Junior hockey: Marquette Royales open pool play at nationals on Thursday

MARQUETTE – The dozen teams participating at the USA Hockey Tier III Junior National Championships have been divided into three pools of four teams each for play at the International Skating Center of Connecticut.

Teams play within their pool with the three pool winners and a wild card advancing to the semifinals at 2 and 5 p.m. Sunday and championship game at 5 p.m. Monday.

As champions of the Minnesota Junior Hockey League, the Marquette Royales will play in the Red Pool along with the top team from the host Eastern Junior Hockey League and representatives of the American West Hockey League and Premier Division of the U.S. Premier Hockey League.

The Royales open play at 4 p.m. Thursday against the Helena (Mont.) Bighorns of American West, then at 4 p.m. Friday face the New Hampshire Junior Monarchs of the Eastern league.

Pool play wraps up at 7 p.m. Saturday with the Boston Junior Bruins of the Premier league.

Other teams in the tournament, which includes seven leagues in all, include the MnJHL’s other representative, the Dells Ducks of Lake Delton, Wis., along with the downstate Flint Junior Generals, Boston (Mass.) Bandits, Springfield (Mass.) Pics, Northern (N.H.) Cyclones, North Iowa Bulls, Florida Junior Blades and Bellingham (Wash.) Blazers.