We have discussed USA Hockey's Tier III National Championship over
the last few weeks so today it's time to take a good look at the teams and
leagues that will be in Las Vegas April 5-9 for the AAU United Hockey Union National Championship.
Let's run through the three
leagues and try to identify the likely participants in Las Vegas.
Northern States Hockey League - The
NSHL has elected to send the top two teams from the regular season, the Lake
George Fighting Spirit (#1) and Syracuse Stampede (#2), to represent the league
in Las Vegas.
Midwest Junior Hockey League - The playoff winner will join
the regular season champion Hartland Hounds (other finalist if Hounds take the
playoff championship as well). My money is on Tennyson Chevrolet being the
other representative. The Soo Firehawks have gone 2-2 against Dan Vasquez's
team this season and also have a chance.
Western States Hockey League - The
Idaho Steelheads and Southern Oregon Spartans battle it out this weekend for
the league's Northwest Division Championship, despite the fact that both teams
have already secured spots at the Thorn Cup Finals scheduled for April 5-9 in
McCall, Idaho. Idaho is automatically in as the host team and the Spartans are
in regardless of what happens this weekend. The Bay Area Seals and Fresno
Monsters will battle it out this weekend for the Western Division Championship.
The Monsters are 6-0 against the Seals this season but that statistic is very
misleading since Bay Area acquired a number of high impact players and has gone
on a 22-3-3 run to close the season. The Dallas Ice Jets have steamrolled their
division opponents this year with a 33-0-0 record against the other three
teams. This week's Mid-West Championship series, against cross-town rival Texas
Brahmas, appears to be a forgone conclusion for last season's Thorn Cup
Finalist. The El Paso Rhinos and Boulder
Bison will play for the Mountain Championship. The Bison and Rhinos split the
season series 3-3. The Thorn Cup Finals will also feature a sixth wildcard team
that will be selected from the semi-final runner-ups. That will likely be the
team with the best winning percentage during the regular season.
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Stephen Heisler resides
in Puerto Penasco, Mexico with his wife, Maria, and their two children, Sonia
and Tomas. Tune in to his Mexico based Classic Rock Station, GoPenasco