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Daily Dish: AAU National Championship Preview - Junior Hockey News

Published: Thursday, 4 Apr 2013
By: Stephen Heisler  |  Web site: JuniorHockey.com

While USA Hockey's Tier III Junior National Championship is getting underway in Minnesota, the Amateur Athletic Union is hosting their National Championship in Las Vegas.

Rochester or Las Vegas, where to go?

The Western States Hockey League has hosted the Western States Shootout in Las Vegas for years, and the event has grown to include more and more college scouts every year. During this year's Shootout, WSHL Commissioner Ron White has telling all the college guys about AAU's National Championship event.

The tournament begins on Friday when the upstart Bay Area Seals from the WSHL take on the Northern States Hockey League's Lake George Fighting Spirit at 10:00 AM.

There are two representatives from each of the three AAU United Hockey Union sanctioned leagues.

Following the same format as the Thorne Cup Finals, the six teams will be placed in two flights of three then play the three teams from the opposite bracket(round-robin format), with the top four teams advancing to the semifinals with the winners playing for the AAU National Championship on Tuesday April 9.

Bracket A

Idaho Jr. Steelheads (WSHL Champion)- John Olver's Steelheads are riding a 24 game winning streak into Las Vegas and have to be considered the favorite to claim AAU's first National Championship.  Idaho could very likely be the best pay-to-play junior team on the continent.

 

Bay Area Seals (WSHL Runner-Up) - The expansion Bay Area Seals are the surprise entry for the WSHL. The team started the season with a 4-13-1 record before acquiring a number of key players. The stormed through the Shootout with a 4-0 record and have not looked back since. The Seals dispatched the Valencia Flyers and upset division champion Fresno Monsters to reach the Thorne Cup finals. It was in Idaho where the Seals really shined, managing to advance to the Championship game only to lose to Idaho in the final.

 

Syracuse Stampede (NSHL Champion) - Stampede boss Mike Beavis knows a thing or two about the game of hockey. The veteran coach must have a million junior hockey miles under him by now and has done a heck of a job carving out a niche for the Stampede in upstate New York. Led by team captain Kyle Williams (committed to W New England) and Alex Huizenga (Morrisville State) on the ice, along with Trace Pennock (Ferris State Div I) between the pipes,  the Stampede could potentially challenge for a semi-final spot.


Bracket B

Hartland Hounds (MWJHL Champion) - The Hounds may come into this tournament with the same ailment as WSHL's Dallas Ice Jets. Both teams ran roughshod through their schedule with a ridicules win-loss schedule. Dallas was shocked at the Thorne Cup Finals by Bay Area and has picked up the golf clubs. The Hounds are going to have to face the music against three of the hottest teams in the country.  Hartland has a good team, it's just too bad that have not had the opportunity to be tested. Well, they will be on Friday.

 

Tennyson Chevrolet (MWJHL Runner-Up) - Tennyson is kind of in the same boat as Hartland. Danny Vasquez's group finished third this season and upset second place Soo Firehawks to secure their trip to Las Vegas. Hartland made light work of Tennyson in the Veteran Cup finals.

 

Lake George Fighting Spirit (NSHL Runner-Up)  - Lake George is led by SUNY-Canton committed goaltender Chris Marsillo and promises to be one of the stingiest teams at the event... well, on paper anyway. Marsillo put up impressive numbers this season (16-5-1, 1.94 GAA) and is known to give opponents fits.

 

So who is going to win? It's entirely possible that the A-Bracket teams run the table against the B's, something that would create a mess for the semi-final round. We could also be looking at a rematch of the Thorne Cup final for the National Championship. In this event, goal differential is going to be a serious factor. Teams are not going to have the luxury of letting up because doing so could cost them dearly in the end.

The UHU all-star tournament will be run concurrently with the championships, with two all-star teams from the WSHL (an overage squad and underage team) joining a team each from the NSHL and MWJHL.

The "Best of the Rest" format will be comprised of a three-game round-robin, with the top two teams advancing to the championship game on Monday, April 8.

Below is the schedule for both tournaments:

 

AAU NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE

Friday April 5

10:10 AM- Bay Area Seals vs. Lake George Fighting Spirit

1:20 PM- Syracuse Stampede vs. Hartland Hounds

4:40 PM- Tennyson Chevrolet vs. Idaho Jr. Steelheads

 

Saturday April 6

10:10 AM- Syracuse Stampede vs. Tennyson Chevrolet

1:20 PM- Lake George Fighting Spirit vs. Idaho Jr. Steelheads

4:40 PM- Hartland Hounds vs. Bay Area Seals

 

Sunday April 7

10:10 AM- Idaho Jr. Steelheads vs. Hartland Hounds

1:20 PM- Bay Area Seals. vs. Tennyson Chevrolet

4:40 PM- Lake George Fighting Spirit vs. Syracuse Stampede

 

Monday April 8 (Semi-Finals)

1:20 PM- High Point #3 vs. High Point #2

4:40 PM- High Point #4 vs. High Point #1

 

Tuesday April 9 (Championship Game)

11:00 AM- Winner 2 vs. Winner 1

 

Best of the Rest Tournament

Friday April 5

9:00 AM- NSHL vs. WSHL (1)

11:20 AM- WSHL (2) vs. MWJHL

 

Saturday April 6

9:00 AM- MWJHL vs. WSHL (1)

11:20 AM- WSHL (2) vs. NSHL

 

Sunday April 7

9:00 AM- NSHL vs. MWJHL

11:20 AM- WSHL (1) vs. WSHL (2)

 

Monday April 8

10:00 AM- High Point 2 vs. High Point 1

 

JuniorHockey.com is the premier website dedicated to delivering the latest news and developing stories from junior hockey across North America, as well as providing online tools for junior hockey players and prospects. With over 330,000+ views in January, Juniorhockey.com has emerged as the internet's leading source of junior hockey news and information. 

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 Radio.








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