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3View: Granite City Lumberjacks

August 26, 2018
The 3View series will feature an in-depth look into all NA3HL teams in preparation for the 2018-19 season, with two teams being highlighted daily, leading all the way up until the start of the regular season. 3View goes in-depth into each NA3HL team and will include interviews with all the head coaches in the NA3HL, as they provide fans with their expectations and outlook for the 2018-19 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 2017-18 season and how each team fared and what they accomplished.  Best of all, 3View will provide the fans of the NA3HL with an inside look at their favorite team and what to expect.
 
Granite City Lumberjacks
2017-18 Record: 33-14-0, 66 pts. (1st in the West Division)
2018 Playoffs: Lost to the Metro Jets in the Fraser Cup Semi-Finals
Head Coach: Brad Willner
2018-19 Division: West
 
The Granite City Lumberjacks, located in Sauk Rapids, Minnesota, played their first season in the NA3HL back in 2011-2012. Coached by Brad Willner, the Lumberjacks have won three championships in the last seven seasons. This remarkable consistency over the past few years makes the Granite City one of the pre-season favorites to win this year’s Fraser Cup.
 
Ever since the Lumberjacks made the jump to NA3HL, they have won the West Division Semi-Finals. They will look to make it an 8th straight year as we inch closer to the start of the 2018-2019 season. 
 
Although the Lumberjacks fell short of their ultimate goal in the previous season, Head Coach Brad Willner was still proud of his team, and all their achievements competing in a very tough West Division. 
 
“We were happy with our overall play last season in a very strong West Division,” Willner said. “Our team grew throughout the season and had a great run all the way into the Fraser Cup Semi-Finals.”
 
The Lumberjacks lost to the eventual champs, the Metro Jets in the Fraser Cup Semi-Finals.
 
After losing some of their top scorers from a season ago, if the Lumberjacks are going to take back their crown, Coach Willner knows the recruiting he did during the offseason will have to go a long way. 
 
“We lost a lot of scoring and will need some veterans and new recruits to step up and fill those roles,” Willner said. “We need to have depth in our division to compete each night, but we feel we have the pieces in place to make another run at the Fraser Cup.”
 
The Lumberjacks had another great season in the commitment department as they were one of the NA3HL leaders with six NCAA commitments this past season
 
Head Coach Brad Willner is entering his 9th year with the Granite City Lumberjacks hockey program. One of the aspects of coaching that Willner takes great pride in is getting his players to the next level. The Lumberjacks have had huge success moving their players on to the NAHL and NCAA. 
 
“We are consistently calling college coaches to let them know who is playing well. We also work with many NAHL teams and have players move up to practice with the Tier 2 teams,” Willner said. “This helps get players on the radar for the following season, as well as get them a feel for what they need to improve upon to make the jump to higher levels of junior hockey.”
 
With the development of the players being vital, league wide events such as the Showcase, Top Prospects, and Fraser Cup are the best way for these players to showcase their talent. 
 
“Our events in the NA3HL are second to none,” Willner said. “They provide great exposure for our players to higher levels of junior hockey, as well as NCAA college.”
 
As the Lumberjacks prepare for another long and promising season, Coach WIllner emphasized the importance of the support from their community and fan base.
 
“We have a great fan base that loves to travel and follow us on the road,” Willner said. “They host different events throughout the season and really support our players.
 
Every year the lumberjacks have their eyes on the prize, and this year will be no different. As the season approaches, the club will look to yet again put a strangle on the very competitive West Division.
 
Next up in the 3View series: Great Falls Americans
 
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