Defense Wins Silver Stick Championship

Jan 9, 2023 | Craig Peterson

2023-International-Silver-Stick-2008-Vaughan-Kings-Championship

‘08 Vaughan Kings surrender just five goals against to win International Silver Stick for second straight year

Five teams — two American and three Canadian — entered the 2008-born International Silver Stick tournament in their respective WHH Top-10 Rankings on Thursday. All of them would survive pool play before clashing in the single-elimination playoffs over the weekend, including the No. 1-ranked Vaughan Kings

Ranked No. 1 in the world among U14 teams, Vaughan came into the tournament as winners of 17 in a row. On top of that, they hadn’t allowed a single goal against in four straight games. That impeccable defensive effort would continue throughout their weekend at Silver Sticks. If it sounds familiar, it’s because the Kings won last year’s U13 tournament in Whitby as well.

Running a championship back at one of the most iconic youth hockey tournaments in North America is no easy feat. This year’s run by Vaughan was an historic one though.

Vaughan Proves To Be Kings Of The Defensive Zone

Before Silver Sticks, the Kings had posted four consecutive shutouts, including a 3-0 victory over No. 6 York Simcoe Express. When tournament action started on Thursday, they picked up right where they left off with an 8-0 shutout of the Pittsburgh Predators and 7-0 shutout of Fox Motors.  

The scoreless streak would be snapped by unranked Barrie Colts on Friday, when they took the Kings to a 2-2 tie.

Pool play concluded with Vaughan earning a top seed in the playoffs. Joining them would be four other teams ranked in their respective Top 10s. In fact, the Kings’ quarterfinal matchup drew No. 10 Peterborough Petes on Saturday night. An opponent that Vaughan defeated 4-2 on Dec. 9th, the playoff rematch followed a similar script with a 3-1 decision this time.

The Soo Jr. Greyhounds defeated No. 8-ranked Toronto Jr. Canadiens in the opposite quarterfinal. The Jr. Greyhounds — a bubble team just on the outside of our latest rankings — boosted their resume with a strong outing, including the 2-1 win over Toronto. That position the Soo in the Kings’ path in a stellar final four matchup. Vaughan again got it done at both ends, winning with its third shutout of the tournament 4-0.

In the championship stood the No. 2 team in the U.S., Chicago Mission. They knocked off No. 5-ranked and cross-town rival Windy City Storm in the quarterfinals, before defeating the Toronto Marlboros in the semifinals.

It only took one goal in the championship, as the Kings ended the tournament the way they started it, with a shutout, 1-0 over Chicago. 

All-American Final in the 2010 Division

The two top-10 teams in the U.S. clashed for 2010 supremacy at Silver Sticks. No. 4 Chicago Mission edged out No. 5 Little Caesars 4-2 in the finale. Mission finished the weekend with a 6-0-1 record in Port Huron. Their final five games of the tournament were all decided by two goals or fewer as the battle-tested top-10 team grinded its way to a Silver Stick championship.

Mission rounded out pool play escaping a Top-10 matchup against No. 9 Buffalo Jr. Sabres with a 2-0 win. Then, they avoided an upset with a 5-3 victory over Brantford 99ers to advance to the elimination rounds. 

In the playoffs, Mission edge out cross-town rival and No. 10-ranked Chicago Fury 4-3 Saturday afternoon. On championship Sunday, they had just enough to eliminate the No. 1 team in Canada, Toronto Jr. Canadiens with a 4-3 final. The other half of the bracket saw Little Caesars eliminate the Markham Majors by the same 4-3 score. 

The championship between two top teams in America featured plenty of drama. It was the third  time these two teams had met this season. Each team claiming a win in the series, the rubber match would not only tilt the scales but earn some hardware as well.. A 4-2 finish gave Chicago the Silver Stick championship, and a sixth consecutive game decided by a narrow margin. 

They’re a battle-tested bunch, with 34 of their 51 games decided by two goals or fewer. Comfortable in close games, Mission’s composure paid off big time over the weekend, winning the Silver Stick championship.
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