This week in the NA3HL features a look at the final regular season weekend as the final few spots are determined for the NA3HL Silver Cup playoffs which begin in one week. With just a few games to go, things are still yet undetermined in the West and the Central Divisions. Here is a look at where team’s stand as they final games of the 2012-13 regular season are played:
Alexandria Blizzard: The Blizzard are locked into the #3 seed in the West and will face the Granite City Lumberjacks in the West Division Semi-Finals. The Blizzard lost to the Lumberjacks on Friday and will face the Flying Aces on Saturday as their regular season comes to a close. Ian Ecklund is making his case for MVP with 70 points this season.
Battle Creek Revolution: It has been quite the second half surge for the Revolution who have really turned things around in the second half. They will need to win at least one more game to have a chance at a playoff spot, but beating Quad City on Friday gave them a great chance to do so. In order to make the playoffs, they will have to take at least one of two games in Peoria against the Mustangs.
Breezy Point North Stars: The North Stars are playing the role of spoiler in their final game of the year. After a 5-2 loss at North Iowa on Friday, the North Stars will play their final game at Minnesota on Sunday, with the Flying Aces looking to secure the 4th and final playoff spot in the West. This season has been a learning experience for coach Bryan Henrichs and crew who are sure to be hard at work in the off-season.
Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks: The Lumberjacks, who have clinched the East Division regular season title, are right where they want to be heading into the NA3HL playoffs, where they will face Toledo. This weekend is a chance to possibility rest a few players in a road series against the Metro Jets, who narrowly missed the playoffs. Cleveland’s Scott Cuthrell is tied for the league scoring lead with 82 points.
Flint Jr. Generals: The Jr. Generals, who finished with 58 points and tied with Three Rivers in the standings, lost out on the tie-breaker with the Vengeance with one less win and will have the #3 seed in the East heading into the East Semi-Finals next weekend. Flint’s regular season concluded this past Tuesday with a 4-2 win over the Metro Jets.
Granite City Lumberjacks: The defending NA3HL Champion Granite City Lumberjacks will finish as the #2 seed in the West Division and face Alexandria in the West Semi-Finals. Granite City beat Alexandria 4-2 on Friday and will face 2012-13 NA3HL regular season Champion St. Louis this weekend in their final tune-up of the regular season.
Metro Jets: The Jets, who are playing some of their best hockey of the season as of late, will narrowly miss out on the playoffs. Their season comes to a close this weekend with a home series against East Division Champion Cleveland. Matt Stirling, who has 71 points entering the final weekend, will finish as the team’s leading scorer.
Michigan Mountain Cats: The Mountain Cats will also miss out on the playoffs this season. They finish the regular season in a home-and-home series with Toledo, whom they lost to on Friday, 5-4 in overtime. Guy Soulliere, who has 44 points, will finish as the team’s leading scorer and he also has six game-winning goals this season.
Minnesota Flying Aces: It is real simple for the Flying Aces… they need to win both their games this weekend at home against Alexandria and Breezy Point, and then they need Twin City to lose their last remaining game against North Iowa in order for them to make the playoffs as they sit three points behind the Steel with two games to play.
North Iowa Bulls: The Bulls, who are the 2012-13 West Division regular season Champions, will be the #1 seed in the West Division Semi-Finals. However, who they face may depend on their outcome on Saturday night against the Twin City Steel. If the Steel win, the Bulls will face Twin City. However, if the Bulls win and Minnesota picks up two wins this weekend, the Bulls will face the Flying Aces.
Peoria Mustangs: The Mustangs have secured the #2 seed in the Central and will host #3 Queen City in the Central Division Semi-Finals next weekend. However, this weekend, they play in some meaningful games as they host the Battle Creek Revolution for a pair of games. Battle Creek needs at least one win, if not two to secure the final playoff spot in the Central, so Peoria will be getting their ‘A’game.
Quad City Jr. Flames: Quad City lost to Battle Creek, 3-0 on Friday, but still have the benefit of being one point ahead of the Revolution in the standings with two games to go. Quad City will play their final two games of the regular season at home on Saturday and Sunday. Two wins will guarantee the fourth and final playoff spot in the Central and a date with St. Louis in the Semi-Finals.
Queen City Steam: The Steam are guaranteed the #3 seed in the Central Division and will face Peoria in the Division Semi-Finals. However, they will get Quad City’s best effort this weekend in a pair of road games at the Jr. Flames. The Steam have gotten good play recently from goaltender Alec Rounds, who is going to have to be a positive factor in the playoffs.
St. Louis Jr. Blues: With the top spot in the Central locked up and the overall NA3HL regular season title secured, the Jr. Blues have very little to play for but pride in their final two games against Granite City this weekend. What they do not know yet is who they will face in the Semi-Finals, Quad City or Battle Creek. Goalies Mikael Broliden and Clint Steinmeyer will likely finish 1-2 in the NA3HL goaltending stats.
Three Rivers Vengeance: The Vengeance by virtue of more wins this season over Flint, have locked up the #2 seed in the East and will face the Jr. Generals in the East Semi-Finals this weekend. With the regular season over, leading scorer Nico Vecchio has to sit back and watch to see if he will finish tied for the NA3HL scoring lead with 82 points.
Toledo Cherokee: The Cherokee have locked in the #4 seed in the East and will face Cleveland in the opening round East Division Semi-Finals. This weekend, the Cherokee finish the regular season with a home-and-home series against the Michigan Mountain Cats. Toledo has just a 1-4-0 record against the Jr. Lumberjacks this season and will have to figure out a way to shut down the high powered Cleveland offense.
Twin City Steel: It is a tall, but clear task for the Steel this weekend. A win against North Iowa on Saturday gets them in the playoffs, where they would face the Bulls in the Semi-Finals. A loss, and the Steel have to hope that Minnesota drops one of their two remaining games in order to get into the playoffs. Forward Tom Bartel leads the team with 48 points in 46 games played.