NAHL | Bruins report today
Posted by: Feldman
Who's ready for some hockey?
Four months ago Wednesday, the Austin Bruins had their season ended in the North American Hockey League Central Division finals by the Bismarck Bobcats.
Tonight, the Bruins begin their quest to get back to the postseason and to defend their regular season division championship. The Bruins report for fall camp at about 5 p.m. today. They play host to the new Richfield-based Minnesota Magicians on Saturday in an exhibition game at 7 p.m. at Riverside Arena.
The regular season gets underway Sept. 18 at the Schwan Super Rink in Blaine with the four-day NAHL Showcase.
We'll dig more into the schedule and roster as the preseason progresses, but with the Bruins reporting today, let's take a quick glance at the team's strengths and where it has holes to fill:
Nick Lehr is back for his third season between the pipes. The 20-year-old from Roseville gives the Bruins' coaching staff some comfort, considering they have a lot of talent to replace on offense. Lehr has played 64 games in his Bruins career, posting a 2.49 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage. He was the team's No. 1 last season, going 29-10-6 (including postseason) with a 2.39 GAA and a .916 save pct. Justin Quale , who played for Tri-City in the USHL last season, will battle for playing time, too. Let's hope Quale gives Bs fans some highlights like this . Jason Pawloski, who showed flashes of becoming a star last year as a 16-year-old-turned-17 during the season, has moved on to Indiana of the USHL after recently committing to Minnesota State, Mankato .
The big loss on the blue line is Cody Dixon, who had 16-28—44 last season and was among the NAHL's top scoring defensemen all season. Dixon has moved on to NCAA Division III UMass-Boston this season. Veterans Josh Bretner(11-19—30) and Jake Arroyo(0-5—5) return, though Bretner has been listed as a forward in some preseason notes. New blueliners include Cory Dunn, one of the Bruins' tenders, who had 10 points in 31 games for Team Illinois in the U18 High Performance Hockey League; Tyler Jones, from Chicago Young America; Eli May, who played for Tri-City in the USHL last season; and RPI commit Charlie Manley, a left shot D from near Buffalo, N.Y., who played four games for Waterloo of the USHL last season.
This is where the Bruins will be searching for contributors. Jay Dickman(23-34—57) is back, the only one of the team's top six scorers to return this season. Gone are the franchise's all-time leader in points (Brandon Wahlin, 119 points) and goals scored (John Simonson, 52). Simonson is likely to play for Lincoln of the USHL this season; he was posted on their protected list that was released on Monday (thanks to Black And Blue, lincolnstarsblog.com for the update). AJ Reid(28-42—70) is off to play college hockey at Air Force, while CJ Smith(34-30—64) will play in the USHL for Muskegon. He is committed to UMass-Lowell, where he'll play with former Bruins d-man Christian Folin. In addition to Dickman, returning forwards include Kody Reuter, Rochester Century grad Drew Anderson, Austin Nelson, Scott Nelson(he'll start the season injured reserve) and Easton Viitala. Among the new forwards coming in is Dominik Florian, a tender who played high school hockey in Waukesha, Wis., last season. He's from the Czech Republic originally and produced 55 points in 27 games at Waukesha last season. Another young forward, who was also one of the Bruins' tenders this season, is Trey Dodd. He was one of a handful of 16-year-olds to play in the NA3HL last season, where he put up 34 points in 44 games for the St. Louis Jr. Blues. The team's top draft pick, Sam Kauppilafrom Chicago Mission U18, will be in camp. He played five games in the USHL last year.
We'll dig deeper into these players and more as the preseason moves along, but that's a little taste of where the Bruins are as camp opens today.
I'll be at Bruins practice tonight and have a story in Wednesday's Post-Bulletin. I'll link to it here when it hits PostBulletin.com.
Let me know, Bruins fans, what more would you like to see in our Bruins coverage this season? We'll get to as many games as we feasibly can, and I intend to write more profile-type stories on their players than I did a year ago. But, if you'd like to see more blogs, videos, different types of stories, let me know. Leave a comment here or drop me an email at email@example.com.