48 in 24 Series: St. Louis Jr. Blues
August 29, 2016
The 48 in 24 series will feature an in-depth look into all 48 teams in the NA3HL for the 2016-17 season, with new teams being highlighted daily, leading all the way up until the start of the regular season. 48 in 24 goes in-depth into each NA3HL team and will include interviews with all 48 head coaches in the NA3HL, as they provide fans with their expectations and outlook for the 2016-17 season, including taking a look at their potential roster and their strengths as a team for the upcoming season. It will also take a look back on the 2015-16 season and how each team fared and what they accomplished. Best of all, 48 in 24 will provide the fans of the NA3HL with an inside look at their favorite team and what to expect.
St. Louis Jr. Blues
2015-16 Record: 35-8-4, 74 pts. (1st in the Midwest Division)
2016 Playoffs: Won the Midwest Division, lost in the NA3HL Silver Cup Round-Robin
Head Coach: Chris Flaugher
2016-17 Division: Midwest
The St. Louis Jr. Blues have been with the NA3HL since the league was rebranded in 2011. The Jr. Blues started in the 2006-07 season with the CSHL before the NA3HL formed and rebranded under the NAHL umbrella. In the 2015-16 season the Jr. Blues saw a huge success, making it all the way to the Silver Cup Championship.
Their coach Chris Flaugher has been with the team for many seasons. He will be entering his 7th season with the team as General Manager, and his 4th season as the head coach. Prior to coaching, Flaugher actually played for the Jr. Blues before going on to play for St. Mary’s University in Minnesota. His playing career has helped shape the way he’s been leading the Jr. Blues.
“Through my years of youth, junior and college hockey, I was fortunate enough to have played for some of the best coaches that taught me a lot about hockey and life,” Flaugher said. “All my coaches went above and beyond the call of coaches and helped me in many ways. I feel that it was my obligation to give back to the sport like they unselfishly did.”
Flaugher has seen the team through their high points and low points and sees last seasons finish as an indicator for a bright future for the team and for their player advancement.
“I feel last season was a huge rebound and a very successful season,” Flaugher said. “After coming off a last place finish in 2015, we were able to win our division and the divisional playoff championship in 2016. The greatest part of the season was watching key players earn NAHL call ups and contribute to their new teams at the Tier II level. With key players advancing, we saw our next wave of players step up to the plate and carry to the team to a successful season and put themselves on the radar of many NAHL teams.”
The Blues had a number of college commitments this summer both with active and alumni players. Defensemen, Chris Brown and Brian Schumacher, both committed to Missouri State, a DI school in the Western Collegiate Hockey League. Forward, Alex Klaesner, committed to Lindenwood University, a DI school in the Central States Collegiate Hockey League. Alumni player, Trey Dodd, committed to Brown University, a DI school in the ECACHL, and Kyle Meeh, committed to St. Mary’s University, a DIII school in MIAC. Flaugher has plenty of experience in and advice on getting guys moved up through the system.
“We look at this twofold,” Flaugher said. “One, on and off the ice, we put our players in an environment to succeed and develop with our practice schedule and off ice training. If they players do the work and put in the time, the players will put them in a position to compete for spots at the next level. Two, we are always in contact with the NAHL and college coaches. We give updated reports on our players are always in a position to allow our players the opportunity to move up when there is a need for a NAHL call up. We will always put the player's best interest first and we feel that coaches around the NAHL know that if/ when they need a player, we don't hesitate to advance our players.”
Since the Jr. Blues have been around for so long in such a huge hockey town, they’ve developed a great relationship with their community. They try to give back as much as they can each year by contributing to charities, foundations, and youth hockey programs.
“This year we will be contributing to three charities with Special Edition game worn jersey auctions, The BackStoppers, [a first responders charity], Brendan's Buddies, [a foundation to help with children's medical expenses], and the Frozen Cup [benefitting Autism awareness],” Flaugher said. “In addition, we will have our players assisting the youth players in the Affton American's Hockey Program, Little Blues Learn to Play, and other local foundations in the area. We really want our players to know the importance of giving back to the community and making a positive impact on others lives.”
Next in the 48 in 24 series: Syracuse Stampede