- Created: 27 February 2017
Next stop, Boston. The Eugene Generals punched their ticket to the USPHL Beantown Spring Classic last weekend after sweeping the Seattle Ravens in the USP3 Pacific Division Championship Series.
After a record-setting regular season, the franchise's twelfth season of operation and its first as a member of the United States Premier Hockey League, the top-seeded Generals hosted the second-place Seattle Ravens in the 2017 USP3 PDCS, which kicked off last Tuesday in Eugene. A best-of-three series, the winner serves as the Pacific Division's representative at the USPHL Beantown Spring Classic where teams from the Midwest, North, Pacific and South Division's will vie for the 2017 USP3 title.
PDCS Game One: Generals - 7, Ravens - 4
Game One of the PDCS included a tense first twenty minutes as both teams were knotted up at 1-1 heading to the locker room, but a second period scoring spree that included four goals in a span of just over nine minutes helped provide some breathing room for Eugene before the Generals put the game out of reach in the third period to win, 7-4. Six different players lit the lamp for the Generals on the evening while thirteen Generals skaters tallied at least one point in the game.
PDCS Game Two: Generals - 4, Ravens - 0
With Friday's Game Two bringing an opportunity for Eugene to clinch the series in front of the biggest crowd of the season, a scoreless and penalty-filled first period tempered the excitement in the stands, but the rink would start rocking again in the second period as goals from Jordan Szymanski and Cole Bloemer sent the Rink Exchange crowd into a frenzy. Third period goals from Adam Shimamoto and Jack Geisler put the game out of reach thanks to a stellar shutout effort from goaltender Christopher Alexakis. Szymanski's goal, which proved to be the game-winner, was his very first goal as a General after joining the team in January while Alexakis stopped all 31 shots faced to earn his fourth shutout this year (including the regular season).
The Pacific Division wasn't the only division to punch their ticket to Boston last weekend as the South Division's Florida Jr. Blades and Charlotte Rush each locked in their spot behind impressive second round performances.
The Rush ran into far more than they expected in the South Division's opening round as Charlotte eked out a pair of one-goal wins over the Palm Beach Hawks, however the second round proved to be a much more comfortable affair for the Rush as the defending South Division champion Hampton Roads Whalers were no match for Charlotte, who prevailed with wins of 5-1 and 8-3. Meanwhile, the one-loss Florida Jr. Blades cruised past another playoff opponent, this time the Atlanta Jr. Knights, as the Blades earned comfortable wins of 5-1 and 7-0 to advance.
The seven-team Midwest Division is down to its final four after an exciting opening round of play that was highlighted by a number of high-scoring games. The Alpena Flyers bounced the Ironwood Yoopers thanks to wins of 9-6 and 4-3 while Decatur cruised to wins of 4-0 and 8-2 over the last-place Tri City Icehawks, and Motor City advanced after a wild series with the Kalkaska Rhinos that included a come-from-behind, 3-2 win in Game One followed by a thrilling, 7-6 overtime win in Game Two.
In all, the top seed advanced in each of the three playoff series in the Midwest and no series reached a winner-take-all third game. Now, the top-seeded Traverse City North Stars, who were idle during the opening round, will play host to the Alpena Flyers while the Decatur Blaze will host the Motor City Hawks, both of which will be a best-of-three series. The winners of each series will advance to the USPHL Beantown Classic as the Midwest Division's two representatives.
The North Division brought some surprise this weekend as the top-seeded Jersey Hitmen needed all three games to dispatch of fourth-seeded Boston after the Jr. B's stole Game One, 3-2, despite the Hitmen holding a 2-0 lead in the second period. Boston would respond from the two-goal deficit to tie the score before the second intermission and a goal from Justin Richards just 90 seconds into the third period would be enough for the Jr. B's to hold on behind a 36-save performance from Tim Swenson in net. Game Two saw the Hitmen respond strongly as they notched a 5-1 win behind a dominant third period in which Jersey outscored Boston, 3-0, and the Hitmen completed the series comeback thanks to a come-from-behind, 2-1 win in Game Three thanks to Gary Ragusa's go-ahead goal with less than seven minutes left in regulation.
Awaiting the Hitmen will be the Islanders Hockey Club who soundly defeated the Jersey Shore Whalers in their opening round matchup with wins of 7-3 and 5-1, respectively. The Hitmen finished just two points ahead of I.H.C. in the regular season standings and the two teams split their six matchups this season with each team scoring 20 goals across the six combined games.
With the Generals in the midst of playing in their first season as members of the United States Premier Hockey League, fans throughout the Emerald Valley have been curious as to how exactly the USPHL Playoffs will look and who will be participating. Find answers to all of your playoff questions below:
Who will be there?
Following each division's respective playoff, a total of six teams will advance to the USPHL Beantown Spring Classic, the host event for the USPHL Playoffs. As the four USP3 Divisions have an unequal number teams (Midwest: 7, North: 5, Pacific: 4, South: 11), two divisions have been given a total of two allocation spots for the USP3 Playoffs: the Midwest and the South Divisions.
Each division's representative(s) at the USPHL Beantown Spring Classic is listed below:
Midwest: Traverse City/Alpena and Decatur/Motor City
North: Jersey/Islanders Hockey Club
Pacific: Eugene Generals
South: Florida Jr. Blades (#1), Charlotte Rush (#2)
As the playoff projections currently stand, Jersey is the favorite in the North while Traverse City would serve as the Midwest's top seed and the Decatur Blaze would take the second spot.
What is the format?
Once the divisional playoffs wrap up, the six remaining teams will be divided into two, three-team pools, as listed below:
Pool A: South Division #1 (Florida Jr. Blades), Pacific Division #1 (Eugene Generals), Midwest Division #2 (TBD)
Pool B: Midwest Division #1 (TBD), North Division #1 (TBD), South Division #2 (Charlotte Rush)
After completing round-robin play, the top two teams in each pool based upon record will advance to the semfinal round, which would include the top team from Pool A playing against the second place team from Pool B and the top team from Pool B facing off against the second place team from Pool A. The winner from each respective semifinal matchup would then face off in a best-of-three series to decide the 2017 USP3 Champion.
Times? Dates? Location? What are the details?
The USPHL Beantown Spring Classic will he held at the New England Sports Complex in Marlborough, Massachusetts from March 8-12. The schedule will be formatted as such:
Round-Robin: March 8-9
Semifinals: March 9
Championship: March 10-12
The USPHL Beantown Spring Classic will he held at the New England Sports Center in Marlborough, Massachusetts