The North Iowa Bulls and Boston Junior Bruins won titles Monday in the USA Hockey Tier III Junior Hockey Nationals in Simsbury, Conn. The Tier III Junior Nationals, which opened Friday, took on a new format this year with a split into Divisions 1 and 2.
North Iowa won the championship game in a highly competitive Division 1 with a 2-1 win over the Northern Cyclones.
The Junior Bruins team from the United States Premier Hockey League Elite Division dominated Division 2, going unbeaten in round-robin play and then pounding the New York Aviators from the USPHL Empire Division 9-1 in the final.
CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES: Goalies Chris Amdsen from North Iowa and Drennen Atherton from Northern dominated the Division 1 final. Both goalies finished with 45 saves, including 32 through two scoreless periods.
Connor Bump opened the scoring for North Iowa at 7:53 of the third on an assist from Brett Gravelle.
The rest of the scoring took place in the next 2:01. Dylan Bengston scored on the power play for Northern to tie the game with 10:47 remaining. Kenny Tencza and Sean Brown assisted.
The game remained tied for just 41 seconds until Joe Burgmeier scored the game-winner off a Johnny Panvica assist.
Mike Moran and Jake Mckinnon scored two goals each for Boston, which opened a 5-0 lead by the midway point in the Division 2 final. Mckinnon had the first two goals. Moran had two of the team’s four power-play goals. Tommy Bishop and Jordan Mardirossian each had a goal and two assists. Goalie Ian Milosz had 14 saves.
CHAMPIONSHIP ROAD: North Iowa won the Tier III Division 1 national title without winning its own league playoff title. The North American 3 Hockey League was the only league with two representatives in the field. The Granite City Lumberjacks defeated North Iowa in the NA3HL’s Silver Cup Championship Game and again in the round robin at nationals.
North Iowa, Granite City and Northern, which represented the Eastern Hockey League, all finished 2-1. North Iowa and Northern won the goal-differential tiebreaker over Granite City and played for the title. The Dells Ducks from the Minnesota Junior Hockey League went 0-3.
The Junior Bruins were 3-0 by a combined margin of 15-6 in Division 2 round-robin play. The Aviators went 2-1 while the West Sound Warriors from the Northern Pacific Hockey League were 1-2 and the Boston Junior Rangers from the Metropolitan League were 0-3.
STAT LEADERS: Gravelle and Nolan Redler from the Northern Cyclones led Division 1 scorers with five points each. Amdsen led in goalie wins with three. Sandro Aeschlimann from Dells had a .963 save percentage.
Moran and Junior Bruins teammate Dan Ferri led Division 2 with four goals. Bishop and Mardirossian tied for the lead with seven points. Connor Henry and Tommy Bishop of the Junior Bruins matched Peter McDonough of the New York Aviators with five assists. Milosz won all four games for the Junior Bruins. Kyle Schumacher from New York led in save percentage at .927.
PLAYOFF BOUND: The remaining half of the United States Hockey League Clark Cup playoff spots were filled in the last week. The Omaha Lancers and Sioux Falls Stampede joined the Sioux City Musketeers and Tri-City Storm from the Western Conference. The Muskegon Lumberjacks and Dubuque Fighting Saints joined the Youngstown Phantoms and Cedar Rapids RoughRiders in the Eastern Conference.
USHL OUTBURSTS: Marc Michaelis had the USHL’s first four-goal game of the season Friday to lead the Green Bay Gamlbers to a 5-3 win over the Bloomington Thunder.
Seamus Malone of the Dubuque Fighting Saints had back-to-back hat tricks, including a five-point game in an 8-1 win over the Madison Capitals Friday.
NAHL RECORD: The Janesville Jets closed out the regular season with a road sweep of the Springfield Junior Blues to set a pair of North American Hockey League records. Janesville’s 49 wins and 100 points in the standings are both the most in NAHL history.
Matt Jurusik finished with more shutouts (seven) than losses (five) while leading the league with a .939 save percentage. He helped the Jets set another record, allowing the fewest goals in league history at 113. The Jets went 49-9-2 to win the North Division by 33 points.
MORE NAHL: The Lone Star Brahmas and Fairbanks IceDogs won NAHL division titles Saturday, the final day of the regular season.
T.J. Black made 19 saves to lead Lone Star past the Wichita Falls Wildcats 2-1 to clinch the South.
Jacob Hetz scored two goals to lift Fairbanks over the Kenai River Brown Bears 5-4 and into the Midwest Division title.
The Michigan Warriors claimed a playoff berth on the final day with a 2-1 shootout victory over the Soo Eagles. Michigan goalie Chase Munroe made 31 saves then stopped all five shootout attempts.
The NAHL’s Robertson Cup Playoffs, which also determine the USA Hockey Tier II national title, begin Thursday.
COLLEGE COMMITMENT: Sioux Falls goalie Art Brey committed to St. Lawrence University then stopped 45 of 46 shots in two weekend wins. The 20-year-old from Yorba Linda, Calif. has an 0.55 goals-against average and .976 save percentage over the past four games. He is fourth in the USHL with a 2.40 GAA.
SEASON AWARDS: Drew Cleereman from the Rochester Ice Hawks was named Forward of the Year and Kyle Gonzalez of the Hudson Crusaders was named Defenseman of the Year in the Minnesota Junior Hockey League.
Bill Zaniboni of the league champion Dells Ducks was named Coach of the Year. Aeschlimann was named Goalie of the Year and Most Valuable Player.
Cleereman, Gonzalez and Aeschlimann were named first-team, all-stars along with forward Blake Zabinski and defenseman Dave Landau from the Wisconsin Riverkings and forward Peter Karavos from the Hudson Crusaders.
Dells had half the players on the second team — forwards Ian Wood and Brady Hefner along with defenseman Bradley Hefner. The rest of the second team was Marquette Royales forward Cameron Wirick, Wisconsin Rapids defenseman Blake Anderson and Forest Lake Lakers goalie Matiss Kivlenieks.
The third team is: Hudson forward Dennis Anderson, Illiana Blackbirds forward Nathan Aloisio, Dells forward Yari Neitenbach, Rochester defenseman Vinnie Susi, Hudson defenseman Christian Ripley and Rochester goalie Sam Nelson.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
Tag(s): Junior Tier III