NA3HL 2013-14 Mid-Season Report
December 20, 2013
21-8-0 - 42 points, 1st Place
Leading Scorer: Nathan Chasteen – 45 pts
A new look and a new coach have the Peoria Mustangs riding high as they enter the half waypoint of the season at the top of the very close Central division. A major part of the Mustangs success came during a 14 game winning streak that lasted from the end of October until early December. This streak included a 3-0-0 record at the NA3HL Showcase. A player familiar to Peoria fans, Nathan Chasteen, leads the Mustangs offensive attack. After spending last season in the NAHL Chasteen has returned with a vengeance racking up 33 assists, which is good for 2nd in the NA3HL. The Mustangs have had a committee of goaltenders with each of the three playing in at least 7 games this season. Cumberland, Wisconsin native Marc Hayton has seen the most games in net for the Mustangs and has put together a solid record of 10-3-0.
Chicago Junior Bulldogs
14-7-5 - 33 points, 2nd Place
Leading Scorer: Luke Morin – 30 pts.
The Chicago Junior Bulldogs, the newest member of the NA3HL, have found their groove and put themselves in a good position to make a run for the Central Division title. Sitting only nine points back of Peoria, the Junior Bulldogs have done the bulk of their damage when they are in their home arena earning a point in 9 of 11 games, best in the Central division. Chicago has received consistent scoring and have five players with 20 points or more led by Luke Morin, who leads the team with 30. Goaltending has been strength for the Junior Bulldogs, who go with a rotation of three goaltenders. In particular, 19 year-old Michael Krch has turned in some of the best goaltending performances of the season including a 60 save win over Cincinnati and a 67 save win over St. Louis, which both came during a four game win streak for Krch.
13-8-5 - 31 points, 3rd Place
Leading Scorer: Ryan Martin – 37 pts.
A change in scenery was all the Wisconsin Whalers franchise needed to find success as the former Quad City Jr. Flames have already blown past their last season point total and are looking to contend in the division race. Newcomer Ryan Martin has been the offensive catalyst the Whalers have relied on all season putting the back in the back of the net almost as many times as he dishes out assists putting up 18 goals and 19 assists so far this season. After joining the team in late September Zack Johnson has been Martin’s partner in crime putting up a 35 points and scoring in all but one of the 18 games he has played in this season. The Whalers have two goaltenders, David Volkmann and Michal Marcinek, that share the team lead for wins with five.
St. Louis Jr. Blues
14-10-2 - 30 points, 4th place
Leading Scorer: Mike Lozano – 27 pts.
Just a year after running away with the Central division title the Jr. Blues are currently catching up and in a heated race to catch the division leader. The Jr. Blues goal differential is second to only division leading Peoria and St. Louis has lost some extremely close games against the teams they are battling against. Led on offense by their captain Mike Lozano who is putting up over a point a game on the season. Their blue line is anchored by 17 year-old Adam Roeder, who has already signed a tender with the NAHL’s Janesville Jets. Emerging in the net for the Jr. Blues is Billy Hindle with a 9-2 record and three wins over the division leading Peoria Mustangs this season.
13-13-2 - 28 points, 5th place
Leading Scorer: Nikita Korotkov – 31 pts.
Already with 28 points at the halfway mark the former Queen City Steam are on pace to eclipse their last years point total in the standings. The Swords have seen a balanced attack on offense totaling five forwards with 20-plus points. The catalyst for the Swords has been Nikita Korotkov, who is leading the team in assists and points. The Swords have been successful in moving players up the junior ranks as defenseman Ryan Sete was called up to Brookings of the NAHL and has already contributed four points in four games for the Blizzard. Sete was the source of a coast-to-coast highlight reel goal that capped a night where he scored four goals. Alec Rounds has played the majority of games in net for the Swords and leads the team with seven wins.
Battle Creek Jr. Revolution
1-22-0 - 2 points, 6th place
Leading Scorer: Michael Schmitt – 9 pts.
The Jr. Revolution have had a tough time getting their wheels turning on the season and have fallen to the bottom of the division in the process. Battle Creek did pick up a dramatic victory during the NA3HL Showcase when they defeated the Topeka Capitals 4-3. Goaltender Zach Kooi stopped 40 shots in the process and Jr. Revolution forward Michael Schmitt picked up three points to spark the victory. Schmitt is the leading scorer for Battle Creek with nine points. The Jr. Revolution goaltenders have had multiple games in which they have stopped 60 or more shots so if they can find their offensive firepower they will be sure to find more victories in the second half of the season.
Flint Junior Generals
27-1-2 - 56 points, 1st place
Leading Scorer: Justin Fisher – 36 pts.
One of the biggest surprises of the halfway point is the success of the Flint Junior Generals, who currently sit at the top of the NA3HL standings. The Junior Generals went on a historic win streak winning 21 straight games to set the NA3HL record. In addition to the win streak the Junior Generals have sent three players to the NAHL sending Jacob Howie to the Minot Minotauros, Cam Jorgensen to the Michigan Warriors and goaltender Nathan Klebe to the Soo Eagles. The scoring has been spread around the roster with every active skater with at least one point and eight Flint players with 20+ points. Although the Junior Generals lost Klebe in net they still have an all-star caliber goaltender in Anders Franke who is leading the NA3HL in wins by a large margin with 17.
Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks
15-11-3 - 33 points, 2nd place
Leading Scorer: Jared Johnson – 45 pts.
With Flint looking down on the rest of the East division it’s the Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks sit at 2nd place working to move their way back to the 1st place spot they are accustomed too. The Jr. Lumberjacks have seen offensive fireworks from returning forward Jared Johnson, who sits in the top 10 of the NA3HL scoring leaders. The Hartland, Wisconsin native has already surpassed his rookie season total of 34 and has doubled his goal totals from 8 to 16 with still the rest of the season to go. He is not alone, as he has received significant help from fellow returning forward Nick Balavich, who is second on the team with 33 points. The bulk of the goaltending has been handled by Joseph Moza, who has seen action in 21 games on his way to nine wins. Tyler Jansen has played admirably in net when called up on with a 5-0-2 record in 9 appearances.
13-9-6 - 32 points, 3rd place
Leading Scorer: Joseph Randazzo/Tom Diffendal – 28 pts.
The Pittsburgh Vengeance season has been a roller coaster of emotions but sit in third place of the East division with the second best win percentage at .571. The Vengeance offense is led by the play of Joseph Randazzo and Tom Diffendal, who co-lead the team with 28 points. Complementing the play of their leading scorers is Lukas Friberger who is averaging a point per game. Tragedy struck for the Vengeance when veteran forward Kevin Kenny hit the boards and suffered an extremely serious injury that ended his season and is a major source of motivation for the Vengeance. Since the injury the Vengeance has been able to secure a point in each game they have played. Stuck in a battle for the second place position in the division the Vengeance know if they are “Kenny Strong” everything else will fall in place.
12-10-4 - 28 points, 4th place
Leading Scorer: Tyler Zalecki – 32 pts.
The Cherokee currently sit two games above .500 and are led by a balanced offensive attack from Tyler Zalecki, who has scored 32 points split equally between goals and assists. Toledo is feeling the most comfortable when they play at home picking up points in eight of eleven games going 5-3-3 at their home rink. The Cherokee goaltending has been carried by Clay Horvath who leads the team in games played with fourteen and wins with seven. The Cherokee are starting to get production from two other forwards consistently, Brody Duncan and Dominic Antonelli, who have just recently eclipsed the twenty-point plateau.
12-15-2 - 26 points, 5th place
Leading Scorer: Brad Hepler – 29 pts.
The first half of the Metro Jets season has been a struggle for the team to find consistency and have fallen just below the .500 mark. The team made a coaching change at the beginning of the season hiring Justin Quenneville, who was the coach of the Corpus Christi IceRays of the NAHL last season. Offensively for the Metro Jets the scoring has been coming from the back end in the form of Brad Hepler, who leads the team with 29 points. His eight goals put him in a tie for most goals scored by a defenseman in the NA3HL. The Jets lost their leading forward scorer when Kevin Shand was picked up by Springfield of the NAHL but have recently found a replacement in the form of new acquisition Lucas Linville, who in his four games with Metro has scored seven goals. The goaltending duties have been split between Trevor Kalinowski and Kameron Limburg with Kalinowski leading the team with six wins.
Michigan Mountain Cats
5-19-2 - 12 points, 6th place
Leading Scorer: Max Vance – 18 pts.
The Michigan Mountain Cats are looking to stay positive after a slow start to the season but have found consistent scoring that gives them a chance at climbing up the division standings. Led by Max Vance, the Mountain Cats have six players in double figures in points and Mountain Cats captain John Arms leads the team with ten goals. Goaltending has been tough to find consistency for the Mountain Cats, which has been split between Kevin O’Shea and Walker Bass. Bass leads the team with five wins on the season and O’Shea has an impressive 530 saves on the year, which ranks him in the top three of the league. Another impressive stat is that O’Shea holds the NA3HL season high in saves when he stopped 70 shots in their game on December 8th.
13-8-1 - 27 points, 1st place
Leading Scorer: Yu Hikosaka – 29 pts.
Sitting at the top of the new NA3HL South division is the Topeka Capitals who have been a team to beat in the South since the start of the year. Yu Hikosaka, who has 29 points in 16 games so far this season, leads the Capitals offensively. Hikosaka recently was selected to play for Team Japan at the U20 World Championships for Division I - Group B in Great Britain, where he led the team in scoring as well. Hikosaka shares the team goal scoring lead with forward Hardijs Kupaks who also has 15 goals on the season and was the key offensive player while Hikosaka was gone. Goaltending has been a strong point for the Capitals with Jude Hull amassing an 11-4-1 record between the pipes. Hull, the son of NHL Hall of Famer Brett Hull, is averaging 30 saves a game for Topeka.
Sugar Land Imperials
9-6-2 - 20 points, 2nd place
Leading Scorer: Yves Bader /Tucker Spooner – 31 pts.
The most southern team in the NA3HL have played the least amount of games in the division but still sit in second place just seven points behind the leading Topeka Capitals. The Imperials have two forwards, Yves Bader & Tucker Spooner, leading the pack in scoring at 31 points. Bader leads the team in goals with 17 while Spooner leads the team in assists with 19. The Imperials hold an impressive record against the division leading Capitals sweeping Topeka in the only series they have played. Goaltending has been split between Colton Anderson and Matt Douglas with Anderson boasting the better record at 6-3-0 this season.
Dallas Jr. Stars
8-12-2 - 18 points, 3rd place
Leading Scorer: Raurie Petrich – 22 pts.
Although the Jr. Stars are sitting in 3rd place in the South division they have already seen major player movement in the franchises young existence. Team leading scorer Raurie Petrich is the latest Jr. Star to get noticed and has committed to Aurora University, an NCAA DIII program, to play his college hockey. In addition to Petrich committing the Jr. Stars have also moved defenseman Ben Owen up to the Lone Star Brahmas where he is already become a vital part to the NAHL clubs blue line corps. The Jr. Stars also enjoyed success at the NA3HL Showcase where they picked up two wins against established NA3HL teams. In net for the Jr. Stars Chris Mallon has seen the majority of the work with 12 games between the pipes putting up a record of 5-6-1. Link Ferch and Steffan Muller split time as the back up with each appearing in at least five games.
North Iowa Bulls
23-1-0 - 46 points, 1st place
Leading Scorer: Timothy Santopoalo – 55 pts.
Picking up exactly where they left off last season the defending Tier III National Champion North Iowa Bulls are winning games and have the best winning percentage in the NA3HL at .958. The Bulls have a three-player attack that leads them offensively with Timothy Santopoalo, Richie Marenis and Matt Kroska who not only sit 1-2-3 in scoring for the Bulls but also sit in that order at the top of the NA3HL Scoring Leaders. Each has at least 50 points and are on pace to put up record-breaking numbers on the season. The rest of the Bulls have been consistent in chipping in with 12 players putting up points in double figures. Three goalies have played games this year for the Bulls with Chris Amsden leading the way in 12 games with an 11-1-0 record on the year. Jared Schletty serves as the primary backup for the Bulls and has an 8-0-0 record in net for North Iowa.
Granite City Lumberjacks
22-7-0 - 44 points, 2nd place
Leading Scorer: Aidan Verbeke – 47 pts.
The Granite City Lumberjacks are just two points out of 1st place in the West division and can thank an extremely strong road record for their success. In road games this season the Lumberjacks are 12-3-0 giving them two more wins on the road then when they are at home. The scoring has been led by line mates Aidan Verbeke and Drew Otto who have 47 and 45 points, respectively. Defenseman Mitchell Gwost has put up 32 points this season and leads the NA3HL in scoring by defensemen. Austin Wilson and Scott Murray who both have put up eleven wins on the year have split the goaltending duties. The goaltenders are thankful for their defensemen this season as the Lumberjacks lead the NA3HL in least shots against averaging only 24 shots a game from the opposing squad.
17-9-0 - 34 points, 3rd place
Leading Scorer: Joe Anderson – 41 pts.
There has been only one team to defeat the league leading North Iowa Bulls this season and that team was the Alexandria Blizzard. The Blizzard knocked off the defending National Champions in an impressive fashion when they won by a lopsided score of 5-1. The Blizzard are led by forward Joe Anderson, who started the season with the Brookings Blizzard. Since being acquired by Alexandria he has been on a scoring tear putting up 41 points in 21 games. During a six game streak at the beginning of October Anderson put up at least three points in each game. Ian Ecklund, who has 39 points on the year and leads Alexandria with 27 assists, joins Anderson at the top of the Blizzard scoring lead. Tanner Elmore has been a rock for the Blizzard in the net appearing in 12 games and has a 9-2 record on the year. Elmore was between the pipes for the North Iowa victory stopping 44 shots during the game.
Twin City Steel
12-12-2 - 26 points, 4th place
Leading Scorer: Jace Childs – 48 pts.
After a slow start to the season the Twin City Steel have found their game and in the past 10 games have put together a 7-2-1 record to put them back in a playoff spot in the West division. Jace Childs is the offensive catalyst for the Twin City squad and leads the team in both goals (23) and assists (25). He received some offensive help midway through the season when the Steel acquired Alexander Konnov from the Minnesota Magicians of the NAHL. Since joining the Steel Konnov has averaged almost two points per game scoring 30 points in 16 outings. The Steel was extremely impressive at the NA3HL Showcase putting up an undefeated record of 4-0-0. Jackson Germaine has emerged as the top goalie for the Steel and put together an impressive record of 5-0-0 in the month of November, with his best game coming against division rival Alexandria with a 35 save shutout.
Breezy Point North Stars
6-20-2 - 14 points, 5th place
Leading Scorer: Crosby Steen – 17 pts.
The Breezy Point North Stars are enjoying their best season so far in the NA3HL already picking up more wins then they had all of last season. The North Stars have not found their offensive groove yet this season but a consistent attack and a newly acquired forward may help them in the second half of the season. The first half of the year was led by North Stars captain Crosby Steen who had 17 points on the season. He may have just received some scoring help as the North Stars just acquired Nick Manney from the Topeka Capitals. Manney was the 2nd leading scorer in Topeka and has 9 goals and 17 assists immediately making him the leader in both categories in Breezy Point. Joey Bergquist has been the starting goalie for Breezy Point appearing in 18 games for the North Stars and picking up four wins on the season.
Minnesota Flying Aces
6-20-1 - 13 points, 6th place
Leading Scorer: Jake Mullendore – 32 pts.
The Flying Aces are struggling to find their consistency on the young season but have a found a scoring threat that leads the team in points this season. Jake Mullendore is one of the most dangerous and consistent scorers in the NA3HL and proved that when he put up a six-point performance against Chicago at the end of November. Mullendore is the latest NA3HL player to put up six points in a game, which is the league high for this season. The Flying Aces have split goaltending duties between Mike Stumpf and Jaxson Gosnell. Stumpf leads the team with four wins and recently has found the winning touch between the pipes going 4-1 in his last five starts. This newfound success may be the key to the turn around of the Flying Aces season.