Top programs in action at multiple events over the weekend
Elite American teams within the 2007 birth year aren’t wasting any time battling each other as the 15-Only age group begins its junior draft season. In fact, a few of them even gathered at the home of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program (USNTDP) this past weekend to skate in front of the organization’s scouts and coaches.
The Mid-Fairfield Jr. Rangers, Chicago Mission, Pittsburgh Penguins Elite, Bishop Kearney Selects, L.A. Jr. Kings and Minnesota Blades all took part in a collection of games dubbed the NTDP Showcase at USA Hockey Arena. If the final standings are any indication, we’re going to be in for a hell of a youth hockey season at the ever important 15-only age group.
This puck movement and player positioning by the Mid Fairfield Rangers on some 4-on-4 play is something to marvel at. pic.twitter.com/xT1Q5gxujt— Chase Allen (@ChaseAllen03) September 9, 2022
Mid-Fairfield finished with a 3-1-1 record over five games, while nobody else finished with a winning record. Penguins Elite, BK Selects and Chicago Mission all finished with 2-2-1 marks, while the Kings and the Blades both finished 2-3.
MFJR may have finished with the best record, but they were in tight games all weekend. The Jr. Rangers recorded wins over the Blades (3-2) and Penguins (3-2) on Day 1 of the showcase, and then beat Mission 4-3 on Saturday. Their tie came against the BK Selects on Sunday, while Mid-Fairfield’s lone loss came to the Kings Saturday.
Mission and the Penguins tied 3-3 when they squared off on Sunday. Chicago’s victories came against the Kings and the Minnesota Blades, the latter of which was an 8-1 thumping. The Penguins, meanwhile, beat the Kings 2-0 and beat the Blades 3-2.
Continuing the convoluted matrix of who beat who, the BK Selects beat Mission and Pittsburgh, both with 3-0 finals.
Statistics from the weekend are not readily available just yet, but gaudy numbers will come from the star power on all of these rosters. What the weekend did tell us is the battles that will be fought across the country this season will be fun to watch, and the USA Hockey National Championship will be must-see youth hockey.
Little Caesars, Victory Honda, Compuware separate from pack in MI
While the six programs above came to Metro Detroit for a big weekend’s worth of games, Michigan’s 15-only teams were skating at the Troy Sports Center — roughly a 45-minute drive away from USA Hockey Arena — in the first of two MAHA Tier-1 Showcase events.
All of the 14U, 15O, 16U and 18U teams in Michigan gathered for a showcase at the four-sheet facility, and Little Caesars, Victory Honda and Compuware established themselves as teams to beat in the 15O age group in the Great Lakes State.
While they didn’t play everybody, Little Caesars won all three of its games by a combined 23-3 at the Showcase for an early-season statement against in-state rivals.
They opened the birth year’s showcase weekend with a 5-0 blanking of rival HoneyBaked on Friday afternoon, before prevailing over Fox Motors 5-2 on Saturday.
On Sunday, they really took care of business, beating Belle Tire 13-1.
They weren’t the only team to play to a 3-0 record, however. Victory Honda and Compuware did the same, both finishing with a 12-goal differential in the process.
VH started things off with a 4-1 win over the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies, before registering a 6-1 win over Belle Tire and a 5-1 win over Biggby Coffee.
Compuware, meanwhile, started with a 7-1 win over Biggby before beating HoneyBaked 4-1 and Fox Motors 5-2.
Those three undefeated teams from the MAHA Showcase weekend will all meet throughout the season, and we’re especially interested to see what happens when they meet in the December edition of the All-Michigan showcase.
Omaha Mastery wins Steel Ice Breaker
While the ’07 birth year was busy in Michigan, even more were in action in Illinois this weekend as well. as Teams came to another Original Six city to compete in the Chicago Steel Ice Breaker tournament, hosted by SuperSeries AAA.
Omaha Mastery prevailed in the 15O division of the early-season tournament, playing to a perfect 5-0 record on the weekend.
They started with a 4-3 win over Team Illinois on Friday, followed by a 7-2 win over the Milwaukee Jr. Admirals later that day. On Saturday, they put up seven again, this time against Team Wisconsin.
In the playoffs, they continued their dominance, as Omaha posted a 6-1 win over the Minnesota Lakers in the semifinals, and a 4-2 win over the Chicago Fury in the finals.
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