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Pacific Division USP3 Championship Series Preview

By Alexander D. Stimson, 02/20/17, 7:15PM EST

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A record-setting regular season is now in the rear view mirror as the Eugene Generals prepare to host the rival Seattle Ravens in a win-or-go-home series to crown the Pacific Division champ.

 

The USP3HL Pacific Division Championship Series, a best-of-three series to be played in Eugene, will feature the Pacific Division's top-seeded Eugene Generals vs. the second-seeded Seattle Ravens. The winner of the best-of-three series will advance to Marlborough, Massachusetts where they will serve as the Pacific Division's representative at the USPHL Beantown Spring Classic, the host of the USP3HL Playoffs.

 

Full Pacific Division Championship Series schedule: 

 

 
DATE
OPPONENT
LOCATION
TIME
TICKETS
Game One
Tues. Feb. 21
vs. Seattle Ravens
The Rink Exchange
7:30pm PST
Game Two
Fri. Feb. 24
vs. Seattle Ravens
The Rink Exchange
7:30pm PST
Game Three*
Sat. Feb 25
vs. Seattle Ravens
The Rink Exchange
7:30pm PST
(*if necessary) 
 
Playing in their respective first seasons as members of the United States Premier Hockey League, the Generals and Ravens have both become two of the league's top teams, and the winner of the PDCS figures to make plenty of noise at the upcoming USP3HL Playoffs. Tucked away in the Northwest corner of the United States, much was unknown about the Generals entering the season despite having more than a decade of history to lean on.

 

Forty-four games later, the Generals are no longer Tier III's best-kept secret as the Generals posted one of the best seasons in franchise history this year, highlighted by crossing the 70-point mark for just the third time in franchise history (76: 2008-09 and 2009-10) while becoming one of only four USP3HL teams to do so this season (Florida Jr. Blades - 86, Charlotte Rush - 71, Traverse City North Stars - 70). 

 

How to the two team's regular season numbers stack up? Take a look:

 

 
EUGENE
SEATTLE
Record
34-7-3
24-14-4
Record in OT
3-2
2-3
Record in Shootout
1-1
0-1
Power Play %
30.0*
23.6
Penalty Kill %
81.1 
86.7 
Goals For Per Game
5.32
4.21
Goals Against Per Game
2.48 
2.88 
Goals in 1st
81
52
Goals in 2nd
83 
58 
Goals in 3rd
70 
66 
*best in the USP3HL 
 
While Eugene holds the upper hand in the overall numbers, the head-to-head statistics indicate that these two teams may in fact be closer matched than it initially appears, as evidenced below: 

 

 
EUGENE
SEATTLE
Wins
9
3
Goals For
44
36
Goals Against
36
44
PP%
20.69% (12-58)
 23.25% (10-43)
PK%
76.75%
 79.31%
Record in One-Goal Games
5-2-0
 2-2-3
 
The Generals may indeed hold a comfortable margin over the Ravens in the head-to-head win column, but that's not to say that it has come easy. Seven meetings between the two teams during the regular season were decided by just one goal and eleven of twelve meetings included a winning margin of two goals or less.

 

Special teams numbers in the head-to-head matchups immediately jump off of the page as Seattle has held Eugene's potent power play unit a whole ten percentage points underneath their overall season average, but recent performances against the Ravens indicated that perhaps the Generals' PP unit had figured out Seattle's stout PK. Eugene's PP has converted on 9 of 27 opportunities (33.33%) in four matchups vs. the Ravens since the start of 2017.

 

Three of the twelve prior meetings between these two have gone past regulation with the Generals winning all three, two in overtime and one in a shootout.

 

Eugene's power play unit has been tops in the league as they've hit at an eye-popping rate of 30.0%, but the Seattle PK has been stout as they rank 5th overall in the USP3HL. Conversely, the Generals PK unit has struggled mightily as they are ranked in the bottom half of the USP3HL while Seattle's PP unit comes in at 8th. 
 
 
Players To Watch
Cody Arbelovsky 
Arbelovsky made headlines last weekend after breaking the Generals franchise record for most goals scored in a single season (47), however the Alaskan has become well-known outside the friendly confines of Eugene as he finished the regular season as the top goal scorer in the USP3HL. Arbelovsky posted 11 goals and 7 assists for 18 overall points in 12 games played against the Ravens during the regular season.

 

Brett Sparks - Defenseman (EUG)
While Arbelovsky's record-breaking weekend stole the show, it was actually Sparks who made history first in what has been a magical season for the Portland native. Playing in his final junior-eligible season, Sparks has been perhaps league's top two-way threat among blue liners as he leads all USP3HL defenseman in goals (23), power play goals (11) and overall points (56). His 23 goals and 56 points both broke single season franchise records for defenseman. 

 

Cole Bloemer - Forward (EUG)
Bloemer has become a fan-favorite during his second season in Eugene and he's quietly become arguably the most important player to the Generals' success this season. While his gritty reputation seems to center around the fact that he currently leads the team in PIMs, the Alaskan has quietly led the team in a far, far more important category: game-winning goals. Bloemer scored his ninth GWG of the season last Friday to break the Generals franchise record for most in a single season, previously held by Michael Schlagel (8: 2008-09). Perhaps even more telling about Bloemer's importance to the team is the fact that the Generals are a perfect 17-0-0 in games that he has scored in this season. 

 

Christopher Alexakis - Goaltender (EUG)
Simply put, there may not be a better netminder in the USP3HL than the top tendy in Eugene. The former state champ with West Anchorage High School has shined in his first season as a General having finished the regular season among the USP3HL’s top ten in wins (20 - 3rd), save percentage* (.927 - 5th), and goals against average (2.28 - 9th). Alexakis has shined against the stiffest competition as he is 9-1-0 with .918 save percentage against Seattle this season. 
(*minimum 800:00 minutes played)

 

Braden Sanchez - Forward (SEA)
Sanchez has been arguably the league's best player born in the year 2000 as the youngster finished the regular season ranked in the top ten in the USP3HL in goals (41 - 3rd) and overall points (75 - 7th). Sanchez has tallied 7 goals and 9 assists for 16 overall points in 12 games against the Generals this season, however the Washington native was held scoreless in each of his last two games against Eugene. 

 

Brett Lisoway - Forward (SEA)
Added roughly a month and a half into the season, Lisoway helped alleviate the pressure off of Sanchez as the two have combined to be one of the USP3HL’s most potent point-getting tandems. A product of the Okanagen Hockey Academy, the Canadian is in the top 40 in the USP3HL in scoring despite not suiting up for the Ravens until November. Lisoway has 4 goals and 7 assists for 11 overall points in eight games played against the Generals this season. 

 

Payton Okon - Forward (SEA)
The Generals weren't the division's only team to make deadline deals as former Tri-City Outlaws captain Payton Okon was acquired by Seattle to help counter Eugene's midseason additions of Adam Shimamoto and Colton Symbol. Okon had notoriously been a thorn in the Generals' side while with T.C. (standing at 6'3'', a BIG thorn at that), and that continued upon his arrival in Seattle as Okon has two goals and an assist in four games against the Gens since the trade.

 

Josh Stone - Goaltender (SEA)
Like Alexakis, Stone is undoubtedly to top tendy for his team and he's shown time and time again why he may in fact be one of the best in the league, evidenced by his 16 wins on the season (6th in USP3HL). In nine games played against the Generals this season, Stone posted a 3-3-2 record along with a .911 save percentage.
 
 
News & Notes
Symbol Out For Game One
Eugene Generals forward Colton Symbol is currently serving a suspension and therefore will not play in Game One of the Pacific Division Championship Series. Symbol's suspension stems from an incident in last Friday's game vs. the West Sound Warriors that saw Symbol receive a major penalty for fighting and an ensuing game misconduct after an altercation with West Sound's Karlen Slater. Symbol will be eligible to return to the Generals lineup in Game Two on Friday. 

 

Injury Report
After nearly a month straight of being plagued by nagging injuries, the Generals roster is arguably the healthiest that it has been all season long as the team will be playing with its full lineup in the PDCS. Local product Jack Thornton will return to the lineup after sitting out the regular season finale with an upper body injury while recent addition Jordan Szymanski returned to the lineup last weekend after missing the weekend prior, also with an upper body injury.
 
 
How To Watch
Tickets
Tickets to all three games of the USP3HL Pacific Division Championship Series are on sale now at EugeneGenerals.com.
Video
Can't make it to the game? Don't worry! Catch every minute of the 2017 PDCS live, free, and in HD thanks to the Eugene Generals Hockey Network. Coverage starts 30 minutes prior to puck drop.
Stats/Updates
Live updates of every Generals game are provided on Facebook and Twitter while live stats are available at USPHL.com.
 
 
Remember to follow the Generals on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram throughout the postseason for scoring updates, information and behind-the-scenes content from Generals players, coaches and staff.