It was an exciting, action-packed weekend as the Valley Jr Warriors Junior A team played host to the 2009 Warrior Classic. The annual showcase which is enjoying its 14th year featured some of the top Junior A team from across North America.
A total of 10 Eastern Junior Hockey League teams competed in this year’s event which was held over a three-day period at the Haverhill Valley Forum. This year’s field included the host Valley Jr Warriors, Springfield Jr Pics, South Shore Kings, New England Jr Huskies, New Hampshire Monarchs, New York Apple Core, CD Selects, Bridgewater Bandits, Philadelphia Revolution and the Syracuse Stars.
Leading the way with a perfect 3-0-0 record on the weekend was the Northern Division leading Monarchs which defeated the Huskies, Springfield Pics and South Shore. The Valley Jr Warriors continued their stellar play as of late as they skated to a 1-0-2 record which included two key ties against the Philadelphia Revolution. The Warriors began the Warrior Classic with a strong 2-1 victory against the Syracuse Stars. In that game, Anton Bernard netted the first tally of the game just 40 seconds in off of helpers from Chris Cowles and Sam Smith. The Stars evened the contest eight minutes later when Mike Zalewski found the back of the net. The teams remained deadlocked until Mark Jackson scored the game winner with assists going to TomKader and Ryan Quirk.
In the Warriors next contest, they battled goal-for-goal with Philadelphia and managed to secure a 2-2 tie. Scoring for the home team in that game were Dave Chiaradonna (a shorthanded tally at the 6:57 mark of the first period) and John Jackson. The following day, the same teams met up and while both teams found the back of the net more frequently the end result was the same.
The Revolution jumped out to a seemingly commanding 5-2 lead, but the Warriors did not give up as they outscored Philadelphia by a 4-1 margin from that point on to force an overtime period. Notching goals for the Warriors on Sunday were Jay Nicholls, Derek McCoy, Chris Cowles, Regan MacLean, Anton Bernard and Sam Smith. This week’s EJHL Defensive Player of the Week – Riki Retelle – assisted on Smith’s game-tying goal which came at the 16:08 mark of the second stanza.
Capturing the Independent Division title was the squad from National Sports Academy (see photos below). Playing with a jump in their step and a desire for redemption, the Lake Placid-based team broke out to a 3-0 lead after the first period and never looked back en route to a 5-3 victory over Stanstead College. Making the win that much sweeter was the fact that NSA had suffered a stinging 5-2 defeat to Stanstead College the night before.
This time around, National Sports Academy came out firing by scoring three unanswered goals in the first period. Netting tallies in that period were Taylor Wielert, Tim Colvin and Vincent Cafone. Stanstead College made a strong comeback bid in the second period as Matthew Robertson scored twice and Marc-Olivier Sauriol netted a solo tally but NSA had an answer. Hiio Herne and Colvin both scored in the final period to ice the 5-3 victory.
Leading up to that championship game, Stanstead College had been the only Independent team to be unbeaten as the Canadian squad had bested Ontario Hockey Academy (5-1) on Friday and then the Atlanta Jr Knights (3-2) and National SportsAcademy (5-2) on Saturday.
Competing in this year’s Independent Division were the Dynamiques (Quebec, CAN), Ontario Hockey Academy (Ontario, CAN), Stanstead College (Quebec, CAN), National Sports Academy (Lake Placid, NY), Atlanta Jr Knights (Atlanta, GA) and Bridgton Academy (ME).
2009 Warrior Classic Champions - National Sports Academy
2009 Warrior Classic Finalists - Stanstead College