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Charlotte, Florida, Decatur Await Generals In Pool Play

After recently winning the USP3HL Pacific Division Championship, the Eugene Generals will face off against the Charlotte Rush, the Florida Jr. Blades, and the Decatur Blaze in pool play at the 2017 Beantown Spring Classic in Marlborough, Massachusetts.

 

Pool Play Opponents

Charlotte Rush (South Division #2)

Regular Season Record: 35-8-1, 71pts

Playoff Path: defeated Palm Beach Hawks in TWO games; defeated the Hampton Roads Whalers in TWO games

Top Scorers: Mark Kishko (23 goals, 38 assists, 61 points); Chris Dunne (23 goals, 24 assists, 47 points); James Gold (21 goals, 21 assists, 42 points)

Top Netminder(s): Anthony Keating (15-6-0, 2.32 G.A.A., .903 SV%); Chris Aureliano (12-3-0, 2.02 G.A.A., .901 SV%)

Notes: The one-loss Blades may have ran away with the division title, but Charlotte finished the season tied with the Generals for the league's second-best point total (71) and they will be traveling to Massachusetts having won 20 of their previous 22 games. Team-leading scorer Mark Kishko was the only player on the Rush roster to finish the season as one of the USP3HL's top 40 scorers, so how did they finish the season as one of the top five teams in scoring? Charlotte's program depth paid dividends as a whopping 28 different players have scored for their USP3 team this season. 

Game Time/Date: Wednesday, March 8th - 10:20am EST

 

Florida Jr. Blades (South Division #1)

Regular Season Record: 43-1-0, 86pts

Playoff Path: defeated Florida Eels in TWO games; defeated the Atlanta Jr. Knights in TWO games

Top Scorers: Tyler O'Mara (28 goals, 43 assists, 71 points); Riley Degler (26 goals, 31 assists, 57 goals); T.J. Zebley (26 goals, 29 assists 55 points); Evan Maxey (27 goals, 26 assists, 53 points); Hudson Grote (28 goals, 25 assists, 53 points); Jonas Hostovecky (14 goals, 37 assists, 51 points); Trevor Bednarek (23 goals, 23 assists, 46 points)

Top Netminder(s): Cayden Bailey (22-0-0, 1.03 G.A.A., .961 SV%); Fabio Meier (21-1-0, 1.26 G.A.A., .948SV%)

Notes: Does anything really need to be said? The Blades were arguably Tier III's most dominant team during the 2016-17 regular season as they posted only one loss, a 3-2 defeat to the Richmond Generals on December 16th. Aside from that lone blemish, the Blades have sliced through their schedule with ease as their 275 goals scored during the regular season were 33 more than the next closest team (Traverse City - 242) while goaltenders Cayden Bailey and Fabio Meier are 1-2 in the USP3HL in nearly every meaningful goaltending statistic. Florida's 17 shutouts during the regular season were nearly twice as many as the next closest team (Carolina, Jersey, Richmond - 9) and only one team across the entire Tier III landscape finished with a better record during the regular season - the NA3HL's Metro Jets (43-0-0). 

Game Time/Date: Wednesday, March 8th - 6:00pm EST

 

Decatur Blaze (Midwest Division #2)

Regular Season Record: 26-11-7, 59pts

Playoff Path: defeated Tri City Icehawks in TWO games, defeated the Motor City Hawks in THREE games

Top Scorers: Joey Starcevich (33 goals, 60 assists, 93 points); Luka Znidarsic (44 goals, 37 assists, 81 points); T.J. Dougan (24 goals, 32 assists, 56 points); Alec Hernandez (24 goals, 18 assists, 42 points)

Top Netminder(s): Adam Lindeman (7-4-1, 2.87 G.A.A., .922 SV%)

Notes: Decatur emerged during the regular season as the clear and obvious challenger to the North Stars in the Midwest, led by the pairing of USP3-leading scorer Joey Starvecich and Luka Znidarsic. Both in their final seasons of junior hockey eligibility, the two form arguably the USP3's most dynamic scoring duo while late-season addition Samuel Weidenbaum (7goals, 6 assists in 12 games) has helped provide depth behind the talented scoring pair. Decatur follows the Midwest mold of spending a hearty amount of time in the penalty box, as evidenced by their 311 penalties (5th in USP3) and 847 PIMs (7th in USP3), but going a man-down has often fueled the Blaze's fire as they netted 24 short-handed goals during the regular season, nine more than the next closest team (Florida Jr. Blades). The Blaze have been no fan of free hockey this season as they've posted a 4-7 record in games decided beyond regulation.

 

 

Eugene will be one of six USP3 teams that will be vying for the USP3 Championship at the 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 (#1) and Decatur (#2)

North: Jersey Hitmen

Pacific: Eugene Generals

South: Florida Jr. Blades (#1) and Charlotte Rush (#2)

The two second-place teams in attendance - the Charlotte Rush and Decatur Blaze - will play each of the first place teams outside of their division. 

From there, the top four teams based upon record will advance to the semifinal round, a one-game matchup to be played Thursday evening. The winner of each semifinal game will advance to face off in a best-of-three series that will decide the USP3 champion. 

 

A total of six USP3HL teams will be attendance at the 2017 Beantown Spring Classic, and those 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 (Decatur Blaze) 

Pool B: Midwest Division #1 (Traverse City North Stars), North Division #1 (TBD), South Division #2 (Charlotte Rush)

Each team will play a total of three (3) pool play games, following which the top four team will advance to the semifinal round. The winner from each respective semifinal matchup would then face off in a best-of-three series to decide the 2017 USP3 Champion. 

 

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

All Beantown Spring Classic games will be available to watch live via HockeyTV while live stats will be provided at USPHL.com with updates available via Twitter.

 

The Generals posted a 34-7-3 record during the 2016-17 regular season, its first as members of the United States Premier Hockey League and the franchise's twelfth overall season of operation. The team's 71 points accumulated during the regular season finished tied with the Charlotte Rush for second-most in the USP3, trailing only the one-loss Florida Jr. Blades (86 points). Following the regular season, the Generals won the best-of-three Pacific Division Championship Series in two games over the Seattle Ravens to earn a spot among the final six teams standing in Massachusetts. 

The United States Premier Hockey League, founded in 2012, is currently comprised of 51 organizations spread across the Eastern Seaboard, Midwest and Northwest regions of the United States fielding teams in the Premier, Elite, USP3HL, 18U, 16U, 16U Futures and High Performance Youth Divisions. The Premier Division is the top tier of the USPHL developmental ladder and is a USA Hockey-sanctioned Tier III junior hockey league, as are the Elite and USP3 Divisions.