This week in the NA3HL: A preview of the first Showcase
As the North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL) prepares for their first of two Showcases beginning this week at the Schwan Super Rink in Blaine, Minnesota, we take a look at how each NA3HL team is doing up to this point and also take a look at their schedules while in Blaine. The Showcase will be played in cooperation with all of the teams from the NAPHL and play begins on Friday, November 30th. The Showcase is unique in the fact that the teams play games against opponents outside of their divisions.
Remember, if you can’t make it to the Showcase in person, all games can be viewed live on FAST Hockey.
Here is a look at each NA3HL team competing in the Showcase:
Alexandria Blizzard: Winners of five of their last six games, the Blizzard enter the Showcase as one of the hottest teams in the league. Forward Ian Ecklund was named the league’s #3 star this past week for his efforts. The Blizzard have a full slate of games in Blaine as they play four games in four days against the Metro Jets, St. Louis Jr. Blues, Three Rivers Vengeance and Peoria Mustangs.
Battle Creek Revolution: Battle Creek comes into the Showcase well rested after having last weekend and the Thanksgiving holiday off. The Revs showed well in their last series, which was a couple of close losses against Central Division-leading St. Louis. The Revs look for their first win of the season as they play four games in four days against Granite City, Toledo, Minnesota and Twin City.
Breezy Point North Stars: Breezy Point also enters the Showcase well rested after having last weekend off. The North Stars will look to snap their current five game losing streak in Blaine and should have some good crowd support as they face the likes of the Three Rivers Vengeance, Peoria Mustangs, Toledo Cherokee and Queen City Steam.
Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks: The Lumberjacks will enter the Showcase well-rested with almost two weeks between games. Their last series back on Nov, 16-17 was a split with Michigan as they lost just their third game of the season. The Lumberjacks have three scorers in the Top 10 in the NA3HL. Cleveland has just three games in Blaine as they begin play on Saturday and will face Twin City, Quad City and Granite City.
Flint Jr. Generals: The Jr. Generals have lost three of their last four games including their last game, which came back on Nov. 21st, a 3-1 loss to Metro. Flint’s Jacob Howie is in the Top 10 scoring in the league with 26 points. The Jr. Generals play four games in four days in Blaine against the likes of Twin City, Queen City, St. Louis and Quad City.
Granite City Lumberjacks: The West Division-leading Lumberjacks, who will be heavily supported by their fans in Blaine, have had to go to a shootout or overtime in three of their last six games, which included their last game, a 4-3 overtime loss to Minnesota on Saturday. The Lumberjacks will play three games in Blaine against Battle Creek, Michigan and Cleveland.
Metro Jets: The Jets have won their last four, thanks in large part to newly acquired goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic, who at just 16-years-old was named the league’s #1 star this past week. However, the Jets will have their hands full in Blaine with one of the tougher schedules of the event as they play four games in four days against Alexandria, North Iowa, Peoria and St. Louis.
Michigan Mountain Cats: The Mountain Cats lost their lone game of last week, a 6-2 defeat at the hands of the Metro Jets. However, Michigan has won two of their last four games. The Mountain Cats will also be put to the test in Blaine, with four tough games in four days against the likes of Queen City, Minnesota, Granite City and North Iowa.
Minnesota Flying Aces: The Flying Aces also will likely get some good fan support in Blaine and are riding high off of arguably their biggest win of the season, which came in their last game, which was a 4-3 overtime win against division-leading Granite City. The Flying Aces will play four games in four days in Blaine and will face Quad City, Michigan, Battle Creek and Three Rivers.
North Iowa Bulls: The Bulls are rocketing up the standings and are 7-0-1 in their last eight games. This past week, the Bulls posted a 5-2 win over Minnesota in their lone game of the week. The Bulls are tied with St. Louis with the fewest regulation losses in the NA3HL with two. The Bulls will play four games while in Blaine against the likes of Peoria, Metro, Queen City and Michigan.
Peoria Mustangs: The Mustangs enter the NA3HL Showcase fresh off a weekend home split against the Queen City Steam. Their loss on Sunday snapped a three-game winning streak. The Mustangs will try and pick up some valuable points in the standings as they play four games in four days in Blaine against North Iowa, Breezy Point, Metro and Alexandria.
Quad City Jr. Flames: The Jr. Flames enter the Showcase in Blaine having had last weekend off. It came at a good time as the Flames try and regroup for the Showcase where they will look for their first win since September 30th. However, two of Quad City’s last four losses have been in either overtime or a shootout. Quad City will face Minnesota, Three Rivers, Cleveland and Flint at the Showcase.
Queen City Steam: The Steam sit comfortably in 3rd place in the Central Division and gained ground in the standings with a split against 2nd place Peoria last weekend. For his offensive efforts, forward Henry Smith with named the league’s #2 star this past week. Queen City will play four games in four days in Blaine against Michigan, Flint, North Iowa and Breezy Point.
St. Louis Jr. Blues: The team with the best record (20-2-0) in the NA3HL will come into the Showcase having won their last 12 games. After a weekend off after a sweep of Battle Creek on Nov. 17-18, the Jr. Blues will play four games in four days at the Showcase and will face a tough schedule against the likes of Toledo, Alexandria, Flint and Metro.
Three Rivers Vengeance: The Vengeance had last weekend off and are sitting in a tie for 4th place in the East Division with a 9-8-0 record. Forward Nico Vecchio is in the top 10 in NA3HL scoring with 25 points and the Vengeance will play four games in four days against Breezy Point, Quad City, Alexandria and Minnesota.
Toledo Cherokee: The Cherokee and new head coach Kenny Miller were off last weekend, but the Cherokee enter Blaine having won two of their last four games. Defenseman Donnie Nagle has been one of the top defensemen in the NA3HL so far this season. Toledo is playing three games while at the Showcase against St. Louis on Friday, Battle Creek on Saturday and Breezy Point on Sunday.
Twin City Steel: The Steel are hopeful that the short trip across town to play in Blaine will be an advantage for them as they try to continue the climb up the West Division Standings. This past week, the Steel lost their lone game, which was a close 5-3 loss to Alexandria back on Friday. The Steel will have three games at the Showcase and will face Flint on Friday, Cleveland on Saturday and Battle Creek on Monday.