To be the best, you must play the best. That is exactly what the Valley Junior Warriors did this past weekend as six Warrior squads traveled to Chicago to take part in the 2007 Nike Bauer International Invitational. This annual event is a true test of the world’s best AAA amateur hockey talent as it brings together 280 teams and 5,500 players for 630 games at 15 hockey arenas. In addition to the Warriors and a host of other national powerhouses, the event featured teams from Canada, Russia and Slovenia.
While the Warriors did not bring home any trophies, they proved that teams from the Northeast can compete with the nation’s best… even in the Windy City!
Here is a rundown on how the Valley Junior Warriors fared at the 2007 Nike Bauer International Invitational, held on November 2-4 in Chicago, Illinois.
After a rocky start in which the team dropped three straight games, the Warriors waited until the end to find the winning touch. On Sunday afternoon, the team edged Chicago Fury by a score of 5-4. The Warriors were paced by five different goal scorers and a strong performance by netminder Beau Collins. Finding the back of the net for the ’96 Elites were Nolan Redler, Patrick Sweeney, Brendan Leach, Jimmy Currier and Brian Raimo. The contest came down to the final minutes as the Fury managed to pull even at the 11:07 mark of the third period. It was just two seconds later when Raimo deposited the eventual game winner to propel the team to a dramatic final-day win!
Although the ’95 Elites were able to score only one win in the difficult Pee Wee Major Division, the team has a lot to look forward to as the season presses on. The team has suffered a string of injuries during the early part of the season and is just beginning to show signs of healing and progress. Heading into the tournament, Coach Bill Franzese noted that the squad was starting to play well in all three zones and that the kids were excited to test their talents against the best Chicago had to offer. The highlight of the tournament was a 6-3 win over TPH Thunder on Friday afternoon. Craig Wallace and Cam O’Neill each scored two goals, while Tommy Potter and David Belluche added a goal in the victory.
The team played four games and posted two wins and two losses. Not too shabby for the ’94 Elites, a team that currently stands at the top of its New England Hockey League Division. While in Chicago, the team came out firing with a 2-0 blanking of the St. Louis Amateur Blues. Michael Cusack and Casey Shea scored a goal to lead the way. Following two straight losses – including a heartbreaking 6-5 loss against the San Jose Jr Sharks on Saturday – the team bounced back with a 2-1 victory over the TPH Thunder. In that contest, it was Nick Owen and Sam Kurker who played the role of hero with one goal each.
’93 Elites & Selects
One year ago, the ’93 Elites went 5-0 to advance to the semifinals of this event! That impressive performance marked the best performance posted by a Valley Junior Warriors team in recent memory. Although the team was unable to go undefeated this time around, they did finish with a 1-2-1 record. The ’93 Selects squad, meanwhile, was the top performer for the Valley Junior Warriors. The team finished with 2-2-1 record. This past summer, the team fell to the Philadelphia Jr Flyers in the finals of the 2007 Warrior National Showcase. Despite the ’93 Selects impressive performance, the Warriors finished in second place in the division behind the Toronto Jr. Canadiens. The Canadiens thus earned the right to move on to the divisional playoffs.
The Warriors posted an important, event-ending 3-1 win against the Mercer Chiefs American team in the consolation round. Cameron Fitzpatrick evened the score at 1-1 at the 12:26 mark of the second period. That tally proved to be the momentum builder as the team went on to outscore Mercer by a 2-0 margin in the third period. Scoring for the Warriors in that third period were Kyle McElroy and Steve Caruso. John Busa and Frank McCormick shared netminder duties to secure the victory for the Warriors.