The North American 3 Hockey League will crown a Silver Cup champion this weekend at Canlan Ice Sports in Romeoville, Illinois, with an eight-team tournament featuring all the divisional playoff champions.
The tournament runs Wednesday through Sunday.
Regular-season success transferred to the playoffs. Seven of the division playoff titles were won by regular-season champions and the other was won by the Atlanta Capitals, who finished just two points out of first.
The Metro Jets, unbeaten in the regular season, are the top seed based on regular-season standings points, followed by the Binghamton Junior Senators, Yellowstone Quake, St. Louis Junior Blues, Atlanta, North Iowa Bulls, Long Beach Sharks and Granite City Lumberjacks.
Defending champion North Iowa has won three of the last four titles. Granite City has two the other two titles in the last five years.
The teams will take part in three-game round robins in a pair of four-team pools. The top two in each pool advance to the semifinals.
GETTING THERE: St. Louis, Metro, Long Beach and Granite City needed three games to get through their division series.
Nick Balestra and Brandon Bornkamp had two goals each when the Junior Blues defeated the Peoria Mustangs, 6-3, in the Midwest Division.
After a perfect regular season, Metro lost games in both playoff series and needed Connor Inger’s second goal to pull out a 3-2 overtime victory over the Pittsburgh Vengeance in the East’s decisive game.
Gunther Stange scored twice to lead Long Beach to a 4-3 Coastal win over the New England Stars.
Granite City took the West with a 4-2 win over the New Ulm Steel.
Yellowstone, Binghamton, Atlanta and North Iowa won in two-game sweeps.
Cosimo Yapello’s overtime goal in Game Two clinched Yellowstone’s 3-2 win over the Great Falls Americans in the Frontier Division.
PLAYOFF ROUNDUP: The Philadelphia Little Flyers and Philadelphia Junior Flyers swept semifinal series to set up their title matchup in the Eastern Hockey League Premier Division.
After the New Jersey Rockets scored the series’ first two goals, the Little Flyers bounced back to sweep, 6-4 and 3-1.
Alex Peterson had points on seven of nine Little Flyers’ goals while linemates Joey Saval and Alex Octerbeck were in on six and five of the goals.
Joseph Giacobbo had 35 saves in the clinching win.
The Junior Flyers also overcame a 2-0 deficit. Their comeback was in the second game when Luke Benitez had a hat trick to key an 8-3 victory over the New Hampshire Junior Monarchs.
Matthew Manning scored both game-winning goals, including a short-handed, third-period goal for a 3-2 win in the series opener. He has four game-winners in the playoffs.
DIVISION CHAMPS: The Minot Minotauros and Aston Rebels won division titles in the North American Hockey League with victories Saturday.
Lucas Murray made 44 saves as Minot locked up the Central Division title with a 3-2 win over the host Brookings Blizzard.
Brennan Kapcheck scored twice and the defense allowed just 15 shots as Aston clinched its second straight regular-season East Division title with a 9-1 rout of the host Northeast Generals.
All four division titles have now been settled.
Minot and Aston join the Janesville Jets and Lone Star Brahmas as division champions.
USHL CLINCHINGS: The Chicago Steel and Waterloo Black Hawks clinched United States Hockey League playoff berths with Saturday victories.
Brannon McMannus had two goals and two assists as Chicago clinched its first Clark Cup Playoff spot since 2008 with a 6-2 win over the Des Moines Buccaneers. Eduards Tralmaks added a goal and three assists while Dayton Rasmussen made 28 saves in the win.
Shane Bowers assisted the tying goal then scored a power-play goal with 15 seconds left to lift Waterloo over the Dubuque Fighting Saints, 2-1.
Waterloo followed the Sioux City Musketeers to become the second Western Conference team to clinch.
ONE-TIMERS: Max Ellis, a 17-year-old forward from Plymouth, Michigan, playing for the USHL’s Youngstown Phantoms, has committed to play at Notre Dame. … David Hrenak’s 28 saves helped the Green Bay Gamblers extend their USHL winning streak to six games with a 4-2 win over the Omaha Lancers Saturday. … Donovan Ott scored three goals in two NAHL wins to become the first Johnstown Tomahawks player to score 30 in a season.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
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