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.
Minnesota Flying Aces
Head Coach: Craig Larson
Assistant Coach: Josh Klosowski, John Stockler, Reed Larson
2011-12 Record: 21-24-3, 45 pts. – 4th in West Division
Playoffs: Lost in the Division Semi-Finals to Granite City, 2-0
2012-13 Division: West (2011-12 West)
Opening Night: Saturday, September 29th vs. Alexandria – 7:05 pm at Exchange Arena (First game - September 15th at Granite City)
With their first season in the NA3HL in the books, the Flying Aces look to reload. Returning with only six veterans from last years team, the primary focus for Head Coach Craig Larson and his staff, was to recruit a young, fast and skilled group.
Of last years roster, the Flying Aces advanced two defenseman to the NAHL, Paul Sorensen to the Michigan Warriors and Dylan Nelson to the Brookings Blizzard, as well as, forward Stephen Langford to Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League. Sorensen, who made a huge impact on his team and the league last year, averaged one point per game and was the number one defensemen in the NA3HL. The Aces also had to replace NCAA DIII college bound players, defensemen Mike Kucil (Northland College) and forwards Kyle Bonstrom (St. Marys), Liam Johnston (Gustavus) and Parker Tomczyk to Williston State College in the NJCAA.
Coach Larson is optimistic about his recruiting class this year. Their speed and quick skills, was the main reason the Aces staff selected this group. "I feel with this group of young and driven players, we'll be right in the mix by October,” Larson said. The Aces also had to fill spots between the pipes. With three new faces in goal the Aces will look to returner Yasu Takahashi to guide newcomers Chris Amsden, Rocco Yapello and Michael Stumpf. On the blue line, the Aces will see returning defenders Brad Hauser and Zach Randall, who will log a lot of ice time early on this upcoming season.
"I like our speed up front and our size in the back,”Larson said. "With the tough division that we play in, I think we have built a roster that reflects the other rosters in the West,” continued Larson. The Flying Aces will be returning to the ice with veteran forwards Blake Williams, Tomo Minase and Owen Ahlstrom. The five, plus goaltender Takahashi, will help the coaching staff bring together the team on the ice.
Larson and his coaching staff, Josh Klosowski, John Stockler and Reed Larson anticipate the challenge of their new opponents, the Alexandria Blizzard and the Breezy Point North Stars. Little Falls, Minnesota, home of the Flying Aces, lies right in between the two teams, Breezy Point to the north east and Alexandria to the south west. The additions of the new teams in such close proximity are bound to create feisty rivalries this fall. Coach Larson and his team will take home ice on Saturday September 29th against the Alexandria Blizzard.