Jr. Blues win USHL's Western Shootout in San Jose
Head Coach J.P. Beilsten and his staff began looking at the roster for the 2012-13 Jr. Blues, he realized that the team was young. In fact, so young that he had a complete midget aged roster. 19 of the 25 players rostered had midget eligibility and only a handful in their final year. So when the opportunity to showcase those players to USHL scouts, the answer was clear, he was taking the team to San Jose, CA.
After a quick tune-up match against a local team, the Jr. Blues hit the road over the Labor Day holiday weekend. They opened tournament play against the Utah Regulators. Despite outshooting them 54-22, the Jr. Blues only won 3-2. Tyler Opilka scored the game winner while his brother, a member of the Amatuer Blues Midget Major AAA, Luke picked up the win.
Up next on day two was the Anaheim Jr. Ducks. Again, the Jr. Blues controlled much of the game outshooting Anaheim 42-30. After taking a 1-0 lead, the Jr. Blues gave up a goal with :20 seconds remaining to tie the game. Clint Steinmeyer backstopped the Jr. Blues and Brycon Johnson scored the lone St. Louis goal with Trace Jablin and Cody Gidorzi assisting.
Later that day, they found themselves facing a physical Alaska Aces. With Opilka back in net, the Jr. Blues shut-out the defending champions 3-0, outshooting them 39-17. Trace Jablin notched a goal and assist in the win. Tommy Heinzman also scored and Tyler Opilka scored his second of the tournament.
The win gave the Jr. Blues the division win and a match-up with the 4th seed from the other division. The Jr. Blues squared off with the Compete Rams from Washington. Despite giving up the first goal, the Jr. Blues responded with 5 unanswered goals outshooting the Rams 53-20. Steinmeyer got the win and Christian Argyros notched a goal and 2 assists in the win. Cody Fedak scored twice and Justin Reher also scored once and had 2 assists.
That win put the Jr. Blue into the Semifinals of the tournament against the Texas Alliance Bulldogs. Luke Opilka shut-out the Bulldogs, stopping all10 shots he faced, to win 5-0. Tommy Heinzman scored twice as did Tyler Opilka while Trey Dodd scored once and added an assist.
In the Finals, St. Louis found themselves up against the team that gave them their only blemish of the tournament, the Anaheim Jr. Ducks. This time, the Jr. Blues stayed focused and won 4-0 on two goals by Cody Gidorzi and a goal and an assist by Christian Argyros.
Beilsten said, "It was a great opportunity for our kids to be seen by every USHL team scout in the west." When asked what the difference was he continued, "We were just physically stronger than the other teams. That is a big credit to Rik Wilson at Powerplay Gym. He's been working the team out for the last month, and you can see them getting stronger."
The Jr. Blues open their season this weekend against rival Peoria at Affton. Game time is 7:00 p.m. Saturday, September 8th and 12:45 Sunday the 9th.