• Jeff Nygaard

Struggle Bus Update: Tier III Weekend Review

Heading into the second month of Junior hockey, there are still a high number of Tier III rosters that are less than full. For the weekend of Oct. 4-6 TJHP found 24 games in which a team participated with 15 or fewer skaters.

As discussed in past Struggle Bus articles, having 15 skaters for a single game, in and of itself, is not entirely problematic. Myriad issues arise when it's October and:

  1. We're a month out of most training camps so the original batch of players at each team have either signed or buggered off to another opportunity.

  2. The United States Hockey League (USHL) and North American Hockey League (NAHL) roster cut-downs season have taken place, which means the trickle down effect has now settled into the Tier III leagues (Read: There are not droves of players leaving the USHL and NAHL looking for Tier III opportunities).

  3. Injuries haven't started piling up for those players who are so unfortunate.

  4. Homesickness and players who see the writing on the wall have not yet gotten frustrated enough to bugger off.

All in all, having 15 skaters or fewer on a roster in the early season is not only financially draining but it will lead to forfeits and foldings for the teams who unfortunately suffer from situations three and four (above), which is why it is newsworthy in the Junior hockey community.

Since the last Struggle Bus article TJHP has still not heard from any leagues or organizations regarding roster size, with the exception of the Eastern Hockey League.

Of note from last week, the Connecticut Nighthawks, who have already missed a game due to lack of players, got back on the ice October 4 with 12 skaters and lost a 8-3 decision at the Connecticut Jr. Rangers. The Valley Jr. Warriors of the Eastern Hockey League Premier division, which has played with fewer than the USA Hockey-mandated 11 skaters this season, suited up 15 skaters for its Oct. 6 victory over the Walpole Express.

The emerging suspects are the Detroit Fighting Irish of the USPHL Premier, which lost a 12-2 decision at home vs. the Metro Jets on Oct. 4 with 12 skaters, but stormed back the next night with a 3-2 victory over the Jets with only nine skaters. The USPHL Premier's Jersey Shore Whalers were outscored 17-3 in a pair of losses October 5 and 6 at Buffalo while suiting up 12 and 11 skaters, respectively. Staying in the USPHL Premier the Midwest Blackbirds won two of three games at home over Motor City this weekend with 14 skaters suited up each night.

The Philadelphia Revolution of the EHLP used 11 skaters in a 13-3 win October 6 over the New Jersey Renegades, which speaks to a separate issue of competitiveness when 11 skaters can donkey stomp a competitor.

The Skylands Kings of the NA3HL claimed a 7-2 victory over the Texas RoadRunners on Oct. 6 despite dressing 13 skaters. The Kings play today and tomorrow in the NA3HL East Showcase in Attleboro, Mass.

Below is a list of all the games from this past weekend in which teams dropped the puck with 15 or fewer skaters.

USPHL Premier October 4 – Connecticut Nighthawks 12 skaters (L 3-8 at Connecticut Jr. Rangers)

October 4 – Detroit Fighting Irish 12 skaters (L 2-12 vs. Metro Jets)

October 4 – Midwest Blackbirds 14 skaters (L 0-5 vs. Motor City)

October 4 – Steele County Blades 15 skaters (L 4-8 at Minnesota Blue Ox)

October 5 – Detroit Fighting Irish 9 skaters (W 3-2 at Metro Jets)

October 5 – Midwest Blackbirds 14 skaters (W 6-3 vs. Motor City)

October 5 -- Jersey Shore Whalers 12 skaters (L 1-6 at Buffalo)

October 6 – Jersey Shore Whalers 11 skaters (L 2-11 at Buffalo)

October 6 – Midwest Blackbirds 14 skaters (W 5-2 vs. Motor City)




October 4 – Cold Lake Hornets 15 skaters (L 2-9 at Barrhead Bombers)

October 5 – Cold Lake Hornets 15 skaters (L 2-10 at Barrhead Bombers)


October 5 – Junior Flyers 15 skaters (L 2-5 vs. CT Roughriders)

October 6 – NY Applecore 15 skaters (L 4-2 vs. Team Maryland)

EHL Premier

October 6 – Valley Jr. Warriors and Walpole EHLP both 15 skaters (W 3-2 at Walpole)

October 6 – Philadelphia Revolution 11 skaters (W 13-3 vs. NJ Renegades)

October 5 – Railers Jr. Hockey Club 15 skaters (L 1-9 vs. Connecticut Chiefs)


October 4 – Missoula Bruins 14 skaters and Yellowstone Quake 15 skaters (Bruins W 5-2)

October 4 – Sheridan Hawks 15 skaters (W 6-1 vs. Great Falls Americans)

October 4 – Milwaukee Power 15 skaters (L 3-7 vs. Alexandria Blizzard)

October 4 – Maine Wild 15 skaters (L 1-6 at New England Knights)

October 5 – Wausau RiverWolves 15 skaters (L 1-5 at Breezy Point NorthStars)

October 5 – Milwaukee Power 15 skaters (L 1-8 vs. Alexandria Blizzard)

October 5 – Missoula Bruins 15 skaters and Yellowstone Quake 15 skaters (Quake W 3-1)

October 6 – Maine Wild 15 skaters and Long Beach Sharks 15 skaters (Sharks win 4-1)

October 6 – Skylands Kings 13 skaters at Texas RoadRunners (W 7-2)

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