Sean Lawrence made 37 saves and assisted on one of John Picking’s two goals Monday when the Boston Junior Bruins of the United States Premier Hockey League’s Premier Division captured the USA Hockey Tier III Junior National Championship with a 4-1 victory over the North Iowa Bulls of the North American 3 Hockey League.
Boston and North Iowa dominated the tournament in Simsbury, Conn. from Thursday to Sunday, setting up Monday’s showdown between the defending national champion Bulls and the 2011 champion Bruins.
Vincent Russo, Ryan Cloonan and Brian Bowen joined Picking with two points each in the win.
North Iowa’s Tim Santopoalo actually scored first, finding the back of the net on a breakaway 13:53 into the game. However, Russo tied the game at 18:10 of the first, then Cloonan scored once and Picking twice in the second period.
ROAD TO FINAL: Boston faced a tough test in the tournament opener before beating the New Hampshire Monarchs 5-3 on Thursday. The Bruins dominated the field after they. They outscored their remaining three opponents 23-1 to win two more Pool A games and then won 6-0 over the Springfield Pics in the semifinals of the USPHL Elite Division.
Lawrence had two shutouts along the way and finished the tournament with 107 saves in 111 shots for a 1.00 goals-against average and .964 save percentage. Alex Brinks led the team in scoring with six points and three assists.
North Iowa won Pool C and outscored four opponents 26-4, including a 5-1 win over the Eastern League’s Northern Cyclones in the semifinals.
Northern outshot North Iowa 22-7 in the second period, but Santopoalo, Conor Jonasson and Wesley Iverson scored during that time to give the Bulls a 4-1 lead. North Iowa’s Rihards Marenis was the tournament’s leading scorer with seven goals and four assists.
NATIONAL RECAP: While Boston and North Iowa were going 3-0 in pool play, five teams were going 2-1. Two of those teams advanced.
The Springfield Pics and Northern Cyclones were part of a three-way tie at 2-1 in Pool B and advanced on tiebreakers as the pool winner and wild card, respectively.
New Hampshire, in Pool A, and the Dells Ducks of the Minnesota Junior Hockey League, in Pool C, also finished 2-1.
ROBERTSON CUP: The Topeka RoadRunners became the first team to advance in the North American Hockey League’s Robertson Cup playoffs Wednesday night while the Kenai River Brown Bears won to stretch their series with the Fairbanks Ice Dogs to a fifth and deciding game. The Robertson Cup also determines the USA Hockey Tier II national title.
Jason Fernsler scored unassisted at 14:54 of overtime to lift Topeka to a 3-2 win over the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees to complete a three-game sweep that included two overtime wins. P.J. Bridges stopped 76 of 80 shots during the series for Topeka.
Albin Karlsson scored the first two goals when Kenai River, the last team to qualify for the playoffs, edged regular-season champion Fairbanks 4-3 in Game 4 to even the series at 2-2. League scoring champion Alec Butcher assisted on both Karlsson goals. Butcher scored all three goals in a 3-2 overtime win in Game 2.
Evan Giesler has five goals to help the Bismarck Bobcats to a 2-0 series lead over the Aberdeen Wings.
Also leading series 2-0 are the Michigan Warriors over the Janesville Jets, Amarillo Bulls over the Wichita Falls Wildcats and the Port Huron Fighting Falcons over the Johnstown Tomahawks.
The Wenatchee Wild won the first two games before the Minnesota Wilderness posted a 4-0 shutout Sunday to extend the series.
The Austin Bruins and Minot Minotauros are tied 1-1.
CLARK CUP: The United States Hockey League’s Clark Cup Playoffs, which determine the USA Hockey Tier I national championship, began Friday with eight teams.
The Waterloo Black Hawks, the top seed in the Western Conference, will play the Sioux Falls Stampede in a best-of-five series that starts Friday. The Omaha Lancers and Sioux City Musketeers meet in the other Western series, beginning Saturday.
Both Eastern Conference series open Friday. The division champion Indiana Ice play the Green Bay Gamblers and the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders play the defending champion Dubuque Fighting Saints.
ANDERSON CUP: Waterloo captured the USHL’s Anderson Cup as overall regular-season champion with a 3-2 shootout victory over Cedar Rapids in the regular-season finale. The Black Hawks finished 44-11-5. Waterloo’s title run included a 16-game winning streak that was part of a league record 23-game unbeaten streak.
COLLEGE COMMITMENT: Forward Conor Andrle of the NAHL’s Brookings Blizzard has committed to Army. Andrle, from St. Louis Park, Minn., was second on the team with 34 points in 36 games.
Defenseman Kyle Mackey from the USHL’s Youngstown Phantoms has committed to the Air Force Academy. Mackey is a 19-year-old from Derby, N.Y.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.