NS, CAN) played for the Jr. Blues in the mid-2000’s and has made his way across the world playing hockey. McKenna played college hockey in Nova Scotia before heading to Sydney, Australia to play for the Ice Dogs. From Australia, McKenna headed to China where he has played for the Kowloon Warriors for the last five years. This season he has one goal and three assists through three games.

Patrick Smyth (2016-17; 2017-18) – Dubuque Fighting Saints, USHL

Patrick Smyth (Toledo, OH) played the last two seasons in Springfield, but this year he has been playing for the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the USHL. Over the weekend Smyth picked up his second goal of the season for the Saints against the USA U18 team in a 8-3 loss. Through 11 games this season Smyth has two goals and two assists. 

Lester Lancaster (2013-14; 2014-15) – Univ. of Denver, NCAA

Lester Lancaster (Ypsilanti, MI) is currently playing for the University of Denver Pioneers in the NCAA with fellow Jr. Blues Alumni, Devin Cooley. Lancaster played the last three seasons at Mercyhurst University before transferring to Denver. In four games this season, Lancaster has two goals for the Pioneers including the game tying goal in Denver’s 3-3 tie with Alaska-Fairbanks on 10/20. 

Jr. Blues Rally Late, Fall in Overtime

Springfield, Illinois – The Springfield Jr. Blues wrapped up their three game homestand against the Magicians with a 5-4 overtime loss on Saturday night. The loss in extra time dropped the Jr. Blues record to 5-7-2-1. 

Despite the outcomes of the games Thursday and Friday, the Jr. Blues resiliency was on display Saturday night as they rallied throughout the game to send the matchup into overtime. A goal by Ben Schmidling (St. Joseph, MO), two goals by Brandon Puricelli (St. Louis, MO), and a tally by Max Brainin (Buffalo Grove, IL) led Springfield offensively. 

Caleb Hannon (Buffalo, NY) stopped 26 of 31 shots in his second overtime loss of the season. Davis Browning (Dallas, TX) notched his first two points with Springfield as he had two assists in the game.  David Schmidling (St. Joseph, MO) notched his first point since returning from injury when he assisted on Springfield’s first goal of the evening.

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Jr. Blues Fall to the Magicians

Springfield, Illinois – The Springfield Jr. Blues were defeated by the Minnesota Magicians 5-1 last night, dropping the team to 5-6-1-1 on the season. Spencer DenBeste (Marquette, MI) scored his third goal of the season in the loss.

Despite being outshot 42-29, Minnesota was in control the majority of the game. Two first period goals from Cameron Buhl and Jackson Jutting put the Magicians in the driver seat and they didn’t look back. Chris Konin, Matthew Stanton and Isaac Henkemeyer-Howe all scored as well.

Springfield’s lone tally came late in the 2nd period on the power play by DenBeste, assisted by Max Brainin (Buffalo Grove, IL) and Brandon Puricelli (St. Louis, MO). Caleb Hannon (Buffalo, NY) stopped 24 of 29 shots in his second loss of the season.

The two teams are scheduled for a rematch tonight at 7:05 pm in the Jr. Blues annual Pink the Rink game. Special pink jerseys, pink merchandise, and a postgame skate with the team are all planned for tonight’s game. Make sure to follow our Facebook and Twitter for player news and upcoming event information.

Springfield Jr. Blues Alumni Report Pt. 3

Springfield, Illinois – The Springfield Jr. Blues have over 90 alumni playing in higher junior hockey leagues, college hockey, or professional hockey. Here is a recap of some of our alumni.

Tyler Parks (2011-12); Rapid City Rush, ECHL

Tyler Parks (Imperial, MO) is currently playing for the Rapid City Rush of the ECHL. In two games played this season Parks has a 3.66 GAA and a .872 save percentage. Parks has jumped back and forth between teams in the ECHL and the Peoria Rivermen of the SPHL since leaving St. Lawrence University. In parts of two seasons in Peoria he has 20 wins and has been an integral part of the Rivermen’s back to back trips to the SPHL finals.

Bradley Marek (2017-18); Central Illinois Flying Aces, USHL

Bradley Marek (Big Rapids, MI) is currently on the Central Illinois Flying Aces roster and has scored two goals and an assist in eight games played. During his time in Springfield, Marek scored 17 points (eight goals, nine assists) in 31 games and spent half the season in the USHL with the Flying Aces where his numbers were very similar (eight goals, four assists). Marek is currently committed to playing at Michigan State University for the 2019-20 season.

Mike Fazio (2012-13); Evansville Thunderbolts, SPHL

Mike Fazio (Bartlett, IL) is proving himself in the SPHL for the Evansville Thunderbolts this year, which is his second professional season after playing four years at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls (D-III). In 43 games last season Fazio had 15 points (five goals, ten assists), and through two games this season he has three points (one goal, two assists). In addition to playing for the Jr. Blues, Fazio played for Bismarck, Austin, Chicago, and Kalamazoo in the NAHL.

Weekend Recap: Janesville Jets

Janesville, WI – The Springfield Jr. Blues split the weekend series with the Janesville Jets and took two important points in what proved to be a physical, hard fought matchup. Springfield is now 5-5-1-1 and remains in 5th place in the Midwest Division.

Friday’s game started out badly for Springfield as Janesville scored less than two minutes into the contest and would lead 2-0 before the period was over. But Springfield wasn’t down for the count. Caden Villegas (Plano, TX) would score his 1st goal in the NAHL and Giovanni Carabelli (Shelby Township, MI) would tie the game on his 4th goal of the season.

The game would head to overtime, but it wouldn’t take long for Brandon Puricelli (St. Louis, MO) to score his team leading 7th goal of the season to give the Jr. Blues the victory, 3-2. Caleb Hannon (Buffalo, NY) stopped 37 of 39 shots to claim his 3rd win of the season. Ben Schmidling (St. Joseph, MO), Max Brainin (Buffalo Grove, IL), Kyle Gudme (St. Clair, MI) and Shane Haviland (Wall, NJ) all had assists on the evening.

With confidence high from the previous nights come from behind win, the Jr. Blues headed into Saturday’s game looking to sweep the Jets on their home ice. But Janesville had other ideas on how the game would go. Another 1st period goal by the Jets put them in front, and they added goals in the 2nd and 3rd period to down the Jr. Blues 3-1. The lone Springfield goal came from Nick Techel (Wausau, WI), assisted by Max Brainin (Buffalo Grove, IL) and Sam Sterne (Batavia, IL). Jack Williams stopped 21 of 24 shots and was handed his 3rd loss of the season.

Springfield is at home this weekend against the Minnesota Magicians for a big three game series. Thursday and Friday’s games start at 7:05 pm and Saturday’s game starts at 6:05 pm.

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Weekend Preview: Janesville Jets

Janesville, Wisconsin – The Springfield Jr. Blues are poised to take on the Janesville Jets this weekend in a two game series with a lot on the line. Springfield is determined to right the ship and get back to winning, while Janesville looks to continue their hot play as of late.

Springfield is heading into this weekend having lost three of their last four, including a shootout loss to Minnesota last Saturday night. The Jr. Blues sit in 5th place in the Midwest Division with a 4-4-1-1 record. Janesville, however, has won three of their last four, including two wins against 1st place Kenai River and a series split against Fairbanks. The Jets are currently in 3rd place in the division with a 7-5-0-0 record.

Between the Pipes:

Springfield Jr. Blues – Caleb Hannon (Buffalo, NY) has been a boost for the Jr. Blues this season. Hannon’s 34 save shutout against Topeka (10/6) helped halt a soaring Pilots offense that had posted 5 goals the night before (10/6). His 2.10 GAA and .931 save percentage place him near the top 10 for both categories.

Janesville Jets – Cole Brady has been hot. With a 4-2-0-0 record, a 1.97 GAA, and a .933 save percentage Brady is among the league’s best in every category. Last weekend against Kenai River, Brady stopped 75 of 77 shots and has allowed one or fewer goals in four of his seven games played this season. 

On the Attack: 

Springfield Jr. Blues – Ben Schmidling (St. Joseph, MO) and Brandon Puricelli (St. Louis, MO) have been leading the Jr. Blues offensively all season long. Schmidling’s four goal performance in the NAHL Showcase turned heads, but it’s been Puricelli consistency that has kept their attention. In 10 games so far this season, Puricelli has points in eight of them and he leads the team with six goals. 

Janesville Jets – The Jets offense has been spread around evenly to this point. Erik Bargholtz has three goals and two assists, as does Andrew Hicks, but leading point scorer Tommy Middleton only has six points on the season with five of them being helpers. The offense, primarily, has been grounded having scored two or fewer goals eight times. 

Puck drop for both games is at 7:05 pm and can be streamed live on HockeyTV. Follow our Facebook and Twitter pages for in game updates and player news. 

Springfield Jr. Blues Alumni Report Pt. 2

Springfield, Illinois – The Springfield Jr. Blues have over 90 alumni playing in higher junior hockey leagues, college hockey, or professional hockey. Here is a recap of some of our alumni.

Tommy Nappier (2015-16) Ohio State University, NCAA

Tommy Nappier (St. Louis, MO) started off his 2018-19 season at Ohio State University with a 3-0 shutout over Arizona State University. Nappier stopped all 27 shots sent his way by the Sun Devils for his first win of the season. Ohio State is now 2-0-0 on the season and will next play on Friday October 20 against the University of Massachusetts at home. Nappier is in his second season at Ohio State after playing in the USHL for the Chicago Steel and the Omaha Lancers.

Coale Norris (2015-16) Ferris State University, NCAA

Coale Norris (Oxford, MI) scored two goals this past Friday night for the Ferris State University Bulldogs against the Western Michigan University Broncos. His two goals lead the team in scoring to start this season, and he will look to build momentum this weekend against the Mercyhurst Lakers. Norris played for the Jr. Blues during the 2015-16 season before playing for the Youngstown Phantoms in the USHL. He is joined at Ferris State by fellow Jr. Blues alumni Ethan Stewart (Rockford, IL) who has no points yet on the season.

Josh Bell (2015-16; 2016-17) Missouri State University, ACHA

Josh Bell (St. Louis, MO) is currently tied for the team lead in points for the Missouri State Ice Bears with 13 points (6 goals, 7 assists). Bell is in his third season at Missouri State after playing parts of two season with the Jr. Blues. Bell had a two goal game against Central Oklahoma on September 29th, and a three point game against the University of Oklahoma on September 27th. Missouri State is off until November 1st against the University of Colorado.

Brainin, Puricelli Earn Honorable Mentions

Springfield, Illinois – The Springfield Jr. Blues, proud member of the North American Hockey League (NAHL), are proud to announce that forwards Max Brainin (Buffalo Grove, IL) and Brandon Puricelli (St. Louis, MO) were named Honorable Mentions for the Midwest Division Star of the Week.

Brainin, who is in his second season here in the capital city, had two goals on the weekend and ended with a plus-1 rating. Brainin now has eight points on the season, four goals and four assists, which is good enough for third on the team. It was Brainin’s second two-goal performance in as many weekends as he scored twice against Topeka as well.

Puricelli is in his third campaign in Springfield and had two goals and an assist on the weekend. Puricelli currently leads the Jr. Blues with six goals and his 10 points are second most on the team. He has gotten on the scoresheet in all but two games this season, the season opener against the Maryland Black Bears and against Topeka on 10/6.

Springfield has now had at least one player be mentioned for Star of the Week three out of four possible weeks. The Schmidling brothers (St. Joseph, MO) in week one, none in week two, Nick Techel (Wausau, WI) and Brainin in week three, and now Brainin and Puricelli.

Jr. Blues Fail to Break Magicians Spell

Richfield, Minnesota – The Springfield Jr. Blues rallied in the 3rd period Saturday night against the Minnesota Magicians but fell short of the comeback, losing 5-4 in a shootout. Springfield’s record drops to 4-4-1-1 on the campaign and puts them in sole possession of 5th place in the Midwest Division.

Minnesota jumped out to an early lead in the 1st period as Isaac Henkmeyer-Howe scored just under three minutes into the game. Springfield would respond when Artjoms Lapiks (Riga, Latvia) scored his first goal of the season assisted by Brandon Puricelli (St. Louis, MO).

Minnesota would dominate the 2nd period as they scored three goals. One goal from Henkmeyer-Howe, one from Matthew Stanton, and one from Cameron Buhl. Springfield’s lone 2nd period tally came from Puricelli under five minutes into the period, which at the time tied the game 2-2. Jayden Jensen (Marengo, IL) and Max Osborne (Anchorage, AK) assisted on Puricelli’s goal, but heading into the 2nd intermission Minnesota was in front 4-2.

It took an incredible 3rd period performance by Max Brainin (Buffalo Grove, IL) and Jack Williams (St. Louis, MO) to tie the game up at 4, as Brainin scored twice in the period and Williams stopped all 13 Magicians shots. The first goal occurred at the 4:29 mark of the period assisted by Lukas Zukauskas (Jonova, Lithuania) and Ben Schmidling (St. Joseph, MO). The second goal was unassisted right before the halfway mark of the period, and for the final 10 minutes the game was tied 4-4. 

But that was where the luck would run out for the boys in blue. Despite scoring chances in overtime and a lead in the shootout, Minnesota capitalized on back to back attempts to claim the victory. 

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