Regular season comes to a close, playoffs are next
The 2011-12 North American Prospects Hockey League (PHL) regular season came to a close this past weekend with a four-day long event held at the Troy Sports Center in Troy, Michigan. All 18U, 16U teams competed at the event, as well as four eastern 14U teams. The event marked the last one for the regular season before all three divisions compete in next month’s PHL Championship Tournament Series for the right to be crowned playoff champions.
The Pittsburgh Viper Stars took home the PHL’s 18U regular season crown with an overall record of 19-2-1 and 39 points. That was six better than the Pikes Peak Miners, who finished in 2nd place with 33 points. The California Titans, who finished with a 3-0-1 record in Troy this past weekend, finished 3rd overall with 32 points.
The other five teams to advance to the 18U Gold Championship Tournament Series are: the Lansing Capitals (4th place, 31 points), the Wenatchee Wild (5th place, 29 points), the Detroit Falcons (6th place, 28 points), the Phoenix Firebirds (7th place, 28 points) and Orange County Hockey Club (8th place, 28 points). Detroit beat both Phoenix and Orange County, thus earning the 6th spot, while Phoenix and Orange County split their games during the regular season, but the Firebirds finished with a better head-to-head goal differential, earning the 7th position.
The remaining nine teams in the 18U division will play in the Silver Consolation Series, including the 9th place Carolina Jr. Hurricanes, who won their last five games, including all four in Troy this past weekend, as they narrowly missed out on the top 8.
The 18U regular season scoring title went to Pikes Peak forward Alec Butcher, who led the 18U division in points (42) and goals (19). Butcher has signed an NAHL tender to play for the Kenai River Brown Bears. Mathew Armenti took home the scoring title for 18U defensemen with 25 points. Armenti has signed an NAHL tender to play for the Fairbanks Ice Dogs. Orange County’s Arthur Brey took home the 18U goaltending title, as he led the division and the PHL in lowest goals against average (1.46) and save percentage (94.0%).
The San Jose Jr. Sharks took home the regular season crown in the 16U division, posting an impressive 15-1-2 record and 32 points during the regular season, which included a 3-0-1 record in Michigan this past weekend. The Indiana Jr. Ice, who have won seven straight PHL games, including all four in Troy, finished two points behind San Jose with 30 points. The Omaha AAA Lancers took home 3rd place with 29 points, including winning all four of their games in Troy.
The other five teams to advance the 16U Gold Championship Tournament Series are: the New Jersey Jr. Titans (4th place, 28 points), Orange County Hockey Club (5th place, 27 points), the Pittsburgh Viper Stars (6th place, 26 points), the Las Vegas Storm (7th place, 24 points) and the Texas Tornado (8th place, 20 points).
The remaining 10 teams in the 18U division will play in the Silver Consolation Series, including the 10th place Pikes Peak Miners, who won last year’s 16U playoff championship.
The overall PHL and 16U regular season scoring title went to Omaha AAA Lancers forward Chris Wilkie, who led the PHL and the 16U division in points (48), goals (22) and assists (26). Wilkie announced earlier this month that he committed to play college hockey for NCAA Division I University of North Dakota. Tommy Panico from the New Jersey Jr. Titans led all 16U defensemen in scoring with 26 points in 18 games played. The 16U goaltending title went to Omaha’s Jason Pawloski, who led the 16U division in goals against average (1.75) and tied for the division’s best save percentage (93.0%) with San Jose’s Geoffrey Grimm.
The 14U division also concluded its regular season in Troy. All five teams in that bracket advance to the Gold Championship Tournament Series.
The St. Louis Selects won the regular season title with 22 points and an 11-3-0 record. The Selects have won their last eight games in a row on their way to the regular season crown. They are followed by the California Titans (2nd place, 15 points), the San Jose Jr. Sharks (3rd place, 14 points), the Texas Tornado (4th place, 4 points) and the West Michigan Hounds (5th place, 3 points). All five teams will play one another in a round-robin format at the PHL Championship series with the top two teams advancing to the Championship game.
The 14U division scoring title went to St. Louis Selects forward John Moeller, who led the division in goals (15) and points (25). On the defensive side, TJ Friedman also from the Selects had the most points by a defenseman with 12. St. Louis goaltender Ellis Burgett made it a clean sweep for the Selects in the player category by leading the division in save percentage (91.2%) and was the active leader in goals against average (2.00)
The Championship Tournament Series is scheduled for February 17-20 at the Troy Sports Center. The event will precede and coincide with the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament and the 3HL East Showcase, which will also take place in the same venue.