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.
Head Coach: Scott Syring
Assistant Coaches: Chris Tarsha, Wayne Collins
2011-12 Record: 31-15-2, 64 pts. – 1st in North Division
Playoffs: Lost in the NA3HL Silver Cup Championship Round Robin Tournament
2012-13 Division: East (2011-12 North)
Opening Night: Saturday, September 22nd vs. Battle Creek – 8:30 pm at Toledo Ice (First game on September 15th at Queen City.)
After capturing the North Division Regular Season and Playoff Champion titles last season, the Toledo Cherokee went on to compete in the 2012 NA3HL Silver Cup Championship, where they met the other #1 seeds of each division to compete for the title and hardware. The fight was hard, leaving the Cherokee with zero wins in the round robin style tournament, but overall the season ended with great accomplishments.
Last year, the Cherokee had an impressive home record of 18-4-2 with one of the best home penalty kill records in the league. Their defense made a huge impact on their home game wins, and Toledo will be looking to their returning defensemen again this year to be just as strong behind the blue line.
Over the summer, the team turned over substantially, with six players that have moved on to ACHA hockey programs around the country and some still at training camps. Returning this year will be five skillful players that Head Coach Scott Syring notes as key players in developing the new, young team.
On offense will be second year veterans Andrew Benyo and Brandon Thelen. Benyo is returning to the Cherokee after trying out with Springfield Jr. Blues in NAHL, who will be keeping a close eye on him throughout the season. Last season, he played on the same line as the leading scorers Joe Skrzynski and James Steele and Syring says he anticipates him to have a great presence on the power play and penalty kills this season. Last year, the Cherokee let in only 15 goals while defending power play at home.
The experienced defensemen helping anchor the blue line this year will be Jake Manders, Parker Hack and Donnie Nagle. Nagle, the most physical defensemen on the roster, will define the presence in the back early on with the young team. In the net this year will be three new goaltenders, all who will be competing early on for the Cherokees starting position.
Joining the veterans will almost 20 new players, 11 whom are 1995 birth years, making Toledo one of the youngest rosters in the league this year. During this upcoming season, only one player will age out of the junior program, giving Coach Syring the advantage of developing a strong team for the upcoming seasons.
Of the new players, a majority of them come from the Toledo, Ohio vicinity. “A big thing we are excited about this year is our home grown players,” Syring said.
“This is the first year we have seen the development from our youth organization help feed our junior program. We have had the program in place for almost 10 years now and we are finally seeing the players fall out of the back of the pipe and move into junior hockey. In all, we will have 15 new local players on the rosters. It’s tremendous.”
Reflecting on the upcoming season, Syring expects some challenges early on while the younger players learn to adjust to the style of junior hockey, but he anticipates that they will become a fast and exciting team as the season progresses.
This season, Toledo will be joining the North Division with all new divisional opponents with the exception of the Michigan Mountain Cats. Syring knows the new Division will be very tough, but is optimistic on where his team will go. “Early on we may have our fair share of split games but as the season progresses I know the team will mature and we will start winning games at this level. Our younger players will learn and adapt quickly as they watch and play against the veteran players in our league,” Syring said.
The Toldeo Cherokee will kick off their season September 15th in a weekend series on the road against their North Division opponent, the Queen City Steam.