The St. Louis Jr. Blues entered the 2012-13 Silver Cup as the top seed but struggled to find offense in their opening game against the Peoria Mustangs. After falling behind 3-0 at the end of the second period, the Jr. Blues came out strong in the third, cutting the gap to 3-2. But a power play goal and an empty net goal for Peoria would seal the win and put them in the drivers seat. The Jr. Blues had the opportunity to advance, but needed help from Cleveland. Cleveland would suffer the same fate, dropping a 5-2 decision to Peoria rendering the St. Louis/Cleveland match-up a game of pride.
Head Coach J.P. Beilsten said, "Peoria outplayed us, and they outplayed Cleveland. I warned our guys that Peoria was playing well, and they were probably going to start a goaltender that we hadn't seen much of all year and they were hungry to beat us. They found out that if you sit back for two periods, it's hard to come back and beat a team."
But Beilsten refuses to define the season based on the Silver Cup Playoffs. He said, "We've talked all season about getting better and helping players move on. We've had a great year in that regard. We've moved kids up that stuck, gotten kids the opportunity to skate with high level teams, gotten kids tender offers, and this team came together better than just about any team I have ever coached."
As for the playoffs, Beilsten isn't so sure that the outcome would have been different in the Silver Cup Finals. North Iowa started strong and rolled to a win in the finals. Beilsten said, "I've watch North Iowa on tape and in person throughout the season, I'm not sure that anyone beats them this weekend. They were impressive."
The season was capped off with an impressive showing at the NA3HL banquet on Thursday night. The organization was named the NA3HL Organization of the Year while Head Coach J.P. Beilsten was named the NA3HL Coach of the year and defenseman Kyle Meeh was named to the First Team All-NA3HL as a defenseman. In addition, 4 players signed tenders for next season at Tier II and several others have been in contact with Tier I teams and collegiate teams. Says Beilsten, "Our job is to help players move on. Winning championships is icing on the cake, but it doesn't change the fact that we had a good year with a lot of player movement. Really, only 2 teams in the country are going to play on the final day of the season and only one of them will win. Regardless of the season, that is still extremely hard to do. I'm proud of the guys. Proud of the way they worked as a team, bonded as a team, and played as a team."
Next up for the Jr. Blues is the pre-draft camp in May. The Jr. Blues also congratulate the Peoria Mustangs on a great end to the season and wish good luck to the North Iowa Bulls as they represent the NA3HL in the USA Hockey National Championships.