After cruising through Thursday afternoon traffic on the 401 and spending a ridiculous amount of time trying to find a parking spot, finally I was ready to take in my favourite tournament of the year, the Whitby Silver Stick.
This is the 2nd year that I have attended this tournament and after one day the Alliance has already surpassed what they did in last year’s tournament. I remember last year, there were a lot of high hopes for teams such as London, Waterloo and Windsor. Needless to say, the Alliance teams all laid an egg and none of the six teams that entered the tournament advanced to the quarter-final round.
Before I even got to the arena, the Alliance was 0-1 after the Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs, in the first Minor Midget game of the tournament, fell to the Southern Tier Admirals. It was a tough start for the Chiefs, especially considering that Friday morning they will have to try and contain Jack Hughes and Graeme Clarke as they take on the Toronto Marlboros.
The first full game that I was able to take in was the Waterloo Wolves and the always tough Mississauga Rebels. Let’s just say, the day didn’t start off on quite the greatest foot.
Waterloo Wolves downed 8-2 by Mississauga Rebels in flat tournament opener
The game actually started in favour of the Wolves. The forecheck was putting lots of pressure on the Rebels defense and they were using some speed to stretch the offense. The Wolves opened up the scoring when Nathan Allensen took and pass and ripped it top corner from the faceoff dot and it appeared that the Wolves were in business.
The game would have been tied heading into the second period, but the Rebels were able to capitalize on a defensive miscue and scored with just .5 seconds remaining in the period. While that could have deflated the Wolves, they came out in the 2nd still showing signs of life. Griffin Wilson with a nice shot off the wing tied it up at two, but that would be the end of the Wolves in this one.
The Rebels really began to pull away and a powerplay goal with just 32 seconds remaining in the second period gave Mississauga a 4-2 lead at the flood. In the third, it became apparent that the Wolves just didn’t have it on this day as they were fairly sloppy in the defensive zone, something I’m not used to seeing from this club.
Cy Martin was doing his best to deflect shots to the corner, but too many were landing on Mississauga sticks and Martin wound up getting the hook after the Rebels made it 6-2. When all was said and done, Mississauga would put in eight to grab the victory. For Waterloo, I thought Brayden Krieger, Griffin Wilson and Kurtis Goodwin all hard strong games and did their best to spark the offense. Waterloo will try to rebound Friday morning with a date against the Barrie Jr. Colts.
Cambridge plays strong, fades late to tie Delta Hockey Academy
Next up were the Cambridge Hawks taking on the Delta Hockey Academy, a school from British Columbia. Without much information on the team, Cambridge came out on fire and really showed off their speed game. They were winning a majority of the battles for the puck and were having lots of success with their puck movement.
Goaltender Geo Wilson was strong for Delta and was making some big saves through the first period and into the second. When Cambridge got a 5-on-3 powerplay, it was time to set up a play that has worked a plethora of times this season. Ryan Campbell, playing the point on the powerplay, brought it to the top of the circle then went backdoor to the slot where David Anderson put it home to make it 1-0 Cambridge.
Shortly thereafter, Jagger O’Toole, one of the four defence the Hawks were using in this game, deked his way around a Delta defender and nearly knocked the bottle of the net with his shot. 2-0 Cambridge and they looked to be in control of the game.
While the defense was strong, there was only so much the four guys could do over a 42 minute game and it was late in the second period when the odd man rushes finally went the way of Delta. Jet Greaves, who made some stellar saves, was beat on a 2-on-1 late in the 2nd and the Hawks led just 2-1 at the flood.
Halfway through the third, a long shift for the defence gave Delta a chance and they capitalized to tie the game at two and that is where the final would be. O’Toole and Mark Cooper were both great on defence. Up front, I thought the line of Campbell, Anderson and Griffin Sinden was very good. This was one of the better games I’ve seen Ryan Campbell play this season.
Up next, Cambridge will take on the 0-1 Toronto Jr. Canadiens Friday morning.
London Jr. Knights control their way to 2-1 win over Toronto Nationals
It was the top Alliance squad taking on the 2nd place GTHL team in the Toronto Young Nationals. In a game that I anticipated to be very close, I actually feel like the Jr. Knights controlled play and were the better team throughout the entire game.
While the teams both went back and forth to begin with both teams have strong rushes by the forwards, London took the lead on a nice tip from Aidan Preuter to give London a 1-0 lead. Preuter, on a line with Ryan Suzuki and Brett Budgell were the powerhouse everyone was looking at to put London on the scoreboard. While this line had the fire power, the other two London lines were just as successful at creating offensive chances with the likes of Jeffrey Burridge, Bryce Lewis and Levi Siau having strong games up front.
Nearly halfway through the third period, the Jr. Knights still held onto a 1-0 lead, but a strange sequence that saw lots of players hitting the ice saw the Young Nationals with a man going solo against netminder Owen Say and Say was beat to tie the game at 1 and possibly give Toronto the momentum.
That was not the case as just seconds later, Ryan Suzuki tipped home his own goal to give London the 2-1 lead and that would be the final. Preuter and Suzuki got the goals and were very strong, I also liked how Mason Millman played on the blueline.
London doesn’t need to wake up early on Friday, but early in the afternoon they will take on Detroit Belle Tire in their first game of the tournament.
In addition to these four squads, the Sun County Panthers will also begin their tournament on Friday morning as they go up against the 1-0 Southern Tier Admirals.