Bryce Wiitala and Charlie Puglisi Headline Big Names To Know

The Mini-Chowder Cup concluded on Sunday, crowning champions at the 2007- and 2008-birth years. This New England-based event is one of the highlights of summer hockey on the East Coast, with a series of tournaments for several age groups including the Mini (‘07 and ‘08), the Junior (‘05 and ‘06) and the classic, Senior Chowder Cup (‘01, ‘02, ‘03 and ‘04). 

Sixty-six teams took the ice in Foxboro, Massachusetts, on Friday. Boston Hockey Club won the 2008 Division and NorthStar Elite took the 2007 Division. Following its conclusion, tournament directors acknowledged some of the standouts from the weekend with its All-Tournament Teams.

2007 Standouts

Most Valuable Player: Bryce Wiitala, NorthStar Elite

After scoring six goals in the first four games of the tournament, Wiitala tacked on three more tallies in the playoffs for a total of 12 points in seven games. He saved his biggest performance for the biggest game of the weekend, scoring two goals and two assists, including the game-winner in NorthStar’s 5-4 overtime victory against Coaches’ Choice.

Goalie: Aidan Kaiser, NorthStar Elite

Defense: Donato Bracco, Coaches’ Choice

Defense: Kyle Heger, NorthStar Elite

Forward: Mason Minsky, NorthStar Elite

Forward: Cooper Dennis, Coaches’ Choice

Forward: Marko Lisica, Coaches’ Choice

2008 Standouts

Most Valuable Player: Charlie Puglisi, Boston Hockey Club

One of the more steady players throughout the tournament for Boston Hockey Club, Puglisi compiled one goal and six points through the first four games. He added three more points in the playoffs, as BHC rolled to a championship on Sunday courtesy of one of the largest goal differentials in the entire tournament at plus-41. 

Goalie: Carson Mertz, Boston Hockey Club

Defense: Nolan Nassar, Boston Hockey Club

Defense: Will Bent, Boston Jr. Blues

Forward: Luca Cannata, Boston Hockey Club

Forward: Caleb Romph, Boston Jr. Blues

Forward: Joe Iginla, Boston Jr. Blues

The Chowder Cup series continues on July 22nd, with the College and Junior-A Divisions taking center stage. Top prospects and teams are expected to be on-hand and World Hockey Hub will be on top of the action at the Senior-Chowder Cup. Be sure to connect with us on Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook for the latest content!

Iconic summer event is one of the first to return after year-long, nationwide pause

It’s supposed to be Canada’s game. For the better part of a fiscal year, though, it was one thing Canadians were restricted from partaking in. Whether it was at ice arenas, local rinks, frozen ponds or ODR’s in the backyard. It didn’t matter if they were high-ranking junior leagues, youth leagues or city rec leagues. The COVID-19 pandemic put the brakes on the game of hockey nationwide, in an unprecedented way. 

After nearly 16 months without hockey — among many, many other things — Canada has slowly begun to return to normalcy, as rinks begin to open fully and players get back on the ice.

It was a year where two of the country’s premier youth events were canceled, with the PeeWee Quebec in February and The Brick earlier this month in Edmonton. So when the puck dropped at the Montreal Meltdown, the 29-year-old event was a symbolic beam of hope for hundreds of hockey families.

“Amazing,” said tournament founder Dave Harroch. “People just want to play hockey. We don’t care, we just want our kids to play hockey. It feels like we’re normal again.”

Started in 1993 with just 11 teams, the Meltdown has swelled to more than 300 boys and girls teams across 11 age groups in a typical year. While Canadians have gotten the go-ahead to return to hockey, travel restrictions and closed borders still limit the 2021 event in some capacity. No American teams were admitted, and a field that usually consists of participants from countries around the world were limited to the provinces of Ontario and Quebec.

That’s okay to Harroch and the current field of teams; they’re just happy to be back on the ice.

“Up ‘til last week, we were limited to 25 fans per game,” he said. “As of this past Monday, we’re up to 50. We’re lucky enough to have LiveBarn in the venues to provide streaming for parents and people who couldn’t get in as well.”

The country, like the rest of the world, is not completely in the clear. Precautions are expected to continue for the foreseeable future, and any remaining restrictions will continue to be levied slowly. Harroch and his team have followed any and all protocols throughout the process in an effort to deliver high-quality and safe events to participants.

July 2nd marked the official start of the Montreal Meltdown, with five Girls’ Divisions competing on opening weekend. Over the next four weekends, more than 400 games will take place, before closing out festivities on August 2nd at the Pierrefonds Sportsplex. 

The month-long tournament will see hundreds of teams and families finally able to satisfy their hunger for hockey. What’s the expression? ‘Absence makes the heart grow fonder.’ After nearly a year-and-a-half hiatus, Canadians can be summed up in three words. 

“We’re just happy,” said Harroch.

Want more from the world of youth hockey? Be sure to connect with us on Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook for the latest news, features and more!

DraftDay-Black completes defense of title as World Selects champions, goes back-to-back in 2019 and 2021

NASHVILLE — DraftDay-Black won the 2019 World Selects championship at the 15U age level, and after the tournament’s one-year hiatus in 2020, the program returned to defend its title as the best at the age group. 

The 2021 World Selects Trophy concluded on Friday with the ‘06 Elite championship game at the Ford Ice Center in Bellevue. It was the 64th game in five days, and the matchup in the finale pitted the No. 1 Everest Academy against No. 2 team DraftDay-Black. 

Top-seeded Everest Academy was a perfect 8-0 heading into the final. Forward Tyron Fevry led the team in scoring and was one of the top scorers in the entire tournament with nine goals and 15 points through eight games. Teammate Jack Dean came on in the elimination rounds as well, as he produced six of his 10 points in the first three rounds of playoffs. Goaltender Easton Rye played 143:33 of action in the tournament before finally surrendering a goal in the second half of the semifinal game against the Detroit Jr. Red Wings. Rye, like most of Canada, had not played game action in almost a full calendar year, yet shined in his return to the ice with three shutouts and a .966 save percentage.

No. 2-seeded DraftDay-Black featured a star-studded lineup of top 2006-born prospects including a trio of Minnesota natives Max Plante, Ben Miller and Henry Lechner. Plante’s playmaking ability and distribution of the puck allowed him to lead the tournament in assists (nine) and fueled DraftDay’s top line to a combined total of 18 goals.

The squad dropped just one game the entire tournament; a 2-1 shootout decision at the hands of Exposure Hockey. Vlad Bryzgalov maintained a 0.50 goals-against average and .966 save percentage, second only to opposing championship net minder Rye at the other end of the ice. Bryzgalov split starts with Jackson Silverberg, who also posted an impressive 0.80 goals-against average and .957 save percentage in the tournament. 

Just 1:39 into the game, DraftDay’s Cal Hughes opened the scoring with a wrist shot past Andrew Gaulton. Everest — as it had done much of the tournament — was quick to respond just over a minute later when defenseman Ty Henry fired a wrist shot past Silverberg. 

The first half of the contest featured chances from both teams in what proved to be a physical matchup. It seemed like every pass or shot attempt was quickly followed by an opposing player finishing their check on an opponent. 

With just under eight minutes left in the first half, defenseman Adam Kleber made an impressive forehand-backhand move to get around a defender, and snapped off a shot to make it 2-1 for DraftDay. The opening 20 minutes concluded with great pace, as both teams traded scoring chances.

However, a three-minute stretch to begin the second half would blow the game wide open, leaving DraftDay with a stranglehold on the game and Everest reeling.

Goals by Logan Hensler, Henry Brzustewicz, Cal Hughes and Max Plante came in rapid succession; the first of the sequence coming less than three minutes apart from the last tally. Just 2:52 of game action and the score swelled from a one-goal battle to a five-goal deficit.

Chase Nyitray delivered the final blow with just under five minutes to play, before the clock counted down the final seconds and DraftDay-Black completed its 15U title defense.

The victory signified the conclusion of the tournament which featured players from three different countries, including Barys from Eastern Europe. A week filled with competition throughout the 20-team field. There were 29 games decided by two goals or less, including 13 by way of overtime or shootout.

The 2021 World Selects Trophy proved to be one of the biggest showcases of talent at the 15U age level. WHH will have tons of continued coverage and more content from the event coming your way including photos, highlights, player interviews and more. Be sure to connect with us on Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook for the latest content!

Final Placement and Bracket Seeding For Elimination Rounds

NASHVILLE — Pool play concluded on Wednesday as all 20 participating teams completed their five-game schedules. The top 16 teams based on points in the standings would advance to the elimination rounds on Thursday. With plenty of movement still possible, some teams managed to play their way into the Field of 16 while others were essentially eliminated from contention by the end of the day. 

With pool play completed, the official playoff bracket is as follows:

Ontario-based Everest Academy earned the top seed after a 5-0 record, including four regulation-time victories, earning 14 points in the standings. Standout forward Tyron Fevry is tied for the tournament lead in goals with seven and has factored in on eight of Everest’s 24 goals.

DraftDay-Black was the only other team to remain unbeaten in regulation, suffering just one shootout loss at the hands of Exposure Hockey. That shootout decision helped propel Exposure into the playoff picture, as Tij Iginla and Gavin Cornforth helped pick up two wins in the final day of pool play to sneak in as the 13-seed.

Walker Bright is the tournament’s leading scorer after Wednesday. He and teammate Matthew Frost combine to be the highest-producing duo at the event with 18 points between the pair. After posting a 4-1 record, Bright and Frost have elevated Bloodline Hockey to the No. 3-seed in the tournament as a strong contender for the elimination rounds.

All-American Prospects forward Ryker Lee had a big day with three goals and seven points. Three consecutive wins by AAP moved them into the No. 7-seed for Thursday for a matchup with Upstate Kings.

With the field now set for Thursday, the tournament will proceed with Round-of-16 and Quarterfinal games, whittling the remaining teams down to just four by the end of the day. Semifinals and championship games will conclude on Friday before the World Selects Trophy crowns its 2021 champion.

WHH will have continued coverage of the event including photos, highlights, player interviews and more. Be sure to connect with us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube for the latest content!

Interviews and highlights from top players and teams in the tournament

NASHVILLE — We’re past the halfway point of pool play at the 2021 World Selects Trophy after participating teams pulled double duty on Tuesday. The entire field now has three games under their respective belts, with just two games left on Wednesday before the Group of 16 is set for playoffs.

If Monday’s close games were any indication of how little separates the 20 teams from one another, Tuesday only validated the competition level in Nashville. There were 11 more games decided by two goals or fewer, with five more decided by way of shootout. Among those thrilling finishes was this beauty from Detroit Jr. Red Wings forward Brecken Smith.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by World Hockey Hub (@worldhockeyhub)

That shootout victory was the second time the Jr. Wings were able to win in such fashion, as they are currently 3-0 and in good position to advance to the elimination rounds.

We also caught up with several standout players from the 2006-birth year, including one of the tournament’s leading scorers, Ben Miller of DraftDay-Black.

The 6-foot-2 forward out of Woodbury, Minnesota, is tied atop the scoring list with six goals and seven points through three games. Only Bloodline’s Walker Bright and Barys’ Abzal Alibek have been able to match him. Alibek exploded in the first game of the tournament with four goals against TPH Selects. He followed up that impressive performance with another goal against Black Bear Selects and two goals in a 3-1 win over NXT Level Hockey to lead all scorers with seven goals.

Ford Ice Center in Antioch experienced a flurry of high-scoring affairs, with back-to-back games resulting in opponents combining to produce 11 total goals. Southeast Elite tallied five unanswered in the second half against NXT Level Hockey to pull off a stunning come-from-behind 6-5 victory. That game featured eight different goal scorers, headlined by a three-point performance from Southeast’s Tyler Fortson.

Just a few hours later, Elite Hockey Group defeated the Brooklyn Knighthawks, matching that same total with a 6-5 finish of their own. That contest has nine different goal scorers, one of whom was EHG’s Joseph Delaurentis who has a goal in every game so far. 

Nearly half the field has a goal differential of plus-or-minus three goals — one goal for each game played thus far — and only one of the 20 teams in the field has won all three games in regulation time. It has been an impressively competitive tournament just past the halfway point of pool play, and intensity will certainly pick up on Wednesday as teams try to squeeze their way into the playoff picture.

WHH will have continued coverage of the event including photos, highlights, player interviews and more. Be sure to connect with us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube for the latest content!

Elite Tournament Gets Underway With A Barrage Of Close Games

NASHVILLE — The 12th annual World Selects Trophy kicked off on Monday from the Ford Ice Center. It was a return to the rink after a one-year hiatus for the perennial spring tournament series. Like many events, the WST experienced a pause in action in 2020 thanks to COVID-19. Also like many events recently, it returned to the spotlight, ready for prime time in the Music City with 20 of the best 2006-born teams from around the world.

A slate of 64 games began with an 8:30 a.m. tilt between NSHDA Midwest Elite and NorthStar Elite-Minnesota. That ignited a continuous cycle of games on Rink 1 and Rink 2 at the Bellevue location that’ll culminate with the championship game on Friday afternoon.

Of the 10 games on Monday, eight of the 10 games were decided by two goals or fewer, with three of those needing a shootout to determine a winner. The day’s festivities concluded with a remarkable opening ceremony, filled with a live band on the ice, player introductions, video presentations and light shows as teams entered the playing surface. Parents and spectators enjoyed food and cocktails on the concourse of the Ford Ice Center, overlooking the energy in the rink below.

Nash County Band performs at center ice at the 2021 World Selects Trophy opening ceremonies to a packed Ford Ice Center Crowd.

As Nash County Band performed at center ice, captains from each of the participating teams were recognized in front of a packed crowd. Then, emcee Cam McGuire, broadcasting voice of the Worcester Railers, officially announced the tournament was underway and the featured game of the evening could take place between DraftDay-Black and All-American Prospects.

Some early standouts after Day One include dominant individual performances, offensive outings and stellar play in net. First, a 6-2 victory by NXT Level Hockey, where Dillon Rud recorded a hat trick and teammate Camerin Cardona added a three-point performance of his own. The duo from NXT is tied for the lead in points after Day One. Then, in the featured game, Ben Miller scored four of DraftDay-Black’s seven goals; he currently leads the tournament in points after the first round of games.

Goaltender Aidan Rasmussen defends the DH Blizzard net in a game at the 2021 World Selects Trophy in Nashville.

Other notable performances include a 24-save shutout by Aidan Rasmussen, who backstopped his DHI Blizzard squad to a 2-0 win over Exposure Hockey. DHI is the only team so far to keep its opponent off the scoreboard.

Abzel Alibek from Kazakhstan also produced a four-goal game in his tournament debut for Barys. He scored three first-period goals and added another in the second to help his team defeat TPH Selects 6-4. 

Games continue on Tuesday with 20 matchups on the docket. WHH will have continued coverage of the event including photos, highlights, player interviews and more. Be sure to connect with us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube for more!

A closer look at each of the 20 teams participating at the 2021 World Selects Trophy.

The ‘20 in 20’ series takes a deep dive into each of the 20 teams competing at the historic World Selects Trophy in Nashville, Tennessee on June 28th. This 15U tournament is set to feature the best players in the age group from around the world with players from the U.S., Canada and Europe. Today, we take a closer look at Everest Academy.

EVEREST ACADEMY

Located in Vaughan, Ontario, Canada, Everest Academy is a co-ed private school for student-athletes. Regardless of a student’s passion, Everest provides a challenging, stimulating, safe and supportive learning environment where individuals strive to exceed their potential. Karl Subban, father of NHL Draft picks P.K., Jordan and Malcolm, serves as principal of the academy that boasts a number of other NHL and college alumni. Citing seven NHL Draft picks and more than 80 Canadian Hockey League (CHL) picks as well, Everest has seen the likes of Anthony Duclair (1995), Ben Jones (1999) and Kirill Maximov (1999) in recent years. 

The academy serves as a training ground during the school day, allowing for players to compete for their local youth teams during the regular season. The 2021 tournament team is composed of players from the Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL), with 13-of-17 coming from the Markham Majors

Canada has been in a fairly restricted shutdown throughout much of the last year, and many players in Ontario lost their entire 2020-21 winter seasons. The World Selects tournament could quite possibly be a return to action for many of the Canadian players in the field.

WHH is providing exclusive coverage of the 2021 World Selects Trophy. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube for the latest news regarding the international tournament later this month.

A closer look at each of the 20 teams participating at the 2021 World Selects Trophy.

The ‘20 in 20’ series takes a deep dive into each of the 20 teams competing at the historic World Selects Trophy in Nashville, Tennessee on June 28th. This 15U tournament is set to feature the best players in the age group from around the world with players from the U.S., Canada and Europe. Today, we take a closer look at Barys.

BARYS

One of the European-based teams in the field, Barys is composed primarily of players from the Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, area. The roster has been subsidized with North American players like Aidan Pustizzi, Ben Sonkin and Cooper Hill from the Nashville Jr. Predators. Forwards Karim Kazhibekov and Abzal Alibek provide good size up front as a pair of 6-footers and the defensive group maintains good balance throughout the pairings.

The 2021 event will be the third time Barys has crossed the Atlantic to compete in a North American World Selects event. They have yet to qualify for the elimination rounds but will a smaller field and a new location change the program’s fortunes in the States?

WHH is providing exclusive coverage of the 2021 World Selects Trophy. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube for the latest news regarding the international tournament later this month.

A closer look at each of the 20 teams participating at the 2021 World Selects Trophy.

The ‘20 in 20’ series takes a deep dive into each of the 20 teams competing at the historic World Selects Trophy in Nashville, Tennessee on June 28th. This 15U tournament is set to feature the best players in the age group from around the world with players from the U.S., Canada and Europe. Today, we take a closer look at DraftDay Red.

DRAFTDAY RED

One of two teams entered into the field by DraftDay Hockey, the Red squad has plenty of talent in its own right. Finn Wilson is an excellent goaltender out of the Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL). He alone will give DraftDay Red a strong chance in every tournament game he takes the net. With enough firepower up front, the team could be in good shape to make a run. Defenseman Logan Hurd has been described as a manchild on the back end after having an exceptional season for the Mid-Fairfield Jr. Rangers. His regular-season teammate Andrew DellaSalla is capable of making an impact on the forecheck as well.

DraftDay has been a regular participant in the World Selects tournament series in both North America and abroad, boasting such prospects as Matthew Savoie (2004), Rutger McGroarty (2004), Lante Hutson (2004) and Conor Bedard (2005), among many others. They’re also no stranger to entering multiple teams into the field and having both find success, doing so in each of the previous three North American events. 

WHH is providing exclusive coverage of the 2021 World Selects Trophy. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube for the latest news regarding the international tournament later this month.

A closer look at each of the 20 teams participating at the 2021 World Selects Trophy.

The ‘20 in 20’ series takes a deep dive into each of the 20 teams competing at the historic World Selects Trophy in Nashville, Tennessee on June 28th. This 15U tournament is set to feature the best players in the age group from around the world with players from the U.S., Canada and Europe. Today, we take a closer look at DraftDay Black.

DRAFTDAY BLACK

The reigning and defending World Selects champion, DraftDay Black won the 2019 title with the help of top 2004 prospects like Rutger McGroarty and Lane Hutson. Both have gone on to play for the U.S. National Team Development Program, and DraftDay looks towards its next crop of rising stars for the 2021 event. If successful, the team could be the first in history to win back-to-back North American 15U championships.

It’ll be a tall task, but DraftDay has certainly reloaded with the ‘06 age group. Lane’s younger brother Cole Hutson is a top player in his own right after playing last winter with the North Jersey Avalanche. Minnesota’s Max Plante and L.A. Jr. Kings’ Colin Frank are considered top forwards in the birth year as well, so DD-Black is set to be fueled by a high-powered offense, again

Vladi Bryzgalov is widely considered the top goaltender in the U.S., posting stellar numbers during his 14U season for the New Jersey Colonials. Pairing lights out goaltending with a potent offense, and DraftDay Black will be hard to keep up with.

DraftDay has been a regular participant in the World Selects tournament series in both North America and abroad, boasting such prospects as Matthew Savoie (2004) and Conor Bedard (2005), among many others.This year, the program will put two teams into the tournament field with a Black and a Red team.

WHH is providing exclusive coverage of the 2021 World Selects Trophy. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube for the latest news regarding the international tournament later this month.