Top-level ‘07s, ‘08s and ‘09s competed in the shadow of Superstars during NHL All-Star Weekend
A packed field of youth hockey teams headed to the Sunshine State to take part in the Florida Exposure Cup over the weekend. The Panthers IceDen, Palm Beach IceWorks, Palm Beach Skate Zone and Rink on the Beach were the host sites for all the action. Three teams were named winners of divisions within the 2007, 2008 and 2009 birth years.
Long Island Gulls Stun Little Caesars in OT for ‘07 division win
For the 2007 Elite division, teams were divided into two pools. Each team followed a round-robin format, with the top four teams advancing to the semifinals.
Pool A: Chicago Reapers, No. 1 Little Caesars, St. Louis Blues AAA, Omaha Mastery
Pool B: No. 25 Long Island Gulls, Philadelphia Flyers Elite, No. 9 (U.S.) Mid-Fairfield Jr. Rangers, South Kent Selects
Following round-robin play, the four teams left standing were Little Caesars, the Gulls, Mid-Fairfield and the Reapers. Caesars scored four unanswered goals in a comeback victory against the Reapers to reach the final game. The Gulls’ road to the championship match would prove to be more exciting.
Down 2-1 after the first period, Ethan Wyttenbach scored twice in the second to put his club up 3-2. The Rangers, however, struck again to even things up at 3 and forcing the action to overtime. Following a scoreless extra frame, the Gulls emerged victorious in a shootout, setting up their finale date with Caesars.
Brendan Defeo slid the winning shootout goal five-hole, which was one of the top goals of the week.
Lots of great games and goals from this weekend at the Florida Exposure Cup! Check out LiveBarn‘s Top 5 🏒 pic.twitter.com/nqMRWbVHhP— LiveBarn (@LiveBarn) February 6, 2023
When you go up against the No. 1 team in the World Rankings, the task is already daunting. Add that it is for a tournament championship into the equation, and the task seems monumental. But the Gulls’ roster seemed unfazed as to who their opponent was, playing them hard throughout regulation, with both goals coming in the first period. Shortly after overtime began, Jared Petruso wired home the game-winning goal to cement the Gulls’ 2007 division championship.
Even more impressive was Long Island’s defensive management of many of the top scorers in the division. This included leading point-getter Nicholas Kasiba. He garnered four goals and nine points across six games, but none in the big game. For Long Island, Wyttenbach would end as the team’s points leader with six goals and eight points.
Salandra, Rothstein Lead Mid-Fairfield to ‘08 Division Title
The 2008 Elite Division was split into four pools of participants, with three in each designated group. Teams played in cross-pool round robin games. In the quarterfinals, Pool A played Pool C and Pool B played Pool D. The semifinal round was then re-seeded.
Pool A: Boston Jr. Eagles, Mid-Fairfield Jr. Rangers, Wilkes-Barre Scranton Jr. Knights,
Pool B: No. 10 (U.S.) Seacoast Performance Academy, St. Louis Blues AAA, Yale Junior Bulldogs
Pool C: No. 24 Dallas Stars Elite, Florida Alliance, Okanagan Hockey Group
Pool D: Long Island Gulls, North Jersey Avalanche, Philadelphia Flyers Elite
It was a pristine run for Mid-Fairfield, as they went undefeated en route to being crowned champions of the 2008 Division. After slicing through the competition in pool play, they were tasked with overcoming the Avalanche. A tilt that would prove to be their hardest one of the entire tournament.
After jumping out to a 2-0 lead thanks to Mason St. Louis and Joey Salandra, Mid-Fairfield would eventually end the first period up 4-2. North Jersey responded with three unanswered goals to take a 5-4 lead. With second left in the game, Jason Rothstein tied the game up, forcing overtime. From there, Maddox Boyle would net the game-winning goal on the power play, securing the Ranger’s undefeated run among ‘08 teams.
Rothstein led all skaters in total points with 19 (11G, 8A) across six games, with Salandra 18 just behind. Salandra collected four points (1G, 3A) alone in the title game.
Mason St. Louis, son of NHL Hall of Famer and current head coach of the Montreal Canadiens Martin St. Louis, provided fantastic secondary scoring with tallies like the one above. That goal was one of his five on the weekend, and nine total points.
Jr. Eagles take Pool B, secure championship among ‘09 Elite
The 2009 Elite Division was also split into four pools of participants, with four in each designated group. Teams played in three round-robin games within their pool. In the quarterfinals, Pool A played Pool B and Pool C played Pool D.
Pool A: Boston Jr. Terriers, Florida Alliance, Milwaukee Admirals, No. 12 Pittsburgh Penguins Elite
Pool B: No. 24 Boston Jr. Eagles, No. 9 (U.S.) Little Caesars, New Jersey Rockets (Elite), PAL Jr. Islanders
Pool C: No. 9 (U.S.) Dallas Stars Elite, No. 22 Mid-Fairfield Jr. Rangers, Mississauga Reps, Wilkes-Barre Scranton Jr. Knights
Pool D: Buffalo Jr. Sabres, No. 18 New Jersey Rockets (Academy), No. 7 St. Louis Blues AAA, Top Gun Hockey
The Eagles got their Exposure Cup schedule off to a shaky start with a 6-2 loss to Caesars. However, they responded with three consecutive wins to finish pool play, their first playoff date was set against the Alliance. Four different goal scorers and a multi-assist game from Jacoby Palmer would ensure the Jr. Eagles’ appearance in the championship game.
A possible rematch between Caesars and the Eagles was possible, but all thoughts of that were halted when Pens Elite brushed off Caesars 7-1. That set up a title game between two world-ranked foes.
Good fortunes continued for Pittsburgh when it took a 1-0 lead into intermission. The Jr. Eagles came out for the second a different team, blazing four unanswered goals in the second to take the ‘09 Elite Division crown. JR Gualberto had a hand in three of the four goals in the period, collecting one assist and scoring twice.
Trevor Daley, Jr. of the Alliance led all skaters in the division with 12 points (6G, 6A). Carter Meyer led the Jr. Eagles with 11 (6G, 5A).