17 Teams in 17 Days: Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks
The ‘17 in 17’ series features an in-depth look into all 17 NA3HL teams, with a new team being highlighted daily, leading all the way up until the start of the regular season on Saturday, September 8th. ‘17 in 17’ will go in-depth into each 3HL team and will include interview with all 17 3HL head coaches as they prognosticate and break down their outlook for the upcoming season.
Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks
Head Coach: Bob Jacobson
Assistant Coaches: Jason Dickey, Justin Phenney
2011-12 Record: 32-12-4, 68 pts. – 2nd in East Division
Playoffs: Lost to Flint in Division Finals, 2-0
2012-13 Division: East (2011-12 East)
Opening Night: Saturday, September 8th vs. Flint – 8:45 pm at Cleveland Heights CC
After another successful season in the NA3HL, Head Coach Bob Jacobson is putting his trust in six returning veterans to lead the way for the young rookie team heading into Cleveland Heights Community Center this fall. Over the summer, the team changed facilities from Hoover Arena in Strongsville, Ohio to the two-sheet community center in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.
Cleveland put together another great season on the ice. The team had the most goals (233), most assists (375) and most points (608) in the league along with the best overall power play percentage. They also had the longest winning streak, winning 19 games in a row in the first half of the season. The roster also featured the NA3HL Rookie of the Year, Cameron Dimmit, and the NA3HL Defensemen of the Year, Steve Lecey. Dimmit lead the league in scoring, made the 2011-12 All 1st NA3HL Team, as did Lecey, and helped Team East to the Championship title at the NA3HL Top Prospects Tournament. With the loss of top best forward and defenseman, Cleveland also lost some of its best goaltending talent as well. Alexander Larson, #2 overall in the league last season, will be joining Steve Lecey at Nichols College (NCAA DIII) this fall.
Of the other Lumberjacks graduates moving on, Jon Bayer and Brad Beran will both be moving on to play at the ACHA Division I level, and forward David Fassbender will be suiting up for Wichita Falls in the NAHL. Those continuing the legacy this year are four forwards, Fred West, Andrew Mitch, Lou Sawchik and Bo Zinner and defensemen Pat Smith and Zack Seither. Jacobson is confident that these six will help the rookies develop to the caliber of the team last season. “The veterans have already set a good tone about the work ethic of the team and what they expect of their teammates."
Although the team coming in is young, two of the new Cleveland players will be brining in previous junior hockey experience. The rest will be new to the junior level of play, but Jacobson believes they will catch on quickly. Another unique duo joining the team are two players from North Carolina. Both friends reached out to the team to inquire about relocating to Ohio while completing high school and playing juniors at the same time. Their determination is something that Jacobson looks for when building his roster. Overall, Jacobson is confident he has a good core of players coming in.
On Friday, August 31st, the Lumberjacks will be setting off to Johnstown, PA to play an exhibition game against the new NAHL club, the Johnstown Tomahawks. The match-up will give the NA3HL team a look into the next level of play. “I wanted to set up a game like this to see if our players can prove that they are willing to compete and work hard, no matter what the score is in the end. If our team can learn that it’s not about the score, but how hard you work, they will become very successful this year,” Jacobson said.
Cleveland will start their regular season off at home, against the Flint Jr. Generals on September 8th. The last time these two teams met, Flint took the East Division Finals series to move on to NA3HL Silver Cup Championship.