3View: St. Louis Jr. Blues
The 3View series will feature an in-depth look into all NA3HL teams in preparation for the 2020-21 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 2020-21 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 2019-20 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.
St. Louis Jr. Blues
2019-20 Record: 29-17-1, 59pts (2nd in Central Division)
2020 Playoffs: Qualified
Head Coach: Chris Flaugher
2020-21 Division: Central
An NA3HL staple since the league’s inception, the St. Louis Jr. Blues reside among the league’s elite on an almost annual basis — in 10 NA3HL seasons, they boast seven playoff division titles and nine postseason qualifications — and have set an unassailable standard of excellence on and off the ice.
Head Coach Chris Flaugher has guided the Jr. Blues from behind the bench since 2013-14, and knows it takes full team buy-in from the get-go to carry on that tradition of success.
“I feel (team success) will start at practice. We need to be committed to working hard and compete during the week, pushing each other to get better. The harder we work during the week will hopefully transcribe into the results we want on the scoreboard. As we get into the games, we need to be committed to playing a team-first game, compete, and be a disciplined team,” he said.
Despite the team’s decade of relative dominance, they still have yet to take home the league title since 2009-10. Two losses in the championship game and a defeat in the semi-final have seen St. Louis get close, but just shy of the ultimate victory.
Driving the team towards that victory will fall on the team’s player leadership. Whether it’s leading by example, or in the locker room, Flaugher is counting on some established Junior players to guide his team this year.
Some of what was a vaunted blue line corps will be back in St. Louis for the 2020-21 season, and the group that helped the Jr. Blues allow just 123 goals last year — good for 9th-least in the league — will have a key role in this year’s squad.
“We will be leaning on our returning players to lead and show the new players what it takes to play in the 3HL.
“I feel we are strong in the net and have depth. We bring back some good veteran defenseman, along with some newcomers that have been nice additions so far. Up front we return some key veterans that will show the newcomers the way to play junior hockey in our league,” he said.
St. Louis’ high-end pedigree not only manifests on the ice, but also helps breed top players ready to impact the next level.
Seamus Campbell highlighted a stellar class of college commitments for Jr. Blues last year, as the St. Louis native sealed his future with Quinnipiac University as one of a whopping nine players to commit right from the Jr. Blues. Five more alumni in the NAHL also earned commitments, including Blake Dangos, a key member of the 2018-19 Jr. Blues, deciding on another NCAA Division 1 competitor in St. Lawrence.
“Player advancement is the most important part of our program’s philosophy. We are here to provide our players with an opportunity to earn advancements. To see the players come through and earn commitments to top level ACHA and NCAA programs has been rewarding. In St. Louis we do everything we can to provide our players with an environment to become better hockey players,” he said.
Activism in the community is also a pillar of the St. Louis organization, and Flaugher says his team will be out making positive waves once more this season.
“We have already started working with the youth teams in the Affton Americans Hockey Club. Our goalies have been out teaching the 12 and 10 Under goalies in the program,” he said.
In addition, the Jr. Blues have planned a special fundraiser game for the 2020-21 season.
“We are also planning a benefit game for the family of fallen St. Louis Metropolitan Police Officer Tamarris Bohannon, who died in the line of duty. We will wear special edition jerseys that will be auctioned off with all the money raised going to the Bohannon family,” added Flaugher.
It’s been a remarkable decade for the Jr. Blues in the NA3HL. And as they embark the next 10 years, they will be hoping their tradition of success finally yields another championship in 2020-21.
Next Up: Texas Brahmas