VENUE: Canlan Ice Sports, Romeoville, Ill.
GAME TIMES: March 27, 4:30 pm vs. Yellowstone Quake (35-7-5, 75 pts, 1st in Frontier Division, 5th seed at Fraser Cup), March 28, 2:30 pm vs. Granite City Lumberjacks (33-14-0, 1st in West Division, 8th seed at Fraser Cup), March 29, 4:30 pm vs. Binghamton Jr. Senators (41-3-3, 85 pts, 1st in Northeast Division, 1st overall seed) (all times Central). Semifinal and final times are to be announced.
WHERE TO FOLLOW: All games will be streamed live and in high definition on HockeyTV.com (subscription required). In addition, follow @JrBluesGameday on Twitter for live updates and exclusive behind-the-scenes content.
THIRD TIME LUCKY: The Jr. Blues punched their third straight ticket to the Fraser Cup (formerly Silver Cup) Finals with a 11-5 win at Peoria to sweep the Mustangs and win the Midwest Division crown. The past two seasons St. Louis has gone 1-2 in Romeoville and failed to progress out of the group stage, and doubtless will be looking to change their fortunes this year.
HOW IT WORKS: All eight division playoff winners qualified for the Fraser Cup, and were then divided up into two groups of four based on regular-season points totals. St. Louis were seeded fourth, and thus placed into Group A with Binghamton (#1 seed), Yellowstone (#5) and Granite City (#8). Group B features #2 seed Metro, #3 seed Texas, #6 seed New England and #7 seed La Crosse. Each team will play each other once, with the top two teams from each group advancing to the semi-finals on Friday: the winners of those games will play in the grand final on Saturday afternoon.
SCOUTING THE QUAKE: The men from Cody, Wyo. are also making their third-straight trip to Chicagoland: last year they advanced to the semifinals before falling to Metro in the semi-finals. The Quake advanced to the Fraser Cup Finals by winning the Frontier Division, sweeping Gillette in the semi-finals and doing the same to Helena in the division final. Rookie forward Riley Buller leads the way for Yellowstone with 94 points in the regular season (40 G, 54 A), while goaltender Reid Waszczenko has had an excellent year with a 1.85 goals-against average and .947 save percentage. St. Louis and Yellowstone faced each other earlier this year at the NA3HL Showcase: the Jr. Blues ran out 4-1 winners back in December.
SCOUTING THE LUMBERJACKS: The ‘Jacks took down Willmar and New Ulm both in sweeps to defend their Fraser Cup championship as the West Division winners. Forward Braden Altena, who earlier this year committed to play NCAA Division III hockey at St. John’s University in Minnesota, tops the scoring charts with 72 points, and leads a veteran core for the men from Sauk Rapids, Minn.: the team’s top eight scorers are all members of last year’s championship team. Ridge Gerads (1.68 GAA, .934 SV%) and David Mulligan (2.48 GAA, .910 SV%) have split the goaltending duties all year, each playing 22 games during the regular season, although Mulligan has been preferred in the playoffs. St. Louis and Granite City met four times this season, with each side claiming home sweeps: they also were in the same group at last year’s Fraser Cup, with the Lumberjacks mounting a furious comeback capped off by a goal with three seconds left to win 4-3.
SCOUTING THE JR. SENS: The men from New York come to Romeoville having not lost a game since January 21, when they dropped a 3-2 decision in a shootout at Pittsburgh. The Jr. Sens swept first Oswego and then Niagara Falls in the Northeast Division playoffs to make their second straight Fraser Cup Finals appearance: last year, they won their group only to lose in the semi-finals to Granite City. Forward Brad Becker won the NA3HL scoring crown with 116 points (53 G, 63 A): he has committed to play NCAA DIII hockey at Utica College. Brady Anderson, acquired earlier this season from Willmar, has been sterling in goal for Binghamton, with a 16-0-2 record, 0.88 GAA, and .962 save percentage for his new club. St. Louis and the Jr. Sens’ lone match-up in history came at last year’s NA3HL Showcase, where Binghamton won 6-3.
JUNIOR NOTES: The Jr. Blues wish to congratulate our five age-out players—Jake Cox, Jack Hatton, Cameron McAtee, Dan Dunaway, and Dylan Carroll—on their great junior hockey careers. We wish them nothing but the best in their future endeavors.