The St. Louis Bandits won their spot in the NAHL's Robertson Cup Finals last night by beating the Springfield Jr. Blues 5-3. The Jr. Blues won only one game in the best-of-five series, a 1-0 decision in Chesterfield.
The boys played hard all year long. It's tough to come back from a long losing streak, and that has been the hallmark of the past two seasons. Two early-season losing streaks can really disrupt a team's progress. The Jr. Blues have faltered in the season-opening NAHL Showcase twice so far, but each time they've fought back to make a run to the playoffs. There will be a big disruption in the team next season as players age off, new owners take the reins and the coaching situation gets resolved once and for all. I'm not completely convinced that the new owners aren't looking to move the Jr. Blues west after a few years. The new owner has a junior team in San Jose in a league lower than the NAHL, and having a second California team might help the current team in Fresno have a nearby competitor.
This off-season will be big regardless of the Jr. Blues not making it to the playoffs. The Bandits are scheduled to "go dormant" after the season is over, and the Chicago Hitmen have been shut down, maybe permanently. I hope the new owners don't bail as fast as the head coach hired at the beginning of the season. It takes a lot of money to run a junior team these days. The Jr. Blues have survived almost 20 years now in one city, so maybe longevity and stubbornness will keep the team running for a little longer.