Four Valley Junior Warrior teams have returned home after
competing in the 2010 Bauer International Invitational, arguably the premier
youth hockey tournament in North America.
Although they may have not won any titles, all four teams –
the ’96 Elites, ’97 Elites, ’98 Elites and ’99 Elites – competed well and proved
that they can keep pace with even the best teams in North America.
"It was a
great experience for all of the teams to play against the top talent in the
nation," said Fred Devereaux, the VJW Director of Player Development who was
taking in all of the action this weekend in Chicago. "We were impressed with
how the kids responded to the pressure, and we are going to build on the experience
gained here in Chicago."
This year’s highly-anticipated event featured 408 teams in
the boys division and more than 8,500 players from the United States, Canada
and Russia. "There is no question that this is tournament prepares teams
for the rest of the season," explains Devereaux, who also serves as a scout for
the Calgary Flames. "It was a good test for our players, and it gave our
coaches a feel for what we need to work on to continue to battle with the top
teams in the country."
Here is a
summary of the impressive play by the four VJW teams.
VJW ‘96 Elites
It was a tall order for the Warriors this year as the they competed in the
Youngstown Division which included two of the top 10 teams in the nation. To
kick off the tournament, the ’96 VJW Elites faced off against Team
Wisconsin and skated to a 4-4 tie. After falling behind 3-1, the Warriors
exploded in the third period and outscored Team Wisconsin by a 3-to-1 margin to finish with a key point.
Next up was a formidable
challenge in the form of the team
expected to win the championship title this year – second-ranked Detroit
Belle Tire. Although the Warriors could not pull out the upset victory,
the Warriors put on a strong showing as they were tied with Detroit
one period and down by just one heading into the second stanza.
gave the Warriors confidence heading into an exciting second-day battle with
Whitby Wildcats from Ontario, ranked ninth in the Ontario hockey rankings. In
what was a back-and-forth contest, the Warriors jumped out to a 2-0 advantage
following goals by Pat Daly and Cam Brown. The Wildcats scored three unanswered
goals, but the Warriors had an answer thanks to tallies by Nolan Redler, Alex
Lester and Zach Cote who all scored in the second period. The Ontario powerhouse
took an early 6-5 lead in the third period, but the Warriors stormed back as Redler netted his second of the game at the 3:16 mark to tie the contest and earn
his team a key tie.
Ranked 14th in the
nation, the Warriors finished off the tournament by scoring four times against
the 27th-ranked Dallas Alliance Bulldogs.
Upon their return home,
the Warriors will look to continue its impressive MSYHL play. Heading
into the Bauer International Invitational, the VJW '96 Elites were atop
the Bantam Major standings with a league record of 11-0-1.
here for complete results for the VJW ’96 Elites.
VJW '97 Elites
Currently ranked 11th in the country, the VJW ’97 Elites
competed in one of the toughest divisions which included two teams ranked in
the top five!
In its first contest, the Warriors took on the 14th-ranked Barrie
Colts from Ontario. After taking a 2-1 lead midway through the second period courtesy
of goals by Zach Mirageas and Jack McKenelley, the Barrie Colts stormed back to even the score after two periods. They went on to net the game winner at the
2:40 mark of the third period.
That tough loss was
especially hard to recover from
considering the team had to face No. 2-ranked St. Louis Amateur Blues
later that day. Although the Warriors struck first in the first period,
went on to score four unanswered goals en route to a 5-2 victory. Casey
Fitzgerald and Eric MacAdams scored in the losing effort.
With its playoff hopes all but lost, the Warriors showed
grit and determination during their final game against the Chicago Young
Americans (CYA). The CYA, a team ranked fifth in the nation and one that was
expected to knock off the Blues in this year’s season, jumped on the board
first and held on to a 1-0 advantage through two periods. It was all the
Warriors come the third period, however, as they outscored Chicago by a 3-to-1
margin. Although a team effort throughout, the Warriors received offensive
contributions in that game from Mirageas, Garrett Pietz and Noah Hanifin.
Undefeated in New England
Hockey League (NEHL) play, the
Warriors have much to look forward to. In addition to five key league
will take part in the 2010 Warrior Thanksgiving Tournament and then
travel to Canada to compete in the Richard Bell Tournament in Toronto
over Christmas. The following month, the team will serve as host of the
2010 SuperSeries 97.
here for complete results for the VJW ’97 Elites.
VJW '98 Elites
The VJW ’98 Elites came just a few games shy of a national title this year.
The Warriors finished with a 2-1-0 regulation record and earned a spot in the playoff
bracket. In that first round playoff game against Team Maryland, the Warriors held a 3-2
advantage after two periods thanks to goals scored by JJ Harding, Billy Falter
and Evan McDonald. Team Maryland proved too much in the end, however, as the squad scored
three unanswered goals in the third period for the 5-3 victory. Interestingly,
Team Maryland had some professional-level experience on the bench as longtime Washington Capitals vice president and
general manager George McPhee serves as an assistant coach.
Leading up to that exciting playoff game, the Warriors had
been on a roll. Bouncing back from a disappointing 6-1 loss against the North
Central Predators on Friday, the team posted a 5-3 win over Toledo Cherokee and
then a huge 9-5 decision over GB Junior Gramblers.
In that final regulation game, the Warriors scored four
times in the first (three coming off the stick of Evan MacDonald), two times in
the second and three times in the third period.
Currently undefeated in MSYHL play with an 8-0-2 record, the
Warriors will have just one week of rest and practice before they face off
against the only team standing above them in the league standings – Middlesex Braves.
With 12 league wins thus far, the Braves will take on the Warriors on Saturday,
November 13th in East Boston.
here for complete results for the VJW ’98 Elites.
VJW '99 Elites
Competing in a division featuring 16 of the top 25 teams in the United States
and four out of the top 10 from Ontario, the ’99 VJW Elites battled valiantly against some
intense firepower in the form of Ajax Pickering Raiders, Wisconsin Fire and the
Philadelphia Junior Flyers.
being blanked by the Raiders in the first game of the tournament, the Warriors
took on the Wisconsin Fire in a highly anticipated second game. Although not
yet ranked nationally (they need to play five games), the new program was
predicted to battle for the top spot in this year's tournament. The Warriors kept it close throughout
thanks to key tallies by Michael McGreal, Craig Needham and Matthew Quercia.
In its final game
against the 13th-ranked Philadelphia Junior Flyers, the Warriors hung
tough but eventually fell by a score of 4-1. Needham netted his second goal of
Looking forward, the Warriors will hope to improve on its
5-5-2 NEHL record this month as they will take on the Spartans and Falcons,
teams ranked just ahead of the Warriors in the league standings.
here for complete results for the VJW ’99 Elites.