The best of the best from the Alliance came out to the Sun Life Financial Arena in Waterloo yesterday for the beginning of the Alliance All Star festivities. While the Bantam and Major Midget players played in one isolated game, the Minor Midget’s are competing in a mini four team tournament that will showcase the best attributes from each and every player.
The first day saw lots of action and lots of players were playing their best hockey of the season. There were four games in total, with Team Navy and Team Grey both going 2-0 while Team White and Team Blue both went winless in their respective two games.
Here are some of the highlights from the first day.
Team Navy defeats Team White 5-4
The first game of the All Star weekend saw both Team Navy and Team White come out blazing with each team scoring a goal within the first 90 seconds of the game. It was two Jr. Knights who opened the scoring with Joel Mazzilli scoring for Navy and Brett Fisher for White.
London’s Keaghan Brett played the full game for Team White and played very well. He made some big saves including one on a breakaway by Sun County’s Jake Nimmo. James Walker got the start for Navy and definitely improved as the game progressed. Walker was fantastic for the third period, stalling the offensive pressure of White.
During the game, Team Navy was led offensively by Elgin-Middlesex’s Aidan Reid and Windsor’s Evan Ferguson offensively. Reid was especially impressive as he was all over the puck and when he was on the ice, plays went through him. The surprise player for Navy was Grant Spence who had lots of scoring chances and was a constant threat whenever in the offensive zone. Team White had many players who shined despite the loss. Isaac Taylor and Kyle Fisher were the stars on offense while Tristan DeJong and Duncan Core had great games on defense. Hometown guy Mason McMahon played probably the best game that I’ve seen him play this season and was constantly threatening and throwing heavy body checks.
Team Grey defeats Team Blue 2-1
On paper, you could probably say that Team Blue should have run through this tournament with the team that was assembled. Blue included top prospects like Owen Lalonde, Eric Guest, Jake Murray and Mitch Hoelscher not to mention that Brady Hinz was supposed to be on this team, but couldn’t play due to injury. Despite the high powered team, it was Team Grey that came on and pretty much dominated the game from midway through the first on.
Team Grey was led by a lot of skilled play makers such as Chris Playfair and Blake McConnell-Barker and it was Barker who opened up the scoring with a quick wrist shot that floated past goaltender Lucas Bain. For the game, Grey also had good games from Griffen Fox and Spencer Lapointe on defense. I was particularly impressed with Wes Dobbin as he was able to really use his vision to set up chances left, right and centre.
Despite the loss, Team Grey did have some strong showings. Mitch Hoelscher and Jake Murray were the two guys who consistently had the offense moving forward. On defense, it was no surprise that Owen Lalonde, who was paired up with Tyler McBay, was the star on defense for both squads, further cementing his spot as the best player in the Alliance.
Team Navy defeats Team Blue 3-0
This game was all about Nathan Young in net for Team Navy. The Huron-Perth netminder was absolutely amazing throughout the game making big saves during some big scrambles in the crease. Young was named the player of the game and rightfully so.
For a second game in a row, Chatham-Kent’s Grant Spence was superb and he has really upped his stock in my eyes as someone to watch going forward this season. Hamilton’s Andrew Hanaka played well with Spence on the same line. On the back end for Navy, Brantford’s Holden Wale played fantastic especially on the powerplay.
Team Blue once again was unable to get things going offensively, with Eric Guest and Joey Ferrera leading the way. Despite the loss, Jakob Knowles was also very strong in net for Blue. Spence’s Cyclones team mate Garrett McArthur shined for Blue in the loss, showing crisp passes and good vision across the neutral zone.
Team Grey defeats Team White 4-1
The final game of day one was a two period battle between Tri-City goaltenders as Waterloo’s Nathan Torchia went toe-to-toe with Kitchener’s Rhett Kimmel with both gentlemen going back and forth trying to one up each other in the save department.
Team Grey had one lined that shined bright during this game. It was the connection of Griffen Fox, Rewdy Scott and Wes Dobbin that seemed to be involved in every goal and every scoring opportunity. It was especially impressive when Fox had the puck as he wasn’t taken off of it easily and it was those plays that made him and easy choice for the Player of the Game for Grey.
For the second game in a row, it was Isaac Taylor and Mason McMahon who were the leaders of the offense with Eric Carter scoring the lone goal on top goaltender Torchia. Taylor really showcased how much he uses his size to get to the net throughout the first two games. McMahon tried to establish a name for himself and prove that he is a threat on his own and not just when put on a line with the likes of Playfair or Alex Gritz.
Day two will see the final round robin games in the morning while the third place game and championship game will take place in the afternoon, all once again at the Sun Life Financial Arena.
This article has been corrected to say James Walker played the entirety of the game for Team Navy against Team White. Original article had stated that Nathan Young started the game whole Walker finished it.