Food, family…and face-offs?
In what has become a tradition in the youth hockey world, the weekend following American Thanksgiving has become perhaps the biggest tournament weekend of the season. Turkey dinners, family gatherings, Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, and a whole lot of hockey action across the country.
It’s a wonderful way to skate off the turkey hangover, and it seems like each and every year, more and more teams are getting in on the Thanksgiving action.
When we say there was a remarkable amount of tournaments taking place across the country, we’re not exaggerating.
There were 16 U.S. tournaments listed on the World Hockey Hub alone, and it’s easy to assume there were even more taking place across the country. Those 16 events took place in 12 different cities, with more than 1,500 teams in action.
In a ‘normal’ year, plenty of Canadian teams would take part in American festivities, partaking in some of the very tournaments mentioned below. Canada, however, had its own busy weekend of youth hockey, with tournaments like Silver Sticks; more on that later this week.
Here is a look at some of the highlights from the U.S. tournament weekend:
Six of the best 2007 birth-year teams in the United States converged on Metro Detroit over the weekend for an impressive collection of young hockey talent.
The 14U Detroit Challenger Series brought together a stacked lineup for a six-team showcase, which were (from the latest U.S. Rankings):
No. 1 Shattuck-St. Mary’s
No. 2 Chicago Mission
No. 3 Little Caesars
No. 6 Mid-Fairfield Jr. Rangers
No. 8 Middlesex Islanders
No. 10 Los Angeles Jr. Kings
They all played each other, and nobody left Viking Ice Arena in Hazel Park, Mich., with a perfect record.
The highlight of the weekend? No. 1 vs. No. 2 of course, and Chicago Mission emerged victorious.
The No. 2 ranked team in the country finished with a 3-1-1 record, the highlight being a 4-0 win over No. 1 Shattuck-St. Mary’s on Sunday to conclude the weekend with an exclamation point for the black and green squad.
Mission accomplished what no other team has done this season; defeat Shattuck.
It’s the first loss for a Shattuck 14U team since last September — not September 2021, but September 2020. Last season’s ’06 team that won a national championship finished the ’20-21 campaign on a 38-0-2 run. The ’07s carried the torch into this season with a 30-0-0 run before falling to Mission on Sunday.
Mission is now 31-3-2 on the season after staking their claim for the top spot with the big win over SSM. The only team to beat Mission this weekend was a team that had already topped them once before — Little Caesars. The host team topped Mission 3-2 on Saturday morning; in October, LC won 6-4.
Forwards Ryan Aaronson, Cole McKinney, Nathan Jastrzebski, Ronny Bender and Cameron Aucoin have been bringing the fire for Mission so far this season, while goaltenders Dane Chock and Bjorn Bronas form an intimidating tandem between the pipes.
Shattuck still had quite the impressive weekend, of course – especially when you consider they recorded three straight shutouts. After topping the L.A. Jr. Kings 4-3, the Sabres found their stride in their second Friday game, blanking Little Caesars 3-0.
They didn’t give up a single goal on Saturday, registering a 3-0 win over the Mid-Fairfield Jr. Rangers in the morning and a 5-0 win over the Middlesex Islanders 5-0 in the evening.
Shattuck now holds a 30-1-0 season record. They have already wrapped up a state title and a bid to nationals at the end of the season. Two players who were on last year’s roster — defenseman Henry Brzustewicz and forward Gavin Kor — will try to help the storied Minnesota program repeat after a dominating performance last spring in Dallas.
Six forwards have recorded at least 30 points already, according to Elite Prospects — Masun Fleece, Lucas Sawchyn, Aaron Obobaifo, Kor, William Belle and Owen Chartier — while Brzustewicz is leading the attack from the blue line with 26.
Harrison Boettiger and Liam Joyce split the goaltending duties, and they’re both some of the top goaltenders in the 2007 age group.
The team that traveled the farthest to be there had a pretty good showing, too. The Kings finished 2-2-1, and with strong showings even in defeat, falling to the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the country by one goal. As previously mentioned, the Kings played Shattuck to a 4-3 final in their first contest, and then they dropped one to Mission 2-1 Saturday evening. Alongside those games, however, they tied Mid-Fairfield 3-3, posted a 5-2 win over Middlesex and a 3-2 win over Little Caesars.
Through 29 games, the Kings are led in scoring by Benjamin Kevan, who has a whopping 59 points in the timeframe. Jake Stuart has 36, Christian Plaga has 25 and Stevie Grumley has 24. Seid-Ali Nabiev and Kyle Jones split responsibilities between the pipes.
The Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL) resumed regular hockey activities on Nov. 1, but its teams have been up and running for a regular hockey season since October. That means plenty of hockey to analyze and start figuring out who the teams to beat are in the most storied youth hockey league in North America. Here are our teams to beat in the GTHL this season.
The Toronto Jr. Canadiens are the team beat to beat in the GTHL this season at the U16 age level. As we head into the third weekend of November, they hold a perfect 14-0-0 record, which puts them in the top spot of the Canadian Rankings, and No. 2 in the world. On Oct. 10, the Jr. Canadiens gave the Mississauga Senators their first loss of the season by a 6-4 final; on Nov. 14, they did it again, this time with the scoreboard reading 6-2 at the final buzzer. It’s early in the season, sure, but the Jr. Canadiens are picking up steam and its hard to see anybody derailing them at the moment.
Much like their 2006 counterparts, the Toronto Jr. Canadiens are dominating early in the season at the U15 age group, too. Checking at No. 1 in the Canadian Rankings and No. 3 worldwide, the Jr. Canadiens have a nearly flawless 10-0-1 record on the young season. The Jr. Canadiens kicked off their 2021-22 campaign against the Toronto Marlboros and picked up a 5-3 win. To make sure it wasn’t a bit of opening-game luck, they did the same on Oct. 10, beating the Marlboros 4-2. The Jr. Canadiens’ one tie came at the hands of Ottawa Myers Automotive, a squad that has played to a 13-7-4 record so far this season. We’re not counting out the Marlboros just yet though — an 18-2-1 record makes them a terrifying next-on-schedule for any of the GTHL clubs.
They won the Toronto Red Wings Early Bird tournament to bring in some early-season hardware, and the Vaughan Kings have won a whole lot of other games too. Ranked No. 1 in Canada and ranked No. 2 worldwide, the Kings have a 15-0-0 record alongside an 82-18 goal differential so far this year. Some of their wins have come against top competition, as well, as the Kings have taken down the No. 4-ranked Peterborough Petes, the No. 5-ranked North York Rangers, the No. 6-ranked Toronto Jr. Canadiens, the No. 8-ranked Toronto Marlboros and the No. 10-ranked Elgin Middlesex Chiefs.
The Don Mills Flyers have been climbing up the World Rankings, and for good reason. They check in at No. 2 this week as their record grows to 14-2-0 on the season. In a recent battle of No. 1 vs. No. 2, it was Don Mills prevailing over top-ranked North York Rangers 4-3, and they celebrated by beating the No. 3-ranked Toronto Red Wings 4-0 three days later. Don Mills has No. 4 ranked Ottawa Myers Automotive next on the calendar, and they have also already beaten the No. 6-ranked Toronto Titans. One of their two losses came at the hands of the No. 7-ranked Sun County Panthers, the other a 5-4 OT thriller to the Huron-Perth Lakers.
It was a close call between No. 1 and No. 2, but when No. 1 has already beaten the team below it in the rankings, you have to go with the top dogs. The Toronto Marlboros have a 19-2-1 record so far this season, including a win over the No. 2 Vaughan Kings (a 3-1 final, if you were interested). Both of their losses have come to ranked opponents (No. 4 Toronto Jr. Canadiens in overtime and No. 7 Soo Jr. Greyhounds), and they’re outscoring their competition 96-28 in 2021-22. Other big victories for the Marlboros include two over No. 5 North York and one over No. 10 Oakville, as well as a win to avenge the OT loss to the Jr. Greyhounds.
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It may only be November, but a few Massachusetts teams already know where they’re going to be in April.
Massachusetts Hockey crowned its 15O, 16U and 18U state champions last weekend, helping a few teams punch their tickets to the USA Hockey National Championships a little earlier than their peers in other districts.
The field of teams for USA Hockey Nationals is divided into 12 districts, and by winning a district tournament, teams automatically qualify for the country’s national tournament at the end of the season. With the Massachusetts District playoffs concluding this weekend, these three teams have become the first wave of programs to earn a spot at Nationals still more than four months away.
At the 15-only age group, the Minuteman Flames posted a perfect 3-0-0 record to earn a state championship banner. They scored four goals in every game; a model of consistency en route to a national playoff berth.
In their tournament opener Saturday, the Flames beat Boston Hockey Academy 4-3, thanks to goals from Matt McDonald, Dom Connearny, Drew Carr and Aiden Higson, and a strong outing between the pipes from Mason DeCaire. Later in the day, they beat the Cape Cod Whalers 4-2, on goals from Nate Walsh (two), Carr and Brendan Keaveney. Sam Difore was in between the pipes for the second victory.
In the championship bout, the Flames once again had balanced scoring, as Carr, Walsh, Matthew Welch and Danny Buckley all found the back of the net, giving DeCaire the cushion he needed to guide the Flames to a 4-2 victory.
Walsh and Carr both finished with five points in the three games, while Neponset Valley’s Cam McGettrick led the field in scoring with six on the weekend.
The team to beat ended up being the team to win in 16U, as the Boston Jr. Eagles — ranked No. 9 in the world and No. 5 in the country — claimed the state title.
Balanced scoring started early, as Daniel Markevych, Jonathan Lanza, Nate Porter, Ethane Gardula and Jake McManus all scored in a 5-1 tournament-opening win over Top Gun Saturday morning. Sam Scopa picked up the win between the pipes.
Saturday afternoon, they met the Boston Little Bruins, and the Jr. Eagles had no problems dispatching the Original Six-branded foe. Teddy Stiga scored twice, while Shawn Leary, Jack Sadowski and Gardula also scored. Ben Hack turned aside all but two of the Bruins’ shots sent his way to record the win in goal.
In the final, Jason Zaccari, McManus, Markevych and Stiga scored in a 4-1 win over the North Suburban Wings to secure a spot at Nationals for Boston. Scopa was once again between the pipes for the victory.
Stiga ended up leading the field in scoring, registering seven points in the three games. McManus and Gardula both had five.
The Jr. Eagles are now 17-3-5 on the season.
Just like their 16U counterparts, the 18U Boston Jr. Eagles took care of business this weekend, as well.
On Saturday, they posted a 9-5 win over Boston Hockey Academy to start the tourney with a bang. Nick Bevilacqua and Ryan Kazmouz split the 60 minutes between the pipes.
We’re going to give you a final scoring total for the points leaders after we get through the short game recaps, because in their two games Sunday, the Eagles scored ten more goals. To secure their spot in the finals, they beat Top Gun 5-2, with Bevilacqua taking care of things in goal.
In the championship round, it was a 5-3 win over the South Shore Kings – no stat line on who was in between the pipes for that one.
And now for the final stats totals – Landyn Greatorex led the tournament in scoring with eight points, while Michael Callow had seven and Brendan Gorman had six.
District championships continue over the next several months of the season, and World Hockey Hub will have continued coverage of all U.S. teams to earn a spot in the national tournament. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for the latest news from the world of youth hockey, including national tournament coverage of the U.S., Canada, Russia, Sweden and Finland.
They describe a hockey player’s experience in their program as “epic” on the Mount St. Charles Hockey Academy’s website – and it’s hard to argue that you would experience anything otherwise.
The storied organization continually captures titles and advances players to higher levels of hockey, and their 15U squad seems poised to continue the trend. The 2006 birth-year group has been nearly unstoppable so far this season, and we don’t see any reason for them to slow down.
Ranked No. 1 in the latest edition of the world rankings, Mount has a 22-1-1 record, and they already have some hardware to show off. The M’s won the USHL Fall Classic in their age group, showing off in front of scouts galore in one of the biggest early-season events on the hockey calendar. There, they recorded wins over No. 7 Windy City Storm (7-2); Compuware (6-5 in a shootout); Team Minnesota (6-1); Philadelphia Jr. Flyers (1-0) in the semifinals; and No. 3 Little Caesars (5-2) in the final.
To find their only loss, you have to go all the way back to Sept. 12, where they squared off the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite squad and lost 3-1 on home ice. That loss wasn’t anything to be disappointed about, however, as the Penguins are ranked No. 6 in the country. Mount has already evened things up in the season series with the black and gold, as they knocked Pittsburgh off 4-3 on Oct. 17.
The M’s lone tie has also been to an elite opponent. They played the Bishop Kearney Selects — ranked just behind them at No. 2 in the country — to a 3-3 tie in a neutral-site game on Oct. 16. The first time those two teams met, however, it was all Mount, as they beat BK 7-3 on Sept. 10. Expect more fireworks when these two eventually meet again, as they are the two top teams in the Northeast Pack league.
With this type of early season success, it should come as no surprise that the roster is loaded for Mount St. Charles. In between the pipes, California native and dual citizen Justin Bayers has joined a goaltender depth chart that features incumbents Dillon Hanna and John Parsons. In front of the goaltenders is a loaded blue line group; Will Felicio is one to watch.
The forwards are a dangerous group for opposing netminders, as the M’s have outscored the opposition 121-44 this season. James Hagens, a November birthday New York native, is certainly a name to know. The younger brother of Harvard commit and Mount St. Charles 16U standout Michael Hagens, James is establishing his own hype – started by scoring 19 points in seven games at the World Select Invite in 2019. Last year, he led the M’s in scoring – 57 points in the 27 games reported on Elite Prospects.
The 2021 CCM World Invite Chicago brought 504 teams to the Chicagoland area for a massive early-season tournament this past weekend. Who emerged victorious? Let’s take a closer look at the top Super Tacks divisions for the ’05 through ’10 age groups.
16U Super Tacks
Chicago Mission took advantage of their home ice for the 16U age group, as they cruised to a 6-0-0 record in the Windy City. They dominated preliminary-round play, posting a 6-1 win over the NEW Jr. Gamblers and a 4-0 win over the Pittsburgh Vengeance on Friday before a 5-0 win over Belle Tire on Saturday. From there, it was a 3-1 win over the Minnesota Lakers on Saturday evening, and then a 7-2 win over the Connecticut Jr. Rangers Sunday morning before Mission finished things off with a 4-1 win over Culver Academy in the finals. Hats off to Culver, too, for a nearly flawless weekend, as well.
15U Super Tacks
Team Wisconsin gave up four goals at the CCM World Invite…over six games. With that type of defense and goaltending, it’s easy to see how they emerged victorious at the 15U age group. They registered 5-0 and 2-0 shutout wins over the MDHL (Michigan) and Pittsburgh Vengeance, respectively, on Friday, before a 3-1 win over Florida Alliance Saturday to charge into the elimination rounds. There, it was another shutout win — 3-0 over Team Illinois — in the quarters before a 3-1 win over the Cleveland Barons Sunday morning in the semifinals. In the finals, Chicago Mission managed to score twice, but, it wasn’t enough, as Team Wisconsin headed home champions thanks to a 4-2 victory.
2007 Super Tacks
Compuware had some fun after making the four-hour drive down to Chicago. With a 3-2 win over Team Wisconsin in the finals, Compuware secured a perfect weekend. They started things off with a 4-3 win over the Carolina Jr. Hurricanes and a 3-1 win over CarShield on Friday, before really hitting their stride on Saturday. There, Compuware posted back-to-back five-goal games, beating St. Louis Park 5-2 and then the Indy Jr. Fuel 5-1 in the quarterfinals. On Sunday, they recorded a 4-0 win over the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets before winning it all a few hours later.
2008 Super Tacks
The Los Angeles Jr. Kings entered the CCM World Invite Chicago as the highest-ranked participating team, and they lived up to the billing. The Kings posted a perfect 6-0 record on the weekend, out-scoring the competition 34-13 in the process. After posting a 6-2 win over the Indy Jr. Fuel and a 7-3 win over the Milwaukee Jr. Admirals to start, the Kings followed up with 7-1 and 4-2 wins over Sioux Falls Power and the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets Saturday. On Sunday, an 8-4 win over the Nashville Warriors secured their spot in the finals, where the Kings beat the Chicago Reapers 2-1.
2009 Super Tacks
The home cooking served the Chicago Reapers well this past weekend, as they emerged unscathed from a crowded 2009 class at the World Invite in their backyard. The Reapers pitched three shutouts during their run to the Super Tacks title – including back-to-back Friday 6-0 wins over the California Golden Bears and Nashville Warriors to start things off with a bang. Their last shutout? The finals, of course, as the Reapers blanked Florida Alliance 5-0. The hometown team scored 34 goals in their six games, while only allowing three all weekend – never more than one goal against in each game.
2010 Super Tacks (Crosby)
In a super-stacked Super Tacks at the 2010 age group, tournament organizers split the birth year into Crosby and Ovechkin divisions. In the Crosby division, there were seven ranked teams among the 12, and it was No. 1 holding the rest at bay. Chicago Mission navigated the tournament field with ease, posting a 6-0-0 record en route to a championship. They played the St. Louis AAA Blues in the first game and then again in the last game, and both times, Mission posted 7-1 wins. Along the way, they also took down the No. 2 Pittsburgh Penguins Elite and No. 5 L.A. Jr. Kings, too.
2010 Super Tacks (Ovechkin)
The Madison Capitols took care of business in the other 2010 Super Tacks division, registering their own perfect 6-0-0 record in the Ovi division. No strangers to winning close ones, the Caps never won by more than two goals, but each and every time out, they found a way to win – including a 4-3 final over the Colorado Thunderbirds in the final on Sunday.