By Jim den Hollander / USPHLPremier.com
Seed: Midwest West #2
Seeding Round Schedule
All Games At Utica University Nexus Center, Utica, N.Y.
Day 1: Thursday, March 23, vs. Charlotte Rush, 12:30 p.m. EST
Day 2: Friday, March 24, vs. Mountain #1 Seed (TBD), 10 a.m. EST
The Minnesota Moose realized a goal set at the end of last season when the team punched its ticket to the USPHL Nationals last weekend.
The third seeded Moose rallied back after dropping their series opener against the second seeded Minnesota Squatch in Elk River, Minn.
“We were happy with the way the series finished,” said Head Coach Jon Jonasson in an e-mail interview. “After dropping Game 1, it woke our team up to play Moose hockey. The Squatch was a great test of us heading to Nationals. They had an outstanding first season in the USPHL Premier.”
For the coach and several returners, getting to Nationals has been on their mind since a team trend ended last spring. The Moose had qualified for Nationals every season between the inaugural USPHL Premier campaign in 2017-18 through 2020-21. They only missed it once, last season. They have their sights set higher this time around.
“We are excited to return to Nationals this year in Utica,” said Jonasson. “Last year was the first year since we started the program that we didn’t make it. All season, the message in the locker room is that we will return to Nationals, and not just to make the trip, but to win it. It will be a long road to get to the championship game in Utica, but we believe we are conditioned and prepared for it.”
The team will find out immediately how it stacks up with seeding round games scheduled against perennial championship favorite Charlotte Rush and either the Utah Outliers or Ogden Mustangs, based on who wins this weekend’s Mountain Division Championship series – the winner claims the No. 1 seed in that division, though both teams are already Nationals-bound.
The Moose enters the National tournament with a stacked lineup featuring a powerful offensive unit including forwards Teodor Benno Vaage, John Becker and Ryan Mulrenin along with defenders Logan Lake and Jared Topil and reliable standout goaltending from Bridger Fixmer. All of these players carried part of the load to get through playoff sets against the Steele County Blades and Squatch.
The Moose vs. Squatch series matched two of the league’s most explosive offensive squads. It’s good to know your team can come up with a big goal when needed, but Jonasson and the Moose are no slouches on defense either. That is an area they will work on though heading to the big tournament.
“We will spend the next week dialing in our systems and tightening up in our defensive zone,” said Jonasson.
As they say in Moose Nation, #AntlersUp!