#USPHLNationals Premier Team Preview: Minnesota Squatch 

By Joshua Boyd / USPHLPremier.com 


Two years into their existence, and they’re into Nationals. The Minnesota Squatch are excited to make their debut after two very strong seasons since joining the league in 2022. 

At .736 over two seasons, the Squatch are seventh among non-original 2017-18 teams in winning percentage.

“We are very excited to be at Nationals playing against the top teams in the country. Most of our players have never had an opportunity to play in an event like this so it will be fun to see how we adapt to the hype and atmosphere,” said Owner/GM/Head Coach Chic Pojar. “Our group has been extremely cohesive throughout the playoffs. We had some close games and had to come from behind on multiple occasions.”

The Squatch made it to the Nationals after winning one of the longest games of the second round of playoffs two weekends ago. They went to double overtime against the Hudson Havoc before winning 7-6 off a goal by Jay Ellingson, with his sixth of the postseason. This came after an earlier 4-3 overtime win by the Havoc on March 9. The Squatch started the series with a 6-3 win.

“I thought we played really well at times in the final round. We are a high-risk type of team, and that’s by design. We allow our players to be creative and make plays which sometimes gets us in trouble,” said Pojar. “If we can minimize the mental errors, I believe we have enough skill to surprise some teams. Of course, solid goaltending and team defense will be paramount.”

The high-risk mentality has paid off the last couple years, as the Squatch are typically a high-offense team. They averaged 5.55 goals per game, good for seventh in the Premier this year. They also fire 48.66 shots on goal, which ranks fourth in the league. Their season average of 5.55 is extremely close to their two-year goals per game average of 5.52. So, as long as they can keep the puck away from opponents (who scored 3.00 goals against them per game in the regular season), their firewagon brand of hockey could pay some dividends. However, the Nationals bring a vast improvement in terms of defenses that teams typically face during the regular season. 

“We are sticking with our normal practice routine heading into the tournament.  We tell our boys, now is not the time to take the foot off the gas,” said Pojar. 

Not surprisingly, the Squatch have three players in the top 10 of postseason scoring so far, as Cannon Bonifay and Ellingson are tied at third with 10 points apiece, and Alec Bjork is in a six-way tie for seventh with nine points. Avery Smith has played every game for the Squatch and gone 4-0-1, while stopping 160 of 179 shots so far. 

The Squatch will first take on the host Utica Jr. Comets on Thursday night at 7:45 p.m, these two teams meeting for the first time ever. 

Game 2 of the seeding round puts them up against the Metro Jets, a team that is also known for high-octane offense – and a near-suffocating defense. Suffice it to say their first game against Metro this year during the USPHL Detroit Showcase didn’t go well for the Squatch and matched the characterization of the Jets in that last sentence. 

Against other Nationals teams, the Squatch were 2-2 against fellow Midwest West representatives the Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings, and they took regulation losses against the Fort Wayne Spacemen and Florida Eels. 

“I think there’s a lot of really good teams at this year’s event. We are looking forward to playing the host team Utica on Thursday night. Of course, the re-match with Metro on Friday will be exciting,” said Pojar. “For the most part, as long as we play our game, we’re tough to play against.”