Showing posts with label Granite City Lumberjacks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Granite City Lumberjacks. Show all posts

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Granite City head coach Willner wins 300th game

Press Release

The Granite City Lumberjacks of the NA3HL are pleased to report that with their 3-2 win over the Minnesota Flying Aces back on December 6th, head coach Brad Willner won his 300th career game.
Willner is in his fourth year with the Granite City Lumberjacks hockey program.  In his first three seasons, the Lumberjacks have won two league championships and Willner was named NA3HL General Manager of the Year in 2012. He is also a member of the NA3HL Competition and Rules Committee.
Prior to joining the Lumberjacks, Willner was the Head Coach and General Manager of the Alexandria Blizzard of the North American Hockey League (NAHL) for four seasons (2005-09).  While there, he led the Blizzard to four straight playoff appearances and captured the Central Division Playoff Championship and earned a spot at the Robertson Cup Championship during the 2007-08 season.  During his tenure, Willner helped promote 38 players onto the college hockey scene. (10 Division I, 28 Division III).
Before heading up Alexandria, Willner spent five seasons with St. Cloud State University (2000-05), where he served as an assistant coach in charge of academics, NCAA team compliance, team travel, video breakdown, while helping in recruiting and on and off ice instruction.
Willner has also coached in seven USA Hockey Select Festivals and assisted with the US Under 17 Team in Huttwil, Switzerland, which won the Gold at the Five Nations Tournament in August of 2005.
The NA3HL congratulates Willner on this coaching milestone.

 (Nathan can be reached at

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Lumberjacks forward Schneider signs NAHL tender

Press Release

The Granite City Lumberjacks, proud members of the NA3HL, are pleased to announce that forward Hunter Schneider, 18, has signed an NAHL tender with the Janesville Jets.  The Jets are members of the NAHL’s North Division.

The native of Willmar, Minnesota joined the Lumberjacks in late February this past season after completing his high school career.  In the eight regular season games he played with Granite City, he recorded at least a point in all eight games and had 11 points (7 goals, 4 assists) overall.
His best stretch of games came in early March when he was honored as the NA3HL’s #2 star of the week on March 5th.  In four games during the week, Schneider (5’9/150) had seven points, including five goals.  He has scored at least a goal in all five games played to date with the Lumberjacks and has a total of eight points.  

“For a kid that was right out of high school, Hunter really fit in well with our team and has a great skill set,” said Granite City head coach Brad Willner.  “He has brought a new, youthful energy back to the team, which is exactly what we needed at that time of year.  He is a shifty forward, has a lot of quickness and has a lot of confidence for young kid.”

 (Nathan can be reached at

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

NA3HL Silver Cup Championship Tournament field is set

Press Release

After an exciting weekend of playoff hockey, the field is set for the North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL) Silver Cup Championship Tournament.  The NA3HL Silver Cup Championship will feature six teams and be played at the Fox Valley Ice Arena, Geneva, Illinois, from March 27-30. 

The six teams that have won their Division Semi-Finals series and advanced to the Silver Cup are: St. Louis Jr. Blues, North Iowa Bulls, Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks, Granite City Lumberjacks, Flint Jr. Generals and the Peoria Mustangs.  St. Louis, Granite City and Flint all appeared in the tournament last season with Granite City winning the 2012 Silver Cup Championship.

All event information including: schedule, ticket information, scouting information, venue, hotels, car rentals and more can be found on the NA3HL Silver Cup website at:

For those that can’t make it to the event, all Silver Cup Tournament games will be broadcast live on FASTHockey.

The teams will be placed in two, three-team pools. Teams will be seeded according to their finish in the NA3HL regular season standings. A round-robin format will be used, with the teams playing the other two teams within their pool. The top team in each pool after round robin competition will advance on to play for the Championship. The bottom four teams at the conclusion of round robin play will be eliminated from the tournament. In the event of a tie after round-robin play, a tiebreaking procedure adopted in the rules and regulations shall be used to break the tie.

Pool A: #1 St. Louis Jr. Blues, #3 Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks, #6 Peoria Mustangs

Pool B: #2 North Iowa Bulls, #4 Granite City Lumberjacks, #5 Flint Jr. Generals

2013 Silver Cup Schedule

Wed, March 27: St. Louis vs. Peoria, 5:00pm; North Iowa vs. Flint, 8:00pm

Thu, March 28: Cleveland vs. Peoria, 2:00pm; Granite City vs. Flint, 5:00pm

Fri, March 29: St. Louis vs. Cleveland, 3:00pm; North Iowa vs. Granite City, 6:00pm

Sat, March 30: Championship, Pool A winner vs. Pool B winner. 1:00pm

(Nathan can be reached at

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Granite City's Otto signs NAHL tender

Press Release

The Granite City Lumberjacks, proud members of the North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL), are pleased to announce that forward Drew Otto has signed an NAHL tender with the Coulee Region Chill.  Coulee Region is in the Central Division of the NAHL.

Otto, 19, is currently the leading scorer for the Lumberjacks this season.  The native of Menomonie, Wisconsin, has 47 points in 31 games with Granite City this season.  His hometown is less than two hours from Coulee Region.  Otto (5’11/180) began the season with Port Huron in the NAHL, appearing in two games.

Back in November, Otto was named the NA3HL’s Forward of the Month.  In his 31 games played to date, Otto has failed to register a point in just four of them, and includes 13 multi-point games.  During November, no player in the NA3HL had more points during the month than Otto.  He racked up an NA3HL-high 17 points (7 goals, 10 assists) in just nine games played during the month as the Lumberjacks put together a 6-2-1 record.

“Because of our relationship with the NAHL, Drew was able to skate with a few teams and was presented a great opportunity to sign with the Chill.  They are getting a great person and a great player.  Drew comes to the rink every day ready to work hard,” said Granite City head coach Brad Willner.  “He is consistently is one of the hardest workers we have and his success is a product of some of that.  He also has a knack of finding the open man and when his line is playing well, they are hard to keep off the scoreboard.

 (Nathan can be reached at

Friday, January 11, 2013

Tomahawks Make Mid-Season Roster Moves

Press Release

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – Johnstown Tomahawks General Manager Rick Boyd announced today the team has completed two trades and temporarily called up one player from the North American Tier III Hockey League’s Granite City Lumberjacks.

On Jan. 9, the Tomahawks acquired defenseman Mitch Hall from the Jamestown Ironmen in exchange for a future draft pick. The St. Cloud, MN native had a +6 rating in 22 games with the Ironmen.

The following day, Johnstown traded defenseman Kristaps Bazevics to the Wichita Falls Wildcats for Corey Schafer. Schafer, an 18-year-old forward who previously played in the American West Hockey League, is a native of Johnstown. He played 19 games and had three assists with the Wildcats this season.

In addition, Dakoda Menslage has been added to the Tomahawks roster on a temporary basis. The 17-year-old defenseman from Orleans, Mass. previously signed with Johnstown as a tender and will play fulltime with the team next season. Menslage had nine assists and 11 points (2-9-11) and a +15 rating with the Lumberjacks.

 (Nathan can be reached at

Sunday, July 29, 2012

McPhail named to USA Developmental Sled Team

Press Release

Ezra McPhail, a 20-year-old forward from Antigo, Wis., suffered an incomplete spinal cord injury playing in a game for the Granite City Lumberjacks at the 3HL Showcase on Dec. 6 in Darien, Ill.

The next step in his hockey career has taken an uplifting and dramatic turn as USA Hockey announced the players selected for the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team and the U.S. National Development Sled Hockey Team. McPhail, who began playing sled hockey in the Spring, was named to the U.S. National Development Sled Hockey Team.  All players that participated in the Sled Select Camp and the National Team try-outs should be congratulated as this year was one of the toughest for the coaching staff to make their selections.
He learned how to play sled hockey in March, which provides opportunities for people with disabilities to participate in hockey.  Players sit in sleds and there are two sticks for each player instead of one and the sticks have metal picks on the butt end for players to propel themselves in sled hockey.

“I’m still learning,” McPhail said. “I started playing as soon as I could with the Minnesota Northern team, which is made up of adults 18 and older. Some of the players have been playing for five years and they’re teach me a lot.  “I’ve learned a lot about turning and stopping."

But McPhail said that playing with the Northern is a great experience.  “I love it,” said McPhail,  “I haven’t had so much fun skating since (Granite City) won the Bush Cup (last season).  “It was just a blast.”

After he was injured, McPhail was in a Chicago hospital before transferring to Sister Kenny Rehabilitation Institute in Minneapolis. McPhail, whose dream was to play college hockey, spent about 3 1/2 weeks there as he worked on learning to walk again.

To see the entire roster, click here.

(Nathan can be reached at

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Granite City Lumberjacks crowned NA3HL Champions

Press Release

The Granite City Lumberjacks were crowned the National Champions of the North American 3 Hockey League (3HL) on Monday afternoon at the Fox Valley Ice Arena in Geneva, Illinois as they defeated the St. Louis Jr. Blues, 2-1 to win the inaugural 3HL Silver Cup. “I think the team had tremendous focus today and pulled together all tournament long to get the job done,” said Lumberjacks head coach Brad Willner.  “Their injured teammate Ezra McPhail was in the back of their mind and in the end I knew they wanted to win it for him.”

Granite City opened the scoring less than two minutes into the 1st period as defenseman Kyle Castle’s shot found its way through traffic and in behind St. Louis goaltender Mitch Fernsler for the 1-0 lead.  Blayne Ellson picked up the lone assist on the goal.  Granite City managed to create most the offense in the opening period, outshooting the Jr. Blues 10-6 in the opening frame.  However, the majority of the Jr. Blues offense came in the late stages of the period, with Granite City goaltender Matt Grove having to make two important saves as the buzzer sounded.
St. Louis had an early power play in the 2nd period, but could not convert.  Two minutes later, Granite City had a power play opportunity of their own, but Mitch Fernsler kept the Jr. Blues in the game with several big saves.  Just over midway through the period, Granite City would strike for their second goal of the game.  A pass to the point from Riley Bengston, set-up a shot from defenseman Isaac Hoagland from the blueline, which was redirected in front by Trevor Ness and under the left leg pad of Fernsler for a 2-0 Lumberjacks lead.

The Jr. Blues struggled to find much offense in the 3rd period.  Each team had a power play they failed to convert on.  Just when Granite City thought about their championship dreams, the Jr. Blues put everything on hold with their first goal of the game.  Trace Jablin streaked down the left side and lifted a shot over the shoulder of Matt Grove to bring the Jr. Blues to within a goal at 2-1.  Robert Hintz and Joe Bowler assisted on the goal.  The goal came with just over two minutes remaining in the game.  St. Louis won the face-off and went down on the attack again, only to hit the post as the narrowly missed a chance to tie.  In the dying seconds with Fernsler out of the net, the Jr. Blues could not get a quality scoring chance on goal.  With :08 seconds remaining a face-off in the Granite City end was chipped out of the zone and the celebration was on for the Lumberjacks.  Lumberjacks goaltender Matt Grove finished with 19 saves in the win, while Mitch Fernsler played great in the loss, making 32 saves.


(Nathan can be reached at

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Field set for 3HL Championship Tournament in Chicago

Press Release

The North American 3 Hockey League (3HL) playoffs will come to a conclusion this weekend as the league hosts its annual 3HL Championship Tournament at the Fox Valley Ice Arena in Geneva, Illinois from March 30th – April 2nd.

Four teams have advanced to the 3HL Championship Tournament: Flint Jr. Generals (East Division), Granite City Lumberjacks (West Division), St. Louis Jr. Blues (Central Division), Toledo Cherokee (North Division). All four not only won their respective divisional regular season titles, but also their playoff divisional titles as well, marking the first time in 3HL history the four #1 seeds from each division advanced to the 3HL Championship Tournament. The teams will be seeded 1-4 based upon their regular season records because all were crowned as divisional champions.

The weekend will begin on Thursday, March 29th with the 3HL Champions dinner for all four teams. During the event, the 3HL will hand out their league awards for the 2011-12 season and the results will be posted exclusively on later that evening.

Competition begins the next day on Friday, March 30th. All four teams will play one another in a round-robin format with the top two teams advancing to the 3HL Championship game on Monday, April 2nd. Here is a look at the Championship schedule:

Friday, March 30th
4:30pm - #3 St. Louis vs. #2 Granite City
7:30pm - #4 Toledo vs. #1 Flint

Saturday, March 31st
4:30pm - #4 Toledo vs. #2 Granite City
7:30pm - #3 St. Louis vs. #1 Flint

Sunday, April 1st
2:30pm - #4 Toledo vs. #3 St. Louis
5:30pm - #2 Granite City vs. #1 Flint

Monday, April 2nd
12:30pm – 3HL National Championship Game

Tickets for the 3HL Championship Tournament will be on sale at the Fox Valley Ice Arena beginning Friday, March 30th. Tournament and daily passes will be available for purchase. Tournament and daily passes for scouts will also be for sale. All seven games of the 3HL Championship Tournament can also be viewed live on FASTHockey, the official broadcast provider of the 3HL.

For complete tournament information including schedule, format and statistics, visit

Here is a look the the four teams that will compete for the 3HL Championship:

East Division Champion: Flint Jr. Generals (35-10-3, 73 pts.)
Division Semi-Finals: Defeated the Pittsburgh Jr. Penguins, 2-0
Division Finals: Defeated the Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks, 2-0
The Jr. Generals swept both the East Division Semi-Finals against Pittsburgh and the East Division Finals against Cleveland to arrive at the 3HL Championship Tournament. They are the only team remaining in the 3HL playoffs who has yet to suffer a loss. The Jr. Generals are led by goaltender Ben Myers, who was one of only two goalies in the league this season to win the Brian’s Goalie of the Month award. Out of the top 10 scorers in the 3HL during the regular season, Flint had three of them… Richard Jansson (67 pts.), Andy Lay (65 pts.) and Edward Osowski (62 pts.). Meanwhile, Cody Damon leads the team in playoff scoring with seven points so far this post-season.
2011-12 record vs. Granite City: 1-0-0
2011-12 record vs. St. Louis: 0-0-0
2011-12 record vs. Toledo: 2-3-0

West Division Champion: Granite City Lumberjacks (33-11-4, 70 pts.)
Division Semi-Finals: Defeated the Minnesota Flying Aces, 2-0
Division Finals: Defeates the North Iowa Bulls, 2-1
The Granite City Lumberjacks moved through their semi-final round with a sweep of Minnesota, but ran into a determined North Iowa Bulls team in the West Division Finals. All three games were decided by a goal and two went to overtime, but the Lumberjacks prevailed. The key to Granite City’s success has been goaltender Matt Grove, who statistically, was the league’s top goaltender this season and one of only two goalies to win the Brian’s Goalie of the Month award this season. Peter Lindblad led he league in game-winning goals and finished tied for 2nd in 3HL scoring this season, while defenseman Nick Zierden brings a solid, physical presence along the blueline. Riley Bengston leads the Lumberjacks in playoff scoring with five points in five games.
2011-12 record vs. Flint: 0-0-1
2011-12 record vs. St. Louis: 2-3-0
2011-12 record vs. Toledo: 0-0-0

Central Division Champion: St. Louis Jr. Blues (31-12-5, 67 pts.)
Division Semi-Finals: Defeated the Quad City Jr. Flames, 2-1
Division Finals: Defeated the Peoria Mustangs, 2-1
The Jr. Blues were pushed to the brink in both playoff series leading up the 3HL Championship, but responded with two big Game 3 wins, letting everyone know that when the pressure is on the team is quick to respond. Johnny Mueller leads the 3HL in playoff scoring with 10 points in six games and defenseman Joe Bowler is one of the best set-up men in the league. On the offensive side, Daniel Rosse is capable of putting up big points and goals, as he led the Jr. Blues in both goals and assists this season. However, the Jr. Blues success in the 3HL Championship may hinge on the play of goaltender Mitch Fernsler. He has been spectacular in the 3HL playoffs, including starting and winning both Game 3’s, in which he has allowed just one goal in 47 shots. His 1.23 goals against average in the playoffs ranks 2nd.
2011-12 record vs. Flint: 0-0-0
2011-12 record vs. Granite City: 3-2-0
2011-12 record vs. Toledo: 1-0-0

North Division Champion: Toledo Cherokee (31-15-2, 64 pts.)
Division Semi-Finals: Defeated the Battle Creek Jr. Revolution, 2-0
Division Finals: Defeated the Queen City Steam, 2-1
After cruising through the division semi-finals against Battle Creek, the Toledo Cherokee found themselves in a dog fight in the division finals against the Queen City Steam. The Cherokee would win Games 2 and 3 to advance to the 3HL Championship, showing their medal in Game 3 with a come-from-behind win that included four goals in the 3rd period. Scoring three of those goals was Mike Baker, who leads the 3HL in playoff goals with six in five games played. If there is a strong point for the Cherokee in the playoffs to this point, it has been their offense, which is the best in the 3HL playoffs thus far. Toledo is averaging over 4 ½ goals per game and over 50 shots on goal per game during the playoffs. They are also allowing the fewest shots on goal against during the playoffs, which is a recipe for success. Ryan Kelly and Christos Papaioannou are also helping the offense with some big numbers. With goalies Austyn Roudebush and Lukas Gavalier splitting time and games to this point in the playoffs, it will be interesting to see who gets the start come tournament time.
2011-12 record vs. Flint: 3-2-0
2011-12 record vs. Granite City: 0-0-0
2011-12 record vs. St. Louis: 0-1-0

(Nathan can be reached at

Monday, January 30, 2012

Two more 3HL players sign NAHL tenders

Press Release

Two more NA3HL players have signed tenders to play in the North American Hockey League (NAHL) next season.

The Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks of the 3HL are pleased to announce the signing goaltender L.J. Dvorak to a tender with the Port Huron Fighting Falcons of the North American Hockey League (NAHL) for the 2012-13 Season. This marks the second player from the Jacks to move on from the 3HL to the NAHL this season. L.J. currently has 2.30 goals against average and a save percentage of .922. The 6’3” goaltender hails from Bismarck, North Dakota.

When asked about L.J and his future in the sport, Head Coach Bob Jacobson said, "Since he (Dvorak) arrived in Cleveland this past August he has been consistent in his work habits. The type of competitor he is will help make him a great goaltender in the years to come and a great addition to Port Huron. One of the major things that stand out to our staff is his attention to detail. He gets very upset when he gives up a goal in practice. This shows he is really passionate about his craft and performance. Down the stretch we will need our goaltending to remain strong. We are confident L.J. will continue to perform at a high level."

Dvorak recently went up and skated with the Fighting Falcons, who are in 1st place this season in the NAHL’s North Division. When asked about their choice to tender Dvorak, head coach Bill Warren of Port Huron said, “LJ was a player that we as a staff in Port Huron first saw at our final invite only camp in July. He was very close to making our team for this season. We have continued monitored his development this year with Cleveland. We feel he is a player that will help us continue the growth of our program here in Port Huron and we can help him achieve his goals in the sport of hockey."

Meanwhile, the Granite City Lumberjacks of the 3HL are pleased to announce that forward Zac Sikich has signed a tender with the NAHL’s Austin Bruins to play in the 2012-13 season. Sikich, 18, is currently 4th on the team in scoring with 29 points (12 goals, 17 assists) in 36 games played.

The native of Oak Park, California, began the season scoring 10 points in his first 8 games and never looked back from there. He is tied for 3rd on the team with three game-winning goals. His four point effort in a win over Michigan at the 3HL Showcase back on December 4th was the validation that the Austin Bruins and head coach Chris Tok needed.

The 5’11/175 lbs. forward is in his second year with Granite City. “Zac has developed at a very good pace during his time here with Granite City,” said Lumberjacks head coach Brad Willner. “I think Austin is going to be very pleased with Zac next season because he has a great work ethic and understands how to create offense, especially for his linemates.”

(Nathan can be reached at

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Three Minnesota memberships approved

Press Release

The North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL) has announced that its Board of Governors has accepted the membership applications of three organizations.

The Granite City Lumberjacks (Sauk Rapids, Minn.), Minnesota Flying Aces (Little Falls, Minn.) and a team from Vadnais Heights, Minn., will begin play next season.

“We’re excited to expand our footprint into the Upper Midwest,” said NA3HL president Mark Frankenfeld. “Not only is this a great avenue to strengthen our relationships with the youth affiliates in the region, it’s an ideal opportunity to provide the best Tier III Junior A experience for student-athletes moving on after their high school careers.”

During their four years or existence, the Lumberjacks, who play out of Sports Arena East and are led by head coach and general manager Brad Willner, have made two USA Hockey National Tournament appearances (2009 and 2011) while moving more than a dozen players onto the NCAA ranks and higher levels of junior hockey.

“We’re excited to be a part of the NA3HL and begin working with the other teams in the league,” said Willner. “The Showcases and other exposure events the NA3HL is a part of will be great for our players; they’re excited as well."

The Flying Aces play out of Exchange Arena and will be led behind the bench by Craig Larson. In four seasons, the Aces, who are owned by John and Deb Holthaus, have witnessed over a dozen of their players move on to the collegiate level with two more playing professionally in Sweden.

“The NA3HL has a proven development model which will give players the opportunity to excel within our program and move on to a higher level,” said Deb Holthaus, who also serves as the team’s general manager. “This move is about the players and our ability as an organization to offer a higher level of competition and professionalism. We’re thrilled with this opportunity.”

The new Vadnais Heights-based team, which is driven by a venture group that’s assembled a host of experienced trainers who pride themselves on advancing athletes to the collegiate and professional ranks, will play out of the brand-new Vadnais Sports Center, a state-of-the art facility situated in the Twin Cities which includes the tradition-rich hockey suburbs of White Bear Lake, North St. Paul, Forest Lake, Roseville and Moundsview.

Frankenfeld is confident each of the three teams will bolster the NA3HL’s already-solid reputation across the U.S. hockey landscape.

“Given these programs’ professionalism and proven track record for development, coupled with the NA3HL’s highly-scouted events menu that’s unmatched in the Tier III A circles, they’re certain to help open more doors for student-athletes in Minnesota and the surrounding areas as they pursue their goals on the ice and in the classroom,” he said.

Twelve teams from six states (Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and Pennsylvania) competed in the NA3HL during its inaugural 2010-11 season.

(Nathan can be reached at