A Champion That Almost Wasn’t

Jul 5, 2022 | John Klinck


How the 2011-born Connecticut Jr. Rangers won a Brick tournament that never should’ve happened

The 2011 birth year didn’t think they would ever get a chance to play in The Brick.

No event took place last summer because of COVID-19, so the tournament is hosting both the 2011 and 2012 birth years this time around.

When the opportunity arose to play in the iconic youth hockey tournament, the final two teams made sure to make the rescheduled event last as long as possible.

The Connecticut Jr. Rangers ended up prevailing in overtime over the Western Selects Sunday morning in the championship game. It is the first of two Brick Invitational events taking place at the West Edmonton Mall this month.

It was a wild championship affair on Sunday, as the Jr. Rangers stormed back from a 2-0 deficit by scoring three unanswered goals to win the title.

Rhys Del Giacco gets the credit for the game-winner, as he sent a shot from outside the circles through a crowd and past goaltender Aydan Jones at the 7:33 mark of the extra period.

Justin Corey and Charlie Severo scored the goals in regulation for the Jr. Rangers, a squad that finished the tournament on a six-game winning streak to win it all.

They started the tournament with a 3-2 loss to the Toronto Bulldogs on the morning of June 29,  but from there, the Connecticut squad was unbeatable.

It started with a bounce-back game the same day, when they beat the Saskatchewan Jr. Pats 4-3. Then, they shut out Team Pennsylvania 5-0 and beat Toronto Pro Hockey 2-1 on June 30. 

On July 1, the Jr. Rangers wrapped up round-robin play with a 5-2 win over the BC Junior Canucks to storm into the elimination rounds.

In the quarterfinals, Connecticut played Toronto Pro Hockey again, and once again beat them 2-1. In the semifinals, they registered their second shutout of the tournament, blanking Team Minnesota 3-0 to earn a spot in the title bout.

It was certainly a team tournament victory, as the Jr. Rangers used a balanced scoring attack to march through the summer showcase. Nobody on the Connecticut roster registered more than a point-per-game average, with Jackson Liao and Jack Cross leading the team in scoring with eight points in eight games. 

Justin Corey and Charlie Severo both registered seven points apiece, while Sebastian Blanchard had six, Peter Lyden had five, and Preston Hebert had four. All but one of the skaters on the Jr. Rangers roster found the scoresheet in the tournament.

James Hickey and David Stefaniak took care of the crease duties for the Rangers during the week-long tournament. Hickey played in seven games, finishing with a .910 save percentage, a 1.25 goals-against average, and one solo shutout. Stefaniak appeared in three contests, finishing with a .770 save percentage and a 2.83 goals-against average.

Hickey had the task of shutting down a high-powered offense for the Western Selects, who featured four of the top five scorers in the tournament. Brody Trost finished with a tournament-best 15 points in seven games, while Charlie Fox had 13, Zylas Gabio had 12 and Brando Duncan had 11. 

Duncan and Fox were the two players who found the back of the net for the Selects, but it wasn’t enough to top the Jr. Rangers.

The other player in the top five of the scoring race was Maxwell Prudovsky of the Boston Jr. Bruins, who registered an impressive 11 points in only five games. He led the tournament with a 2.20 points-per-game average.

Aydan Jones, the goaltender for the Western Selects, finished with an impressive 2.52 goals-against average and .850 save percentage in his five games in the tournament. 

While the 2011 birth-year now heads home, the action at the West Edmonton Mall is still going strong, as the 2012 birth-year kicks things off on July 4. WHH will have continued coverage of the event, so be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for more!

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