Metro, West Michigan and North Iowa round out division champs
March 15, 2015
East Division Finals (Metro wins best of three series, 2-1)
Game 3: Pittsburgh 1 @ Metro 2
Cody Jones said there was “never any doubt.” His goal in the final minute of the second period put the Metro Jets up 2-1 on the Pittsburgh Vengeance in the deciding Game 3 of the NA3HL East Division finals Sunday afternoon. And that’s the way it ended as the Jets held off the Vengeance for the third period and skated away in the Lakeland Arena finale with a division playoff championship. Ryan Bloom opened the scoring at 14:05 of the first period before Nils Markgren tied it for Pittsburgh 7:41 into the second. Jets’ goalie Jake Stephan, inserted as the starter after Kam Limburg played Games 1 and 2, earned the win with a 17-save performance. Pittsburgh goaltender Brian Baker stopped 45 shots in suffering the loss. Metro head coach Justin Quenneville said after the game that getting to this point of the season starts with “waking up in the morning wanting to be the best. You train to be the best and you hope to be the best,” said Quenneville. “When we were putting this team together last summer, we knew we had something special. We found some good pieces and added a few more as the season went along. Collectively as a team, the kids showed some promise, some promising hockey, in terms of where we could end up at the end of the year.
Central Division Finals (West Michigan wins best of three series, 2-1)
Game 3: Wisconsin 1 @ West Michigan 5
The West Michigan Wolves were firing on all cylinders against the Wisconsin Whalers, and when the final buzzer sounded Wolves emerged with a 5-1 win. The win by West Michigan clinched the best of three series at 2-1 and West Michigan will represent the Central Division at the event as the Champions. The Wolves were led by goalie Hunter Vorva, who finished with 28 saves while allowing one goal. West Michigan was helped by Steven Rhodes, who tallied one goal and one assist. Rhodes scored on the power play 12:51 into the first period to make the score 2-0 West Michigan. West Michigan also got points from Dakota Ulmer, who also racked up one goal and two assists to lead the team in points and Ethan Stafford, who also registered one goal and one assist. Devin Farkas also scored for West Michigan. More assists for West Michigan came via Michael Tratar, who had two and Corey Siwula, Kyle Keeder, and Shawn Adam, who contributed one each. Wisconsin's Chris Johansen stopped 24 shots out of the 29 that he faced.
West Division Finals (North Iowa wins best of three series, 2-1)
Game 3: Granite City 2 @ North Iowa 4
The Granite City Lumberjacks tried to dig themselves out of a three-goal hole, but the North Iowa Bulls held on for a 4-2 victory. North Iowa made the score 4-1 on a goal by Ryan Durant at 19:07 in the second period, and Granite City got as close as 4-2 when Travis Kothenbeutel scored 18:17 into the third period. With the win, the Bulls were crowned West Division playoff champions and advance to the NA3HL Silver Cup Tournament as the #2 seed. Granite City advances as well as the wildcard and #6 seed, as they had the best regular season record of the teams that lost in the division finals. North Iowa got the win with help from a great game by Joe Burgmeier, who had one goal and two assists. Burgmeier scored 29 seconds into the first period to make the score 1-0 North Iowa. Johnny Panvica provided the assist. North Iowa additionally got points from Brett Gravelle, who also had one goal and one assist. Robert Click also scored for North Iowa. In addition, North Iowa received assists from Tyler Johnson and Jack Stang, who each chipped in one. Granite City also got points from Tanner Skaja, who also grabbed one goal and one assist to lead the team in points. More assists for Granite City came via Luke Richardson, Will Mix, and David Kenney, who contributed one each. Chris Amsden made 25 saves for North Iowa on 27 shots.