Three teams would finish with a perfect 4-0 record at the NAHL Showcase, but thanks to having the best goal differential, the Janesville Jets were crowned the 2011 Combat Hockey/NAHL Showcase Champions on Saturday night. Janesville finished with a +9 goal differential, while the Fresno Monsters (+7) and the Fairbanks Ice Dogs (+6) would also complete the Showcase with perfect 4-0 records. Saturday was the most competitive day yet of the Showcase with four games being decided in overtime or a shootout.
St. Louis Bandits 4 – Alaska Avalanche 3
The Bandits scored two goals in the final eight minutes of the game to fend off a determined Alaska squad by a score of 4-3, giving St. Louis a 3-0-1 record for the Showcase. Ryan Cotton had a goal and two assists, Stephen Bopp had a goal and an assist and Cody Ganchar scored the game-winning goal with under five minutes left for the Bandits. Alaska had two goals from Evan Janssen and two assists from Casey Nelson in the loss. In goal, Spencer Viele made 31 saves for the win for St. Louis, while Bodhi Engum suffered the loss for Alaska making 38 saves.
Traverse City North Stars 4 – Springfield Jr. Blues 0
North Stars goaltender Kyle Laslo stopped all 26 shots as Traverse City shutout the Springfield Jr. Blues to finish with a Showcase record of 3-0-1. After a scoreless 1st period, Traverse City would score two goals in the 2nd period off the sticks of Jared Van Wormer and Eric Jones. Then the North Stars would add two more in the 3rd period with goals from Kyle Froese and Alec Shields. Traverse City outshot the Jr. Blues 34-26. Connor Girard got the loss between the pipes for Springfield, making 30 saves.
Wenatchee Wild 5 – Chicago Hitmen 1
Wenatchee shrugged off an 0-2 start at the Showcase by winning their last two games including a convincing 5-1 win over Chicago. Five different players scored for the Wild, who broke the game open early with three, 1st period goals from Evan Schmidbauer, Jerad Tafoya and Ben Carey. Brandon Flood would score the lone goal for the Hitmen in the 2nd period to make it 3-1, but Wenatchee would score two more in the 3rd period with goals from Blake Saylor and Trevor Husch. Robert Nichols was again strong in goal for the Wild, stopping 22 of 23 shots, while Brett Kilar got the loss for the Hitmen making 19 saves.
Janesville Jets 4 – Kenai River Brown Bears 2
In a battle of unbeaten 3-0 teams, the Jets wore down the Brown Bears with a 41-22 shot advantage and scored two 3rd period goals to win, 4-2 and post a perfect 4-0 record at the NAHL Showcase. The Jets got another solid performance from goaltender Tony Kujava, who played in all four Showcase games, allowing just three goals in the process. Pijus Rulevicius had a goal and an assist as did Zach Adams and Jordan Bancroft for the Jets. Adam Frank scored the other goal. For Kenai River, Miikael Arkimo and Sean Muller had the goals. Kenai River finished the Showcase with a 3-1 record.
Topeka RoadRunners 6 – Jamestown Ironmen 1
Topeka put in their second straight dominant performance as they outshot the Ironmen 46-23 to win going away, 6-1. Ryan White paced the way for Topeka with two goals and an assist. Other RoadRunner goals came from Jake Lynes, Zach Schrotenboer, Kyle Sharkey and Brian Christie. Goaltender Josh Hillegas got his first win in a Topeka uniform, making 22 saves. For Jamestown, who went winless in the Showcase, Anthony Coles scored the only goal, while Joe Ballmer was busy in goal facing 46 shots. Topeka finished the Showcase with a 2-1-1 record, winning their final two games.
Fresno Monsters 4 – New Mexico Mustangs 3
Jeffrey McMinimy was once again the star for the Monsters figuring in on all four goals including a hat-trick in Fresno’s 4-3 win over New Mexico, giving the Monsters a perfect 4-0 record at the Showcase. McMinimy finished with 11 points in the four games in Blaine. Charles Baldwin scored first for New Mexico, but McMinimy would answer back five minutes later. McMinimy would add his second in the 2nd period along with another goal from Karl Andersen to give the Monsters a 3-1 lead after two periods. McMinimy would make it 4-1 just :17 seconds into the 3rd period. New Mexico would make it close later in the 3rd period with goals from Brandon Bistodeau and Zach Sauerer, but fall just short, finishing the Showcase with a 1-3 record.
Dawson Creek Rage 3 – Michigan Warriors 2 (SO)
The Dawson Creek Rage saved their best game of the Showcase for last as they posted their first win of the season with a 3-2 shootout win over the Michigan Warriors. The Rage got two power play goals in the 2nd period from Tyson McCallum and Scott Fellnermayr to answer a goal from the Warriors Joseph Ferriss. Michigan would tie the game in the 3rd period with a goal from AJ White. After a scoreless overtime, Dawson Creek had three of their four shooters score in the shootout for their first win of the season, while Michigan finished with a 3-0-1 record for the Showcase. Both goalies played well with Jack Surgenor getting the win for the Rage, making 37 saves and Tyler Ross getting the loss with 40 saves.
Corpus Christi Ice Rays 7 – Minot Minotauros 2
The IceRays blew the game wide open with four, 3rd period goals in a 7-2 win over the Minot Minotauros. The IceRays may have found themselves a budding superstar in 16-year-old Matthew Weis, who had a four-point night and also got multi-point performances from Seth Blair, Mychal Monteith, Perry DArrisso, Beau Walker and Phil Pietroniro. Anthony Stolarz got the win in goal for the IceRays making 26 saves. Jadin Martin continued his hot play for the Minotauros scoring his fourth goal of the Showcase in the losing effort. Buster Hebda had the other goal for Minot who fell to 1-3 with the loss, while Corpus Christi finished the Showcase 2-2.
Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings 4 – Bismarck Bobcats 2
The Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings finished the Showcase on the right note by winning their second straight game with a 4-2 win over the Bismarck Bobcats, who lost their last two games of the Showcase after winning their first two. Andrew Graves, Nick Kovalchik, Trevor Boyd and Chad McDonald had the goals for the Jr. K-Wings in the win, which improved them to a 2-2 record. Bismarck got markers from Francis DeAugustine and Nikolaj Rosenthal in the losing effort. The big story of the night was young Kalamazoo goaltender Zach Nagelvoort, who was stellar in goal making 35 saves. Aaron Nelson got the loss for Bismarck making 23 saves.
Aberdeen Wings 3 – Texas Tornado 2 (OT)
In one of the more exciting and back-and-forth games of the day, Aberdeen’s Ryan Doner scored in overtime on a nice individual effort to give the Wings a 3-2 win over the Texas Tornado. Aberdeen finished the Showcase with a 3-1 record, while Texas finished with a 2-1-1 record. Texas had two leads thanks to goals from veteran forwards Marc Biggs and Jack Prince, but each time it was answered back by Aberdeen goals from Loren French and Cory Ward. That led to Doner’s heroics in overtime. The other story of the game was the play of both goaltenders, who were sharp. Each made 32 saves on the night with the Wings Frederick Leisner getting the win, while Texas rookie Joakim Jutras got the OT loss.
Fairbanks Ice Dogs 4 – Port Huron Fighting Falcons 3 (SO)
The cardiac kids from Fairbanks, did it yet again and came from behind to win in a shootout against a determined Port Huron team by a score of 4-3 in a shootout. The Ice Dogs finish with a perfect 4-0 record at the Showcase, while the Fighting Falcons go home with their head held high with a 3-0-1 record. The three wins for Port Huron is half of what they had the entire year last season (6), a testament to how much the team has improved. JT Osborn scored both goals to give Fairbanks a 2-0 lead after two periods. However, the Fighting Falcons would claw back to take a 3-2 lead with goals from Nicholas Sierra, Rick DeRosa and Kody Polin. Then it was time for more Ice Dogs late game heroics as Nick Hinz tied the game with 1:34 remaining and then goaltender Nick Heimer robbed Max Reavis on the final shootout try to preserve the victory for Fairbanks.
Alexandria Blizzard 4 – Odessa Jackalopes 1
The Blizzard posted their first win of the season with a 4-1 win over Odessa. Thomas Williams was the offensive star for the Blizzard as the 19-year-old hometown native registered a hat-trick, which included two shorthanded goals and an even strength goal. The Blizzard got on the board early in the 1st period with a goal from Connor Johnston, which was followed by Williams first goal of the game later in the 1st period. Williams scored twice in the 2nd period to increase the lead to 4-0. Ryan Atkinson broke the shutout bid of Alexandria goaltender Jameson Shortreed late in the 3rd period, but the Blizzard went onto win 4-1. The Jackalopes finished the Showcase with a 0-3-1 record.
Coulee Region Chill 5 – Amarillo Bulls 4 (SO)
With the Showcase title on the line, the Coulee Region Chill survived a furious Amarillo comeback to defeat the Bulls in a shootout, 5-4. The Bulls only needed to win to secure the Showcase title, but Coulee Region had other ideas, especially early in the game. The Chill jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the 1st period with goals from Pavel Rott, David Ripple and Tommy Miller. Amarillo would answer back with three goals of their own in the 2nd period with a goal from Matt Johnson and two goals from TJ Sarcona. After the teams traded goals in the 3rd period and went through a scoreless overtime, the dramatics would end in the shootout as Chill goaltender Aaron Davis bested Bulls goaltender Mike Taffe for the Chill’s 5-4 win and a 3-1 record in the Showcase. Amarillo leaves the Showcase in 1st place in the South Division with a very good 3-0-1 record.
Wichita Falls Wildcats 4 – Austin Bruins 1
Despite getting outshot 46-33, the Wichita Falls Wildcats posted their first win in the Showcase by besting the Austin Bruins, 4-1. The Wildcats took control from the start with goals from Austin Adduono, Tyler Bruneteau and Nathan Chasteen in the first two periods. Brandon Wahlin would score the lone goal for the Bruins in the 3rd period, but Tanner Fahlstedt would answer to make the final 4-1. The star of the game for Wichita Falls was veteran goaltender Tyler Green, who stopped 45 of 46 Bruins shots. Tyler Bruggeman suffered the loss for the Bruins making 29 saves.