Little Caesars becomes just the second American team to win top-level Canadian tournament
One of the premier U11 and U10 — formerly referred to Squirt-level — tournaments in Canada, the 2022 Drew Doughty Invitational crowned a pair of champions over the weekend. The host team, London Jr. Knights won the 2012 age group with a 6-0-0 record; American participant Little Caesars took the 2013 championship back across the U.S.-Canada border to its home in Detroit, Michigan.
Two pools of eight teams competed in the 2013 Division. Little Caesars was the lone American representative at the tournament with the other 15 participants hailing from all corners of Ontario. Caesars dominated Group B, out-scoring opponents 56-2 in four games with forwards Cameron Coombe, Colin Kim, Parker Miller and Luke Merdinian leading the way. They accounted for 80 percent of the team’s offense over the weekend, and earned Caesars the top seed in a four-team playoff.
They were joined by second-place Elgin-Middlesex Canucks out of Group B, while the Toronto Young Nationals and Quinte Red Devils came out of Group A.
Even when the field was whittled down to the four best teams, Caesars was still able to exert its dominance. They defeated Quinte handedly in the semifinal and topped the Young Nats four hours later to win the championship.
It was the seventh annual Drew Doughty Invitational, and just the second time that an American team has won the championship. New York-based, ‘08-born Long Island Gulls won the tournament in 2018.
Host Jr. Knights Hang on to Doughty Championship
The older group — 2012s — was also split into two groups of eight teams. Again, Little Caesars was the lone American team competing against 15 Canadian clubs. The Host team, London Jr. Knights, went 4-0-0 in group play, claiming the No. 1 seed in the process. They were joined in the playoffs by Caesars, who also went undefeated in Group A.
Elgin-Middlesex Canucks and Halton Hurricanes, on the other hand, came out of Group B. A 4-0-0 record gave EMC the No. 1 seed, while a 3-3 tie left Halton as the lowest-ranked team to advance to the four-team playoff.
Both semifinals resulted in one-goal games, with EMC defeating Caesars 4-3 and the Jr. Knights surviving a 3-2 scare over Halton. The all-Canadian championship, however, was not nearly as nerve-racking. London ended the weekend the way it started, with a shutout of its opponent in the form of a 5-0 win over the Canucks.
According to the tournament website, the Drew Doughty Invitational is committed to presenting the pre-eminent U10/U11 hockey tournament in North America. This commitment to excellence is reflected in the tournament committee, their sponsors, the London Jr. Knights and, of course, in Drew Doughty’s name.
The most memorable experience for young minor hockey players is competing in tournaments, traveling with their families and spending time with teammates that create bonds that last a lifetime.
Proceeds from the tournament are split equally between the Jr. Knights and Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southwestern Ontario.