Great Lakes Division - 2nd Seed
33-9-1-1 (68 points)
The Toledo Cherokee of 2018-19 might never have dreamed that their successors two years later would be a Nationals-bound program.
The first Cherokee team to compete in the USPHL Premier struggled as Head Coach Kenny Miller and the staff got the lay of the land in their new League, and learned which players would succeed best. They found a great mix for the next year, and the 2019-20 Cherokee were off and running, finishing 12th last year. The Cherokee have kept improving and pushed up to seventh overall for 2020-21, finishing 33-9-1-1, with a 10-0-1 run capping the regular season.
"When we came back from the Christmas break, we made a few roster changes. We were able to add a couple of guys that have bought into what we are trying to do here, and with them and the entire group buying inm it led us to record of 17-1-2 since the break,” said Miller.
The Cherokee will be happy to lead all of their Nationals opponents in a track meet. Finesse and speed favor their game.
“We have a group that can skate. We like to get up and down the rink and we have had solid goaltending all year,” Miller said. “This group has found a way to hit their stride at the perfect time."
The Cherokee qualified with a 2-0 series win against the Pittsburgh Vengeance, against whom they split the regular season 2-2. The Vengeance, on Jan. 24, gave the Cherokee their last regulation loss of the season.
"We were able to score the first goal in both games, which was huge for us and we got really good goaltending from Joey Cormier he was the MVP of the series in our opinion,” Miller said. "Pittsburgh is a good team and we knew they were going to be a tough out, but I thought our guys stuck to the game plan and when we had opportunities we were able to cash in.”
Rest in a compact postseason is important, and the Cherokee gave their guys Sunday and Monday off. They’ll also stop at a rink and practice to break up a 10-hour trip to Chilled Ponds in Chesapeake, Va.
“We'll have a practice on Tuesday and go over some things we see on film and board the bus Wednesday. We will stop on the way and have a light practice before we finish the trip and get into Hampton Roads," Miller said.
The Cherokee are excited and ready to take their high-paced game to a trio of pool play teams including the Fresno Monsters, Carolina Jr. Hurricanes and the top seed out of the Midwest West Division (to be set on Sunday evening).
"We know every team there will be good, so we will have to be on our game in order to have success,” said Miller. “I really like this group of kids and we expect them to play well when we get down there."
Toledo Cherokee 2021 National Championship Schedule:
(All games at Chilled Ponds Ice Sports Complex, Chesapeake, Va.)
Thurs., March 18, vs. Midwest West 1st Seed, 3:50 p.m.
Fri., March 19, vs. Fresno Monsters,10:40 a.m.
Sat., March 20, vs. Carolina Jr. Hurricanes, 9:10 p.m.