AHA Spiders Team History
The history of the Spiders hockey club, an ice hockey team of the Adult Hockey Association (AHA), a Twin Cities-based amateur adult no-check hockey association. (And for C2 Spiders history, see C2 Spiders Team History.)
- Standings summary
(L to R) Back row: Paul LaCosse, Mark Franklin, Carlos Eberhardt, Marc Berris, Mat Ronnei, Bob Jensen, Tom Mutak.
Middle row: Deb Brinkman, John Rajes, Ted Samsel, Anton Petsan, Steve Tangen, Tim Johanson.
Front row: Jeff Keacher.
Not pictured: Lu Kwan, Mike Hall.
- Marc Berris (A)
- Deb Brinkman
- Carlos Eberhardt (A)
- Mark Franklin
- Mike Hall
- Bob Jensen
- Tim Johanson
- Jeff Keacher
- Lulu Kwan
- Paul LaCosse
- Tomislav Mutak
- Anton Petsan
- John Rajes
- Mat Ronnei (C)
- Ted Samsel
- Steve Tangen
For many, it was their first time lacing up, and for others it was a chance to get back into a sport they’d been away from since youth.
The Beginner School format includes an on-ice instructional component, then, beginning in February, a seven-game schedule plus playoffs. The Spiders were outgunned through the season, going 0–7. Then, in the final playoff game, vs. the Moose, found a way to win, the 3–2 victory giving them third place in the final standings with a 1–8 record.
(L to R) Back row: Deb Brinkman, Dave Schliesman, Doug Thorson, Bob Jensen, Paul LaCosse, Mark Franklin, Marc Berris, Ben Tesch, Carlos Eberhardt, Mike Montgomery, Ted Samsel.
Middle row: Lee Martini, Eric Anderson, Jeremy Litton, Tim Johanson, Bruce Gustafson, John Rajes, Lu Kwan.
Front row: Jeff Keacher. Not pictured: Brad Caron.
In 2005–06, the Spiders competed for the first time in the full AHA Winter Season, at D2 West. The roster saw numerous changes, with a few of the original members seeking fame and fortune in greener/redder pastures, and some being asked to move up to D1 for parity purposes.
The departures of Anton Petsan, Mat Ronnei, Tom Mutak, Mike Hall and Steve Tangen opened up roster slots on the team, giving the original members the opportunity to round out the squad with friends, co-workers and general acquaintances. The roster expanded to 19, plus one sub, to the maximum 20, as the Spiders welcomed to the red and white:
- Eric Anderson
- Brad Caron (as sub)
- Bruce Gustafson
- Jeremy Litton
- Lee Martini
- Mike Montgomery
- Dave Schliesman
- Ben Tesch
And with the departure of captain Ronnei, former AC Carlos Eberhardt took over as team captain, with Marc Berris and Bob Jensen as the ACs.
Much like the beginner season, victories were hard to come by, with most opponents having been in the league for at least few seasons. The Spiders ended 2–17–0–1 and in 9th place (out of 10) in D2 West.
(L to R) Back row: Michael Armel, Doug Thorson, Marc Berris, Brad Caron, Ben Tesch, David Schaefer, Mike Montgomery, Ryan Herman, Dave Schliesman, Ted Samsel, Paul LaCosse, Mark Franklin
Middle row: Bob Jensen, Jeremy Litton, Brian Armagost, Carlos Eberhardt, Bruce Gustafson, Jim Maietta, Lee Martini
Front row: Jeff Keacher
Following a summer league partnership with the Thunder Chickens, as the “ThunderSpiders,” the Spiders regrouped in the fall of 2006 to warm up for the season by playing in the JMS Fall Tourney. They ended up in third place, with a 2–1 record.
For the Winter season, the Spiders found themselves saying goodbye to five teammates, including four founding Spiders, Deb Brinkman, Tim Johanson, Lu Kwan and John “Mad Dog” Rajes. Eric Anderson would make a career change, and became the full-time goalie for the D2 East Fighting Saints. To fill out the bench, the Spiders welcomed to the team:
- Brian Armagost
- Michael Armel
- Ryan Herman (as sub)
- Jim Maietta
- David Schaefer
Team leadership remained Carlos Eberhardt (C), Marc Berris and Bob Jensen.
The team turned its previous fortunes around, skating competitively against even the strongest teams in the division, resulting in the team’s first winning season. The Spiders finished the season at 12–7–1–0, in fifth place (out of 12) in level D2 East. It was a definite improvement on 2005–06, though the team just missed the playoffs by one place behind the Buccaneers.
Back row: (l to r) Mike Montgomery, John Peterson, Ted Samsel, Bob Jensen, John McGrane, Ryan Herman, Brad Caron, Paul LaCosse.
Front row: Brian Armagost, Jeremy Litton, Mike Armel, Bruce Gustafson, David Schaefer, Mike Johnson.
A core group of Spiders again put together a summer team, this time as the Predators, to compete, and get schooled, in level 3 (D1/C2 equivalent), finishing with a 1–11 record, good for a comfortable lock on last place.
Then, as the Winter season plans were being formulated, the AHA announced that it was recalibrating the definition of its C and D tiers, so that old D2 is the new D1, old D1 is the new C2, etc., thus allowing D2 to become what would’ve been a level D3.
Moreover, as part of the AHA’s ongoing effort to enforce parity, the Spiders were faced with splitting the team, with the higher-skilled players creating a new C2 team, and the remaining players staying at the new D1.
Heading to C2 were Spider veterans Dave Schliesman, Lee Martini, Doug Thorson and Bruce Gustafson, plus first-year Spider (and goal-scoring leader) Jim Maietta. (Though Martini and Gustafson would keep one skate in the D1 end of the pool, filling in as subs.) And the departure of two other veterans, Ben Tesch and founding Spider and netminder Jeff Keacher, the D1 roster had numerous openings to fill.
(l to r)
Back row: Mike Montgomery, Mike Armel, Brad Caron, Bob Jensen, Carlos Eberhardt, John McGrane, Mike Johnson, Aaron Bedessem.
Front row: Bruce Gustafson, Jeremy Litton, Mark Franklin, Brian Armagost.
Donning the red and white for D1, the Spiders welcomed Aaron Bedessem, Mike Johnson, John McGrane and John Peterson to the squad. And taking over Keacher’s crease was Mike Derer. Derer joined from the Summer Level 4 Coyotes, where he earned the distinctive honor as the Level 4 division leader in penalty minutes! 25 minutes … as a goalie. With the team captain Carlos Eberhardt reducing his playing time to become a sub, AC Bob Jensen wore the “C” for the season, with veteran AC Marc Berris and new AC Brad Caron rounding out the team leadership.
The season started out ugly, with a PIM fest against the Fighting Piranhas, and went downhill from there. Notable only for setting various team records for on- and off-ice season-ending injuries, short benches, penalties, game misconducts and empty-net goals, plus a one-season AHA ban for the netminder, the Spiders wrapped up their fourth full AHA Winter season with a 3–17 record, 7th place out of 8 (second-to-last place) in D1 East.
Back row (l to r): Brian Armagost, Luke Baker, Chris Flannery, Rob Droullard, Chris Pettengill, Brad Caron, Jay Hilden, Aaron Bedessem, Paul LaCosse, Ryan Herman, Eric Ackermann.
Middle row: Jeremy Litton, Nick Ungaro, Mike Armel, Mike Johnson, Cory Vandenberghe.
Front row: Amber Obermoller
Coming off the disarray of the 2007–08 season, the D1 Spiders roster saw considerable changes. The Spiders said farewell to numerous teammates:
- Founding Spiders Marc Berris, Mark Franklin and Bob Jensen joined the D2 Maroons.
- Founding Spiders Carlos Eberhardt and Ted Samsel switched to play in non-AHA leagues.
- Spider veterans Mike Montgomery and Dave Schaefer hooked up with other D1 teams, the Lakers and the Diablos, respectively.
- Plus John Peterson, John McGrane and Mike Derer were hanging up the skates, two by choice, one not, respectively.
To fill the void, the Spiders added a number of new faces to don the new PolyPro Mesh sweaters, thankfully procured by new team captain Brad Caron. New to the Spiders: Luke Baker, Chris Flannery, Jay Hilden and Cory Vandenberghe, plus Rob Droullard, Chris Pettengill and Nick Ungaro, all joining from the D1 West Buccaneers, as well as Mike Olson (as a sub). In addition, as a mid-season entrant following the first-week departure of John McGrane, Eric Ackermann joined from the D1 Fighting Piranhas. Incidentally, he also became the D2 Maroons netminder, lacing up with the three former Spiders mentioned above. Finally, taking over in the Spiders’ net, the Spiders welcomed Amber Obermoller to the team.
Along with new team captain Brad Caron, the ACs were worn by Aaron Bedessem and Jeremy Litton.
The Winter season kicked off with a pair of ties, showing the Spiders could skate with the top teams in the division. However, in the second game, vs. the Diablos, a knee-on-knee collision sent captain Brad Caron to the sideline for the remainder of the season, his second consecutive season-ending injury. After the ties, Spiders got on a roll, winning nine consecutive games. The club’s first defeat came at the sticks of the Wingmen, in an overtime chipfest on Jan. 17. With an 9–0–2–1 record, the Spiders got back on the winning track, putting up six more consecutive wins, including two shutouts, until the daylight savings rematch with the Lumberjacks on March 8, where the sluggish Spiders went down in defeat 3–2. But, due to a same-day loss by the second-place Diablos, the Spiders’ 15–1–2–1 record was enough to lock up the D1 East title and a top-seed berth in their first-ever post-season invite. After a final regular-season shutout of the Diablos, the Spiders took their 16–1–2–1 record into the playoffs following a two-week bye.
D1 Pool Champions!
Back row (l to r): Ryan Herman, Aaron Bedessem, Chris Flannery, Nick Ungaro, Brian Armagost, Brad Caron, Paul LaCosse, Mike Johnson.
Middle row: Jeremy Litton, Mike Armel, Jay Hilden, Luke Baker, Cory Vandenberghe.
Front row: Amber Obermoller
The Spiders’ first playoff game was a rematch against the Lumberjacks, who had shut down the Spiders just three weeks prior. However, this time the Jacks fell to the surging Spiders 4–1, though the Spiders lost the cooler services of Paul LaCosse, due to a concussion suffered in the game. The game was a warmup for Hockey Weekend in Bloomington, as the Spiders (and all other entrants) potentially faced four games in under 48 hours. Starting off Friday night, the Spiders faced off against an unknown D1 West Ice Gators and, following a half-game deadlock, established a lead and won 4–2. With a lengthy 14-hour recovery, the incredibly shrinking Spiders arrived at New Hope to face the also unknown Fighting Ice Fish. All the 11 1/3 skaters could muster was a tie to go along with their PIMs. But the tie was enough to advance to the D1 Pool semifinal that night.
The semifinal saw the Spiders coming back up against the previous night’s opponent, the Ice Gators. The Spiders had a whopping 8 hours of rest before the game. But the Gators had only 6. The sluggish 12 2/3 Spiders took to the speed bump-filled ice, and turned into just 11 by the third period, with Ackermann (conflicted…) and Pettengill (herniated…) exiting mid-game. But those extra two hours must’ve meant the difference, as the Spiders sealed the game up with a 3–0 shutout, not only getting their hands on the D1 Pool trophies, but more importantly, an invite to the big dance Sunday to face off for the D1 Championship.
With a full night’s rest, the Spiders headed back to Bloomington Sunday afternoon to face off against a well-known opponent in the Diablos, who had also topped their pool beating the Fighting Piranhas the night before. The Diablos dressed a full 18 skaters for the game, to the Spiders’ remaining 13. Even though heavily outnumbered, the Spiders would somehow find a way to play through the weekend’s exhaustion, bumps and bruises, and prove they really wanted that trophy. The Spiders controlled much of the game, setting a pace to put the Diablos back on their heels in their zone. By the time it was over, the Spiders had forged a 5–0 shutout to take home the D1 crown.
- Regular season standings: 16–1–2–1, with 35 points.
- Post-season standings: 4–0–1, with 8 points.
- Full season standings: 20–1–3–1, with 44 points.
Etched into the AHA annals: D1 Spiders – 2008–09 D1 Champions!
D1 Spiders: 2008–09 D1 Champions!
(l to r): Mike Armel, Nick Ungaro, Paul LaCosse, Brad Caron, Mike Johnson, Jay Hilden, Amber Obermoller, Bruce Gustafson, Chris Flannery, Brian Armagost, Luke Baker, Eric Ackermann, Ryan Herman, Cory Vandenberghe, Aaron Bedessem, Jeremy Litton.
Back row (l to r): Christian Heitzman, Jim Tuttle, Cody Yard, Chris Flannery, Rob Droullard, Brad Caron, Chris Pettengill, Cory Vandenberghe, Eric Ackermann, Paul LaCosse, Ryan Herman, Luke Baker
Front row: Mike Armel, Nick Ungaro, Jeremy Litton, Amber Obermoller, Mike Johnson, John Pellicci, Eric Schlais
In October 2009, the D1 Spiders returned to the ice for their fifth full AHA Winter season, and third at level D1, having healed its collective bumps and bruises following its championship run the previous April. However, not all the faces in the dressing room would be the same. After securing the D1 title, Spider management sent a collection of players up to the C2 squad to assist them in solidifying their playoff chances. No longer at D1: Brian Armagost, Aaron Bedessem and Jay Hilden. Longtime subs Bruce Gustafson and Lee Martini would also turn in their D1 credentials, but remaining on the C2 squad. Plus, an off-season injury to Cory Vandenberghe would keep him off the ice for the season.
To rebuild the roster, the Spiders welcomed Christian Heitzman, John Pellicci, Eric Schlais, Jim Tuttle (as sub), and Cody Yard to wear the Red & White. The Spiders also resurrected former captain and founding Spider Carlos Eberhardt to appear in his Spider sweater as a sub. Plus, in December, C2er Aaron Bedessem was sent back to D1 for a 10-game conditioning stint.
The team was again led by Captain Brad Caron, with Jeremy Litton again wearing the A, along with new AC Chris Pettengill.
The AHA schedulemakers opened the winter season by pairing the previous year’s D1 and D2 champs, the Spiders and the Chaos. The well-practiced and disciplined Chaos, however, prevailed, as the hapless Spiders were severely outmatched and outhustled, showing the only touch they hadn’t lost was that for finding the penalty box. Following a two-week hiatus, the Spiders returned to face the Nighthawks and notched their first win. It would be the only one they would get for over a month. Despite some close games, and thanks to some not-so-close games, the Spiders finished out the 2009 portion of the schedule with a dismal 2–6 record in eighth place (out of 11). Fan chants of “rebuilding year” could often be heard over the glass.
Returning to the ice after the new year, the Spiders got their third win of the season over the last-place Knights. And in the post-game dressing room discussion, the team vowed to work their way back to .500 rather than coast in the D1 cellar. Next on the schedule, however, were the third-place Fighting Ice Fish. With a 6–1 upset over the Fish, the Spiders began to make good on their vow. Starting over at the top of the team list, next up was a rematch with the then 10–0 Chaos, looking as though no other D1 team could catch them. Shockingly, the energized Spiders got out to an unlikely 3–1 lead at the halfway point of the game. From there, the game turned decidedly ugly, with the Chaos tying it back up by the end of the second period, and demonstrating they would try to win at all costs. And thanks to some interesting officiating in the final minutes, they did win, with the final outcome 4–3.
Despite the scar on the record (and someone’s neck), the Spiders regrouped, and put together a string of three wins, including a stunning 4–2 come-from-behind upset of the then first-place, and goals-for/goals-against kings the Fighting Piranhas. Plus, they had actually reached .500, with a 7–7 record, tied for fifth with the Wingmen. A rematch with the Diablos sent the Spiders packing, as the Diablos took advantage of a Spider club with the knack for two-minute rests, eventually going down 9–4, and sliding to sixth place. The Spiders (along with the Lakers, Maroons and Wingmen) would spend the remaining weeks of the season chasing the Fighting Ice Fish, who had skidded to put their fourth-place (and final playoff) spot up for grabs for any team that could put together enough wins. The following week, the Spiders and Wingmen skated to a tie on the scoreboard and the standings. Though the Wingmen had the slight edge on the penalty sheet, thanks to the antics of Sean Avery, eventually setting the single-game PIM record by a Spiders opponent (26 PIM on 9 penalties) as well as apparently a new AHA standard of play.
Following another win over the Sled Dogs, the Spiders and the Maroons rematched, both teams knotted in fifth and sixth, and barely in the running for the fourth and final playoff spot. In this game, the Spiders rallied from a two-goal deficit in the third to tie it back up only to fall flat in the extra frame. Final: Yet another tie. With two games remaining, the Fighting Ice Fish sat a game and a half up. Flying by the Knights 7–4, and thanks to key losses by the Maroons and Wingmen, the Spiders put themselves into the lone position of being able to steal the final playoff spot from the Fighting Ice Fish. And thanks to AHA scheduling prognosticators, the Spiders would close out the regular season facing none other than the Fighting Ice Fish. League data-crunchers had given the Spiders only 43.98% odds of winning in regulation. But the Spiders showed up to play — all 18 of them (the longest bench since March 2007). And win they did, decidedly, with a 5–3 final, and thanks to AHA tiebreakers, bumped the Fighting Ice Fish into an early spring thaw, giving the Spiders their second consecutive post-season appearance.
With their fourth-place finish, the Spiders were slotted as the fourth seed in D1 Pool B, with the Chaos, D1 East Royals and D1 East Ice Gators taking the first three seeds.
The Spiders opened the playoffs just like the regular season. And just like that first game, the Spiders were outhustled by a skilled and seasoned Chaos squad. Despite holding the Chaos off the scoreboard until late in the second, a Spider breakdown of epic proportions handed the game and the critical two points in the standings to the Chaos.
Next up, a familiar opponent from seasons’ past in the Royals, who had ended the regular season in second place in D1 East, and had just shut out the Ice Gators in the first playoff game. The Spiders/Royals game was a back-and-forth affair, eventually ending in a 3–3 stalemate and a single point each in the standings.
In the final round-robin game, the Spiders came back up against the Ice Gators, the same Ice Gators they had seen twice in the playoffs last year. Faced with a potential tie in the standings, the Spiders needed to score early and often to claim the goals-for-differential tiebreaker over the Royals, who needed to lose to the Chaos for the Spiders to get the invite for the Pool Championship. The Spiders did their part, controlling the game from end to end, and racking up enough insurance goals to claim that tiebreaker. However, the Chaos failed to do their part, instead tying the Royals 4–4, giving the Royals an extra point in the standings and the invite to the championship that night. Duly eliminated, the Spiders spilled out of SLP and headed to the closest establishment to celebrate the season. (The Royals and Chaos headed back to BIG, where the Chaos won 2–1 to get the invite to the BIG dance Sunday. In the final, the Chaos faced off against the Diablos, who had now made it to the D1 final three consecutive seasons. They have also lost three consecutive times, going down this year to the Chaos 3–2.)
In the standings
- Regular season standings: 10–8–2, with 22 points.
- Post-season standings: 1–1–1, with 3 points.
- Full season standings: 11–9–3, with 25 points.
Following that dismal 2–6 start, the Spiders successfully turned around their season, enough to make it back to .500, and beyond into the post-season. Moreover, though they set numerous franchise records (mostly for penalty activity), the Spiders made it through the season with notably no game misconducts or suspensions, no incredibly shrinking benches and, thankfully, no season-ending injuries.
Back row (l to r): Cody Yard, Jake Cison, Rob Droullard, Chris Pettengill, Chris Flannery, Tim Wahlberg, Eric Grotbeck, Paul LaCosse, Christian Heitzman.
Middle row: Mike Johnson, Eric Schlais, Jeremy Litton, Cody Vandenberghe, David Schuster, Mike Schroeder, Jason Freed.
Front row: Travis Fransen.
The Spiders began their seventh AHA season — and sixth in the Winter League — following a summer league return as the Whitesnakes, and a 2010 Fall Tournament berth. In October, the Spiders hit the ice with largely the same roster, though with a few changes. The Spiders said farewell to superstar netminder Amber Obermoller; four-year veterans Michael Armel and Ryan Herman; second-year players Eric Ackermann and Luke Baker; and sub veterans Aaron Bedessem and Carlos Eberhardt; and sub Jim Tuttle. Lacing up for the Spiders, from the summer Whitesnakes, Eric Grotbeck; from the D2 Ice Sages, Jason Freed, Mike Schroeder, David Schuster and Tim Wahlberg; and from JMS, Jake Cison and new Spider netminder Travis Fransen.
The team was again led by Captain Brad Caron, with Jeremy Litton and Chris Pettengill again as the ACs.
The season began much like the 2009–10 campaign, vs. the Chaos. However, the Chaos Curse was broken from the drop of the overtime puck, where the Spiders beat the Chaos in the extra frame 4–3. That pattern would continue through the first half of the season, where the Spiders were edging opponents, and coming out on top consistently. Close games against the Royals, Maroons, and Fighting Saints would test the Spiders’ defense. By the halfway point of the season, the Spiders found themselves in the improbable position of being undefeated — a 10–0 record.
The second half opened against the D1 West second-place Puck Hounds, a team the Spiders had yet to face thanks to a Mother Nature-induced reschedule. The marquee game lived up to its billing, and the classic goaltenders’ duel ended in a close 2–0 win for the Spiders.
The rest of the second half had the Spiders on a roll, heading into the final week of the regular season still with an undefeated record, 18–0. The final matchup would again pit the second-place Puck Hounds against the Spiders — twice. As with the previous matchup, the two teams were identically paired, and fittingly, the game ended in a 4–4 knot, and knocking the Spiders’ winning streak off course, 18–0–1. The rubber match the following Saturday went to the Spiders, ending the regular season at an improbable 19–0–1.
With a first-place finish in D1 West, the Spiders were slotted as the first seed in D1 Pool C, matched up with familiar teams, Chaos, Wingmen and Diablos.
The playoff opener led to a clean-sweep of the Chaos, completing the season turnabout against the team that long had the Spiders’ number.
Back row (l to r): Cody Yard, Jake Cison, Tim Wahlberg, Paul LaCosse, Rob Droullard, Chris Flannery, Christian Heitzman, Mike Schroeder.
Middle row: Mike Johnson, Jeremy Litton, Brad Caron, Cory Vandenberghe, Jason Freed, Eric Schlais.
Front row: Travis Fransen
Next, Friday night, the Spiders faced a familiar team, the Wingmen, with an even more familiar face between the pipes, former Spider netminder Jeff Keacher. The Wingmen implemented their gameplan perfectly and established a lead, holding the Spiders offense off the board until the third, when an up-and-back affair finally ended with a Spider goal with 25 seconds on the clock, final 3–2.
In the final round-robin game midday Saturday, another familiar team, the Diablos, who had gone 1–0–1 so far, and needed a win to keep playoff hopes afloat. In the end, it was Diablos netminder Todd Latterner, who had a career game, building a wall around the goal, gobbling 41 of 42 Spider shots, and holding on for a 2–1 defeat of the Spiders, and a jump ahead of the Spiders in the playoff standings. Those 42 shots in a loss represented a new team record, as well as the first Spiders loss of the 2010–11 season.
But AHA math had the Spiders continuing on to the semi-final round, albeit as the fourth-and-final seed, a position the Spiders were far more accustomed to. At the top, the Northern Horde with an eerily familiar regular season record: 18–1–0–1. They had gone 3–0 in the round robin.
The two top D1 teams — the Spiders and Northern Horde — took to the choppy BIG Olympic ice Saturday night in front of a raucous Bloomington crowd for what would go down as the most exciting game the Spiders have ever had the privilege to play in. The game lived up to its billing, two equally matched teams playing equally matched hockey. And as had been the case all playoff weekend, the difference came down to goaltending. Through regulation, each team had two goals, 18 shots and four penalties. The runtime overtime expired with no change on the scoreboard. That meant the Spiders participated in their franchise first-ever shootout. With the suspense palpable from the BIG crowd, the Spiders potted two, while Fransen stood on his head for all Horde chances. When it was over, the Spiders emerged with the win, and spilled onto the ice to celebrate the win and a return to the D1 championship.
In the D1 title game Sunday afternoon, the Spiders faced off against longtime opponents the Lumberjacks, who in three years of playoff berths, had never made it to the AHA final. But this year was their year. The Jacks showed off yet more solid goaltending, and got up to a 3–0 lead after one period, 4–0 after two. The Spiders had no answer to the Lumberjacks’ offense and got no help from the posts or crossbars, and couldn’t turn the tide during the frequent penalties throughout the game. The Spiders managed one lone goal to at least negate the shutout. Though the league misplaced the stat sheet after the game, meaning the Spiders committed no penalties all game as far as the stats are concerned, the result itself was recorded in the books, and Spiders were defeated 4–1 and the Lumberjacks were crowned the the D1 Champions.
In the standings
- Regular season standings: 19–0–1, with 39 points.
- Post-season standings: 3–2–0, with 6 points.
- Full season standings: 22–2–1, with 45 points.
Making a significant improvement on the previous season, the Spiders set numerous franchise records this season, some of which will likely ever be equaled, including most wins (19); longest winning streak (18), longest undefeated streak (22), most shots on goal in a game in a loss (42), fewest shots on goal against in a loss (16), and most goals in a period (6), not to mention numerous player records also set.
Prior to the Spiders’ seventh full AHA Winter season, the AHA split the D1 level into two tiers: with the top teams forming a new C3 level, and the other teams remaining at D1. Having come off the team’s best-ever finish in 2010–11, the Spiders were top of everyone’s list to move up. In a preview of the new level, the Spiders participated in the 2011 Fall Tourney, taking home the hardware that was denied them the previous April.
2011–12 C3 Spiders: Back row (l to r): Jon Pappone, David Lavigne, David Schuster, Chris Pettengill, Rob Droullard, Tim Byland, George Farner, John Pellicci, Paul Berman, Paul LaCosse
Middle row: Mike Schroeder, Andy Schwinn, Rick Fritz, Eric Grotbeck, Jeremy Litton, Cory Vandenberghe, Jason Freed, Mike Johnson
Front row: Bill McCormick
With the strong 2010–11 finish, the roster saw considerable off-season change. Making the move to C2 were netminder Travis Fransen, along with Jake Cison, Chris Flannery, Christian Heitzman, Cody Yard; and retiring from the AHA were Tim Wahlberg, Nick Ungaro and finally, Brad Caron, architect of two D1 championship-caliber teams, and Spiders captain since 2008 (alternate in 2007–08).
With lots of slots to fill, the team welcomed to the red and white: a new goaltender, Bill McCormick, as well as skaters Paul Berman, Tim Byland, George Farner (sub), Rick Fritz, Jon Pappone, Andrew Schwinn, and later in the season, David Lavigne (sub).
The team kicked off the season with an OT loss to the Wingmen, and split the first quarter of the season, with a 2–2–0–1 record in seventh place. By the halfway point, a five-game win streak moved the team into a three-way tie for third place, with a 6–3–0–1 record.
By three-fourths through the regular season schedule, splitting wins and losses demonstrated the strong parity at the C3 level, but meant the Spiders had slipped to fifth in the chase for a top-six playoff berth, with an 8–5–1–1 record. And sure enough, the Spiders put together a February skid, salvaging a lone point in four games thanks to a 4–4 tie with the Royals. By week 17, the team was one loss away from a .500 record (8–7–1–1; 18pts.) and spent its off days on Standings Watch, as the other C3 teams’ key matchups meant lots of shuffling of the playoff spots, though the Spiders were now outside looking in, placed in 7th thanks to tiebreakers.
A key matchup in week 18 between 6th (Fighting Saints) and 7th (Spiders) gave the Spiders renewed hope after the 6–3 win put them back in the playoff running. By week 19, it was AHA math that rescued the Spiders’ season rather than the Spiders’ play on the ice. The team finished the regular season with a 10–7–2–1 record (23 of 40 possible points), in sixth place in C3.
2011–12 C3 Spiders: Back row (l to r): Jon Pappone, Tim Byland, Mike Schroeder, Mike Johnson, Paul LaCosse, George Farner, Chris Pettengill, David Schuster, Paul Berman, Andy Schwinn.
Front row: Bill McCormick, Rick Fritz, Jeremy Litton, Eric Grotbeck, Jason Freed, Cory Vandenberghe.
The Spiders also made their fourth consecutive post-season appearance. After a 25-day hiatus, the Spiders could be forgiven if they thought it was summer hockey they would be playing. The horrid ice conditions at BIG certainly didn’t dispel the illusion. Despite two two-goal leads in game 1, the Wingmen came out on top 4–3.
In a pre-dawn game 2, the ice didn’t get any better overnight, but the Spiders’ luck did, as they beat the Nighthawks 3–2, and climbed to third place in the Round Robin standings. With no semi-final, only the top two pool-play records would make it to the final. Despite a third-period rally, the Spiders lost to the Puck Hounds by one. Had they won — by two goals — they would’ve advanced. Instead, they advanced to the parking lot for some post-season beverages.
In total, the Spiders went 1–2 (2 points) in the post-season, finishing in fourth place.
In the standings
- Regular season standings: 10–7–2–1, with 23 points.
- Post-season standings: 1–2–0, with 2 points.
- Full season standings: 11–9–2–1, with 25 points.
2012–13 C3 Spiders: Back row (l to r): Mike Schroeder, Dave Henke, David Schuster, Dave Lavigne, Mike Johnson, Brad Sutton, John Pellicci, Paul LaCosse, Jon Pappone, Jason Freed, Chris Pettengill
Middle row: Paul Berman, Rob Droullard, George Farner, Eric Grotbeck, Jeremy Litton, Andy Schwinn, Tim Byland, Cory Vandenberghe
Front row: Bill McCormick
The 2012–13 version of the C3 Spiders looked largely the same as the 2011–12 squad. For the first time in the team’s nine-year existence, the roster remained almost identical to the last year’s. 2011–12 rookie Rick Fritz sat out the season due to injury suffered in the summer season’s Underdogs. And joining from the Underdogs was Brad Sutton, who came over from the Puck Hounds as they moved up to C1. And, joining as a sub, Dave Henke, from the also-moved-up-to-C1 Spiders. And rearranging the bench, George Farner and Dave Lavigne switched to full-time spots, while Cory Vandenberghe and Chris Pettengill switched to sub spots.
The team was again captained by Jeremy Litton in his second year wearing the ‘C,’ Eric Grotbeck again wearing the ‘A,’ and newly minted alternate Mike Schroeder taking over for Vandenberghe.
The Spiders began the winter season with a win-some-lose-some approach that would set the tone for the season. After losing to the previous year’s C3 champ Moose 4–1, the Spiders turned around and blanked the eventual C3 East title runner-up Mastodons 5–0. A quarter of the way through, the Spiders were 3–2. Halfway through the regular season, the Spiders were below .500 at 4–6.
Staring at a golf-filled post-season, the Spiders rallied, and went on a stellar 5–1 run, capped by a dramatic upset of the Moose at the Coliseum 2–1, to get back in the playoff picture with a 9–7 record in fourth place.
The final month reverted to the win-some-lose-some strategy of the season opener, splitting the four games 2–2 to finish 11–9. After the last regular season game’s final buzzer against the Diablos, the Spiders presumed to have a fifth-place finish, a point shy of a playoff berth, and headed to the Sunshine Factory to celebrate the season. The other middle-of-the-pack team, Sled Dogs, were taking on the last-place IceDogs, in an exercise to lock in their post-season invite. Only the IceDogs — to the disbelief of the entire Twitter-dom, and C3 Spiders — somehow stole a tie from the IceDogs. Meaning the Spiders advance on tiebreakers to fourth place and their fifth consecutive playoff berth, knocking off the Sled Dogs.
2012–13 C3 Spiders: Back row (l to r): Paul Berman, Dave Lavigne, Mike Johnson, Paul LaCosse, Jon Pappone, Rob Droullard, David Schuster, Andy Schwinn, Brad Sutton
Front row: Dave Henke, Cory Vandenberghe, Mike Schroeder, George Farner, Jeremy Litton, Jason Freed, Bill McCormick
The Spiders’ habit of sneaking into the playoffs had them at the fourth seed, facing the Moose, plus the C3 West Wingmen and Gold Rush.
First up, the Spiders somehow held the first-place Moose to a 2–2 tie, putting in jeopardy that team’s grand plans for a two-peat.
The Friday matinee had the Spiders facing familiar playoff foes the Wingmen. Early scoreboard glitches, combined with early defensive glitches, put the Spiders down 3–2, and a 1–0–1 round robin record.
The Saturday game was a no-win situation for the Spiders, as they could only play spoiler for the Moose. The 1–1 Gold Rush needed a win to keep pace with the Moose. The Spiders started off playing a loose, relaxed game that had the Gold Rush on the ropes 2–0. But the refs found their whistles and the Spiders found themselves in the box in time for the Gold Rush to rally, with most of the game for the Gold Rush 4–3, capped off by a late goal then an empty-netter, to finish off the Spiders 6–3 in front of the raucous BIG 1 crowd. The Gold Rush’s push to destiny was cemented later that afternoon as the Wingmen upset the Moose 1–0, giving the Gold Rush the invite to the final on Sunday.
The Gold Rush capped off their run with a 7–0 clobbering of the Fighting Saints, grabbing the C3 trophy.
The Spiders ended the playoffs with their lowest post-season showing in history, going 0–2–1 (1 point), finishing in fourth place in pool A, or seventh of eight in all of C3.
Up in C1, the Spiders’ upper-level brethren had advanced all the way to the final, only to be held back from the trophy by the Fighting Piranhas 1–0.
In the standings
- Regular season standings: 11–9–0–0, with 22 points.
- Post-season standings: 0–2–1, with 1 points.
- Full season standings: 11–11–1–0, with 23 points.
2013–14 C3 Spiders: Back row (l to r): John Pellicci, George Farner, Jon Pappone, Brad Sutton, David Lavigne, Andy Schwinn, Mike Schroeder, Paul LaCosse, Cory Vandenberghe, Dave Henke
Middle row: Jeremy Litton, Tim Byland, Eric Grotbeck, Rick Fritz, Dave Schuster, Paul Berman, Mike Johnson, Jason Freed, Rob Droullard
Front row: Bill McCormick
The Spiders’ 10th season in the AHA had enough ups and downs to cause team medical staff to keep Dramamine on the bench.
The 2013–14 roster was essentially the same as the previous two seasons, with Rick Fritz returing from IR, sub Chris Pettengill having left the team mid last season, and Andy Schwinn switching from full-time to sub.
The team was again captained by Jeremy Litton in his third year wearing the ‘C,’ with Eric Grotbeck and Mike Schroeder again wearing an ‘A.’
The 2013–14 version of C3 East was loaded with trophy winners — C3 2012–13 and Fall Tourney 2013 champions (Gold Rush); D1 2012–13 champions (Fighting Loons); C3 West 2012–13 Division champions (Fighting Piranhas); and C3 2012–13 championship runners-up (Fighting Saints) — meaning the Spiders would have their work cut out for them if they were to return to the AHA post-season for their sixth consecutive appearance.
After a come-from-ahead loss to open the season, the Spiders found themselves without a goalie after just three games, with netminder Bill McCormick sent to the DL by the Gold Rush. By the time he returned to action a month and a half later, to face his former team the Buccaneers, the Spiders had recovered from a slow start to begin what would add up to a seven-game winning streak. By mid-February, the 8–0–1 run had the Spiders at the top of the C3 East standings.
And then … everything fell apart. The solid team play — opportunistic offense, stingy defense — that was the hallmark of the winning streak, was suddenly nowhere to be found. An 0–7 drubbing by the Fighting Loons was the first Spider shutout in five years of winter play. And it was all down icy hills from there. The Spiders scratched out two more wins in March, enough to qualify for the playoffs for the sixth year running. But as the saying goes, you want to be playing your best hockey heading into the post-season. Instead, the Spiders were doing their best imitation of orange drill cones for the other C3 East teams.
The Spiders finished the regular season in third place in C3 East, with a 12–7–1–0 record and 25 points. On the season, the Spiders finished better than 2012–13’s record of 11–9 and 22 points for fourth place.
In the playoffs, the Spiders had the drill cone act down to an artform. With barely enough skaters to cobble lines thanks to Spring Breaks, season-ending injuries, med school acceptances, and an ill-timed brush with the disciplinary board, what was left of the Spiders were stat fodder for the round-robin pool mates. The goals against started early, and came often, mercifully stopped only by the end of the guaranteed runtime third period clock. By Saturday night, the only trophy cup the Spiders were handed was of the BIG beer garden 16 oz. plastic variety, while the actual AHA hardware, including the D1 trophy engraved with the 2008–09 Spiders team name, was far out of reach.
The playoff record, the worst in the Spiders’ 10 years of AHA competition, was 0–3, with a whopping 29 goals against and a −23 goal differential.
In the standings
- Regular season standings: 12–7–1–0; 25 points
- Post-season standings: 0–3–0–0; 0 points
- Full season standings: 12–10–1–0; 25 points
Stat-wise, after a decade in the AHA, the Spiders have played 187 regular season games, going 95–80–9–3, with 202 points and an incredibly even 758 goals for and against (and only 1,284 PIM). Including the playoffs, with 211 games played, the record is 105–91–12–3, 225 points, 826 goals for, 842 against, and 1,467 penalty minutes. However, they were mostly bad calls.
|Regular Seasons (2004–2014)||187||95||80||9||3||202||758||758||1,284|
|Post-Season Totals (2004–2014)||24||10||11||3||0||23||68||84||183|
2014–15 C3 Spiders: Back row (l to r): Rob Droullard, Paul Berman, George Farner, David Schuster, Brad Sutton, Rick Fritz, Jason Mehling, Sean Murphy
Front row: Mike Schroeder, Bill McCormick, Cory Vandenberghe, Eric Grotbeck, Jeremy Litton, Jason Freed, Scott Bredael, Mike Johnson
The Spiders’ second decade looked much more like the beginning of its first decade, with victories few and far between. After 11 seasons of AHA hockey, the Spiders had discovered a new rival: themselves.
The 2014–15 roster was slightly changed from the previous season, with veterans John Pellicci and Andy Schwinn departing, and Jon Pappone heading to IR. In their place, D1 Ice Sages callup Scott Bredael, as well as former and current Wingmen, Jason Mehling and Sean Murphy.
The team was again captained by Jeremy Litton in his fourth year wearing the ‘C,’ with Eric Grotbeck and Mike Schroeder again wearing an ‘A.’
The season began on a high note — an 8–0 shutout of the Marauders. And the Spiders should’ve hung ’em up there and then, as it was mostly all downhill for the remainder of the winter.
For the first half of the season, the Spiders were able to hang around .500, climbing as high as second place among the 11-team C3 East field. And then, a highlight reel-filled come-from-ahead loss™ in overtime in late January to the Blade Runners sent the Spiders on a downward spiral from which the team never recovered. A six-game stretch that kept the Spiders out of the win column, going 0–3–2–1, from Jan. 24 – March 5, put playoff hopes all but out of reach. Thanks to usual AHA math, however, the Spiders actually had a micro-slim chance to sneak back into the post-season picture with two games to go. Instead, the Spiders spectacularly lost the final two games, giving away the proverbial late two-goal lead to the Royals, and then capped the season by — for the first time in Spider franchise history — a season shutout sweep, by the Mastodons.
The Spiders missed the post-season for the first time in seven AHA winter seasons, having gotten an invite to the BIG dance every season since the 2008–09 championship run.
In the standings
After seven consecutive winning seasons, this was the team’s fourth losing season, with the Beginner School, 2005–06 inaugural winter season, and the 2007–08 first season at D1 representing the others.
Regular season record: 7–10–2–1, with 17 points