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
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.
Remember to follow the Generals on Facebook and Twitter throughout the postseason for updates, photos, videos and behind-the-scenes content.