22 in 22 Series: Minnesota Flying Aces
August 28, 2013
The 22 in 22 series features an in-depth look into all 22 teams in the NA3HL for the 2013-14 season, with a new team being highlighted daily, leading all the way up until the start of the regular season on Saturday, September 7th as four NA3HL teams take to the ice on Opening Night.
22 in 22 will go in-depth into each NA3HL team and will include interviews with all 22 head coaches in the NA3HL, as they provide fans with their expectations and outlook for the 2013-14 season, including taking a look at their roster and their strengths as a team for the upcoming season.
It will also take a look back on the 2012-13 season and how each team fared and what they accomplished. Best of all, 22 in 22 is done to provide the fans of the NA3HL with an inside look at their favorite team and what to expect.
Minnesota Flying Aces
Head Coach: Andy Maher
2012-13 Record: 20-26-1-1, 42 Points (4th, West Division)
2012-13 Leading Scorer: Jared Sprink (17 G, 20 A, 37 P, -10)
Playoffs: Eliminated in West Division Semi-Finals 3-0 by North Iowa
2013-14 Division: West
First Regular Season Game: Sat, September 14th, 2013 7:30 PM at Breezy Point
Home Opener: Sat, September 28th, 2013 7:05 PM vs. Granite City at Exchange Arena
The Minnesota Flying Aces season was an extended one in 2012-13 when the team finished strong and won their last four regular season games to earn the last playoff spot in the competitive West Division of the North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL).
Coach Andy Maher, who joined the team just after Christmas last season, credited the culture change around the franchise as the biggest reason for the late season push. “When I came in one of my biggest goals was to change the culture and expectations of the team on a daily basis. Our guys took it to heart and did a great job of that.”
The late season push was aided by the offensive talent of John May, a player that tendered with the Minnesota Wilderness of the North American Hockey League (NAHL) and who scored 14 points in his 12 games with the Flying Aces. May, a 19 year-old forward from Mahtomedi, Minnesota, was especially dangerous in the final four games to end the season scoring a total of seven points in those games.
The Flying Aces playoffs came to an abrupt end as the eventual Tier III Junior National Champion North Iowa Bulls swept them in the divisional Semi-Finals. Coach Maher commented on his team’s playoff loss by complementing their opponent. “We knew what a great team North Iowa was and they proved that by winning the National Championship.”
Leading into the 2013-14 season Coach Maher expects his team to continue what they started in 2012-13 by emphasizing the continuing change of culture regarding the franchise. “The big thing we need to continue to do is pick up where we left off,” Coach Maher said, “We also need to bring a winning environment that will help players succeed and get better everyday.”
Waiting until the last game of the season to make the playoffs is not something Coach Maher wants to make a habit of and is hoping his team starts to improve from the beginning of the season. “The first thing we will focus on is getting better everyday from the beginning of training camp and if our team focuses on that then the wins and losses will take care of themselves.”
Coach Maher is aware of the strong competition of the West Division saying there are “no easy games” and has one ultimate team goal in mind for this squad. “The first goal as a team is to make the playoffs and once you do that then anything can happen.”
The Flying Aces have a great foundation to build on as they continue to change the culture in the locker room and on the ice, which they hope will lead them to a playoff berth once again. For their fans sake as well as the coaches the team will plan on doing it before the last game of the season.
Next up in the 22 in 22 series: North Iowa Bulls