Xpress Look To Impress At Midseason Tournament

With the North American Tier III Hockey League Showcase Tournament set to kick off this morning at the Schwan Super Rink in Blaine, Minnesota, the Southern Tier Xpress will enter action playing arguably some of their best hockey of the season.

In fact, Southern Tier is coming off of a win last weekend against the Roc City Royals and has compiled an overall record of 5-4-1 in its last 10 games.

At around the midway point of the 2016-17 season, the Xpress hold an overall record of 9-11-2 and have accumulated 20 points, which is good for fifth place in the East Division.

Southern Tier finds itself behind the first-place Metro Jets (50 points), the Pittsburgh Vengeance (34 points), the West Michigan Wolves (27 points) and the Toledo Cherokee (24 points).

“The team is figuring out how to put forth a consistent effort game after game,” Xpress assistant coach Travis Sanders said. “Early in the season, we had trouble stringing back-to-back games together with a solid performance. With the team’s growth, we believe they are starting to figure it out.”

Cameron Trejchel is currently the team’s co-leader in points with 20 and has found the back of the net 10 times in addition to dishing out 10 assists.

Jacob St. Andre has also been a key cog in the Xpress’ success so far, as he has collected eight goals and handed out 12 assists.

Santeri Rajakallio (six goals, 10 assists), Hunter Kepple (six goals, 10 assists), Cameron Pries (five goals, 11 assists), Arttu Rajamaki (eight goals, seven assists), Luke Grossman (seven goals, seven assists), Matthew Crosby (five goals, seven assists), Tristan Mock (one goal, 10 assists), Joseph Gerace (six goals, four assists) and defenseman Bradley Delenko (three goals, seven assists) have all racked up 10 or more points on the season as well.

Along with Delenko, some of the other defensive anchors for the Xpress include Jacob Zwieg, Joshua Malin, Ty Rickabaugh and Grant Scharmer.

Hunter Kepple (62), Luke Grossman and the rest of the Southern Tier Xpress will kick off an important weekend today against the Willmar WarHawks at the NA3HL Showcase Tournament in Blaine, Minn. Photo by Chad Ecklof
Hunter Kepple (62), Luke Grossman and the rest of the Southern Tier Xpress will kick off an important weekend today against the Willmar WarHawks at the NA3HL Showcase Tournament in Blaine, Minn. Photo by Chad Ecklof

In net, Harrison Vangellow has played in a total of 15 games, has a goals against average of 3.90 and a save percentage of almost .890. Ryan Pascarella has played in 10 games between the pipes, has a 2.75 goals against average and has a save percentage of .923.

“I think all of our players have impressed us at different points this season” head coach Brian Ramm stressed. “Sticking with consistency, I feel like Cameron Trejchel (rookie), Luke Grossman (final year of eligibility), Grant Scharmer (final year of eligibility), and Rajakallio (Finnish import) have been our most consistent players in regards to their effort, drive, and compete level.”

According to the official NA3HL website, all 48 teams in the league will play three regular-season games at this weekend’s showcase.

“This is a big weekend for the team as we gear up for the second half of the year,” Sanders stated. “This weekend’s very important to everyone involved, from all of the owners, staff and players of the Xpress. The guys all are excited to finish up the first half of the season on a high note at the showcase and then continue home for the holidays.”

The Xpress will do battle with the Willmar WarHawks this morning, the Chicago Bulldogs on Saturday and the Louisiana Drillers on Sunday.

“I feel like this is the biggest opportunity these individuals will have all year,” Ramm emphasized. “They have an opportunity to play and perform in front of NAHL, NCAA, and ACHA scouts from all over the country. This is why they play this game, to attempt to reach the highest levels of the sport.”

Original article by Cody Crandall, The Post-Journal.