The Junior hockey season is underway around North America including the five Tier II and eight Tier III Minnesota-based teams.
Two teams compete under both the USA Hockey banner and Hockey Canada in the Superior International Junior Hockey League. Based in Hoyt Lakes, the Minnesota Iron Rangers (2-8-0-0) are off to a slow start after a coaching change this summer. The Iron Rangers currently find themselves looking up the six-team SIJHL standings.
The newest member of the SIJHL is the Thief River Falls Norskies (4-6-0-1), who opened their season with a eight-game road trip. The team played at Ralph Engelstad Arena for the first time last weekend, including an opening night crowd of 1,785.
In the North American Hockey League all three teams have seen mixed results early on. In Richfield the Minnesota Magicians (9-5-2-0) have had the most success so far. Cloquet-based Minnesota Wilderness (8-7-0-0) have outscored opponents 51-41 yet find themselves just above the .500 mark. The Austin Bruins (5-7-1-0) have found themselves in eight one-goal games already. A more consistent game could find the Bruins soaring up the NAHL standings.
In the North American 3 Hockey League Breezy Point North Stars (10-3-1-0) are off to a strong start sitting atop the West Division. New Ulm Steel (9-4-0-0), Granite City Lumberjacks (7-2-3-0), Willmar WarHawks (6-4-0-0) and Alexandria Blizzard (6-6-0-0) all are in the mix of the most competitive of the eight NA3HL divisions.
Competing in the Central Division are the Rochester Ice Hawks (1-12-0-0), who have been searching for goals (and wins) early on. Division foes include defending NA3HL champion North Iowa Bulls, Chicago Bulldogs, La Crosse Freeze and Wisconsin Whalers.
Blaine Energy, Forest Lake Lakers and Steele County Blades compete in the United States Premier Hockey League Midwest Division. Forest Lake (8-3-3) currently are third while the Blades (6-3-1) sit in fifth place of the eight-team division. Blaine are still searching for their first victory of the season.