3View: Granite City Lumberjacks
August 24, 2019
The 3View series will feature an in-depth look into all NA3HL teams in preparation for the 2019-20 season, with two teams being highlighted daily, leading all the way up until the start of the regular season. 3View goes in-depth into each NA3HL team and will include interviews with all the head coaches in the NA3HL, as they provide fans with their expectations and outlook for the 2019-20 season, including taking a look at their potential roster and their strengths as a team for the upcoming season. It will also take a look back on the 2018-19 season and how each team fared and what they accomplished. Best of all, 3View will provide the fans of the NA3HL with an inside look at their favorite team and what to expect.
Granite City Lumberjacks
2018-19 Record: 37-8-2, 76 pts (1st in the West Division)
2019 Playoffs: Lost in Division Semi-Finals
Head Coach: Brad Willner
2019-20 Division: West
Topping the tough West Division after a 47-game slate is no easy task. Doing it in four consecutive seasons and boasting two league championships in the last five? Dynastic. But despite their consistent measure of success culminating in yet another regular-season division title, last season left the Lumberjacks wanting.
A surprising upset at the hands of the Alexandria Blizzard in the opening round of the playoffs derailed what could have been a championship season. Disappointment surely set in, but Head Coach Brad Willner wants to have his players re-focused and ready to take another division title — and then focus on what comes next.
“Our goal every year is to improve everyday and put ourselves in a good position to win the division,” he said.
Getting back to the top will be a difficult path for Granite City, with competitors North Iowa and Alexandria all gearing up to take their crown. But by placing a priority on play in their own zone this season, the Lumberjacks will look to play a more structured, defensive game in the upcoming campaign in hopes of bringing more consistency to their play.
“Team Defense — we feel that is the key to winning another Championship. We will need to work on this daily with all the new players joining us the year,” said Willner.
A strong start will be key for the Lumberjacks, who have the luxury of five straight home contests to kick off the campaign, and it will take the leaders of the team to step up and set the tone early.
“We tend to lean on our veteran payers early. We are expecting big seasons from Bailey Sommers, Blake Spetz, Noah Bissett and Jordan Drobinski up front. We are looking for Jack Flattum and Kearby Larson to lead us on the blue line,” said Willner.
And while the leaders will certainly headline the Granite City efforts this winter, an injection of youth in the roster could help produce on-ice results as well as higher numbers in the player advancement department.
“I feel we have a little younger team this year so I think that will help attract more attention from the NA,” said Willner, “We will continue to send players to practice with the NA teams that are close to us. It gives them an opportunity to sell themselves to the coaches at the Tier 2 level. As far as college advancements, we will use the relationships we have with many D3 schools to promote our players.”
Away from the rink, look for Lumberjacks in the community to continue making a difference for those around them.
“We enjoy getting out and involved in our community. We have plans with the local schools and the Boys and GirlsClub. Our players always enjoy working with the kids,” said Willner.
The West is always a tough mountain to climb, but the Lumberjacks have the talent and experience necessary to reach that summit for a fifth straight time.
Next up: Great Falls Americans