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3HL's final four is set after thrilling Sunday

March 26, 2012

St. Louis goalie Mitch Fernsler made 24 saves as the Jr. Blues shutout the Peoria Mustangs, 4-0 to claim the Central playoff title.

After Flint clinched the first spot in the 3HL’s final four on Saturday, the stage was set on Sunday for the final three teams to make their way into the mix.  Despite the fact the lower seeded teams had the early edge in the Divisional Finals round, it would be all three top seeds in each division who would come out on top on Sunday, earning their way to Chicago for the 3HL Championship Tournament, which will feature all four division winners  from the regular season. Here is a look at Sunday’s action:

North Division
Queen City 4 @ Toledo 6 (Toledo wins series, 2-1)
The Steam gave the Cherokee everything they could handle and then some.  It was a very even 1st period in Game 3.  Queen City scored twice with goals from Lucas McCammant and Zach Newman.  Toledo answered back with goals from offensive stars Ryan Kelly and Joe Skrzynski.  Queen City’s best period of the game came in the 2nd period when Nick Okada scored a power play goal and Ryan Faucheux scored a shorthanded goal to give the Steam a 4-2 lead after two periods.  However, the upset was not to be thanks in large part to Mike Baker, who took over the game as he scored three, 3rd period goals along with a goal from Christos Papaioannou to give Toledo a 6-4 win thanks to the four goals in the 3rd period. Boxscore

Central Division
Peoria 0 @ St. Louis 4 (St. Louis wins series, 2-1)
St. Louis goalie Mitch Fernsler saved his best game of the series for last as he stopped all 24 Mustangs shots to help St. Louis advance to the 3HL Championship Tournament.  St. Louis took a 1-0 lead in the 1st period on a goal from Johnny Mueller, who ended up having two goals and an assist in the game.  Trace Jablin scored in the 2nd period to give the Jr. Blues a 2-0 lead.  Patrick Gregory and Mueller added 3rd period goals to put the game out of reach.  St. Louis outshot the Mustangs 36-24 for the game.  Mustangs goalie Michael Parda, who face a barrage of shots in the series, made 32 saves in the loss for Peoria.  Boxscore

West Division
North Iowa 2 @ Granite City 3 (Granite City wins series, 2-1)
Two goals from Peter Lindblad in the opening eight minutes would be the difference as the Granite City Lumberjacks edged the North Iowa Bulls 3-2 to claim the West Division playoff crown.  Lindblad scored :40 seconds into the game and again eight minutes later to give the Jacks an early 2-0 lead.  Bobby Chapman scored late in the 1st period to bring the Bulls within one.  TJ Christianson added the only goal of the 2nd period to increase the Granite City lead to 3-1 after two periods.  Steve Heller scored for North Iowa in the 3rd period with just over six minutes remaining in the game, but with goalie Matt Martels pulled in the final minute for the extra attacker, North Iowa could not get the equalizer.  Granite City’s Matt Grove made 26 saves in the win, while Bartels made 27 saves in the loss. Boxscore

 
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