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Junior hockey leagues ramping up seasons

09/12/2013, 11:30am MDT
By Tom Robinson - Special to

Cameron Klein and Nathan Aloisio did not wait long to post their first hat tricks of the season.

The North Jersey Avalanche’s Klein scored three goals and assisted on another Friday in the Metropolitan League’s season opener when his team defeated the Connecticut Junior Oilers 6-3.

Aloisio had his hat trick Saturday in the first game of the Minnesota Junior Hockey League season, leading the Illiana Blackbirds to a 7-5, come-from-behind victory over the Wisconsin Rampage.

Klein, a 17-year-old who has played in USA Hockey national tournaments to end the last two seasons, had 39 points in 45 Met League games last season as assistant captain on the league champion New Jersey Rockets. After scoring the Met League’s first goal of the season, Klein broke a 3-3 tie with goals 3:46 apart, both on assists by Robert Graziano.

Illiana came back from a two-goal deficit when Aloisio scored a power-play goal in the first period, a short-handed goal in the second and an even-strength goal in the third.

MORE OPENERS: Aaron Daniello made 44 saves to lead the Walpole Express to a 4-1 win over the Cranston Reds Saturday in the only other opener of the Met League’s first weekend.

In the North American 3 Hockey League openers, the Cincinnati Swords and Metro Jets each won one-goal games on both Saturday and Sunday.

Cincinnati topped the defending Central Division champion St. Louis Blues, 4-3 and 3-2. R.J. Marshall assisted on three goals, including Saturday’s game-winner.

Metro defeated the Pittsburgh Vengeance in a pair of 3-2 games, the first of which was decided in overtime. Trevor Kalinowski made 46 saves in the second win.

The United States Premier Hockey League, which features 25 teams in the Empire Division, 18 in the Elite Division and nine in the Premier Division, has its first junior season underway. The USPHL also has 18U and 16U Midget Divisions.

James Winkler had a goal in each game to help the Portland Junior Pirates win the first two Premier games — 3-1 over the Philadelphia Flyers and 2-0 over the Boston Junior Bruins. Derek Moore made 23 saves against Boston.

The Brewster Bulldogs and Philadelphia Revolution started 2-0 in the Empire Division. Philip Variano led Brewster’s fast start with a hat trick and two assists in Saturday’s opener and two goals and an assist Sunday in a 9-4, 5-4 sweep over the Frederick Freeze. Michael Cosentino made 24 saves in each game when Philadelphia defeated the Jersey Wildcats, 5-1 and 7-3.

Brett Becker had four goals for the Bay State Breakers in a 5-2 win over the Springfield Pics. Becker scored the first two goals 3:46 apart and then the last two for a 5-0 lead midway through the third period.

STARTING SOON: The defending Silver Cup and USA Hockey Tier III national champion North Iowa Bulls open Friday at the Granite City Lumberjacks, then the league schedule heats up with eight games Saturday and seven Sunday.

All 16 of the Minnesota League’s teams will play each day Thursday through Sunday in a series of games in Rochester, Minn., pitting Great Lakes Division teams against Minnesota Division opponents. The Marquette Royals will make their league debut against defending champion Twin Cities Northern Lights.

The Eastern Hockey League gets underway Friday afternoon with the Boston Bandits playing at the Philadelphia Revolution. The league’s inaugural weekend includes another game Friday night and three each Saturday and Sunday. Each team will play 44 games this season.

The North American Hockey League opens Friday night with four games, starting with Odessa Jackalopes at Wichita Falls Wildcats at 7:05. The NAHL has a total of 11 games in the first four days, then gets everyone going with the NAHL Showcase Sept. 18-22 in Blaine, Minn.

The American West Hockey League opens Sept. 19 with the Gillette Wild at the Glacier Nationals.

The United States Hockey League regular season opens Sept. 20.

USHL GETTING READY: Defenseman Dane Cooper had two assists total and was plus-1 in each game while helping the Waterloo Black Hawks give up only two goals when they posted the only 3-0 record among six league teams that participated in the USHL Atlantic Challenge.

The USHL Fall Classic East in Indianapolis runs Friday through Sunday. The Sioux City Musketeers, who hosted the USHL’s preseason event for the previous six years, hosted the Western Conference teams in the USHL Fall Classic West, which started Wednesday and finished Thursday.

All USHL teams will get in two preseason games during the classics.

COLLEGE COMMITMENTS: Many NAHL players announced their commitments to NCAA Division I schools.

Janesville Jets goalie Austin Priebe has committed to play at the Air Force Academy, beginning in 2014-15. The 19-year-old from Wausau, Wis. had a 2.93 goals-against average and .913 save percentage for Janesville last season.

Fairbanks Ice Dogs goalie Kevin Aldridge committed to Lake Superior State. Aldridge, from Beverly Hills, Mich., went 19-9-1 with a 2.33 GAA and .915 save percentage for the Ice Dogs last season.

Roman Ammirato, a Williamstown, N.J. native preparing for his first season as a forward with the defending Robertson Cup champion Amarillo Bulls, has committed to Union College.

The Topeka RoadRunners are sending goaltender Drew Vogler and defenseman Shawn Brennan to Merrimack College for the 2015-16 season. Vogler is from Florissant, Mo. and Brennan is from Delaware, Ohio.

COACHING CHANGES: Tom Younghans, a member of the 1976 University of Minnesota national champions and a veteran of 429 National Hockey League games, is the new head coach at Twin Cities Northern Lights.

Erik Largen moved up to an assistant coaching position with the Tri City Storm of the USHL after leading the team to an 87-9-2 record in the past two seasons and a Tier III national runner-up finish last season.

Dan Wildfong is the new head coach of the NAHL’s Lone Star Brahmas.

ONE-TIMERS: The USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints went 3-2-0 and earned the Junior World Cup bronze medal when Alexx Privitera scored a hat trick in a 4-1 win over Dynamo-Shinnik from Belarus in Omsk, Russia. … The Eastern League reworked its first schedule after the revocation of the New Hampshire Lakers franchise for one season, leaving the league with 17 active teams. … After adding a sixth team in Everett, Wash. in August, the Northern Pacific Hockey League is still finalizing its schedule, which will likely start late this month.

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

Tag(s): Junior Notebooks