Only The Elites

Mar 19, 2021 | Craig Peterson

Cole McKinney skating across the ice wearing a Chicago Mission jersey.

Columbus Showcase goes down as the best event of the season

Some of the best ‘07 teams in the United States clashed last weekend in Columbus, Ohio, for a three-day showcase. Each team played five games, in what is certainly the single-most elite event of the season in the States, and may be one for the record books.

Very rarely will you see events with this many of the top teams all in one location. Plenty of tournaments will draw three or four, maybe a half-dozen from the Top 10 if the region surrounding the event is loaded at a certain age level. But for Exposure Hockey Group’s Columbus Invite to draw 10 of the top 15 teams from the 2007-birth year from seven different states across the country is truly a spectacle to behold. 

No. 1-ranked HoneyBaked
No. 3 Chicago Mission
No. 4 Pittsburgh Penguins Elite
No. 5 Mid-Fairfield Jr. Rangers
No. 6 Little Caesars
No. 8 LA Jr. Kings
No. 11 Long Island Gulls
No. 12 Rochester Jr. Americans
No. 14 New Jersey Rockets
No. 15 St. Louis AAA Blues…

It would have been quicker to list off the top teams that weren’t in attendance.

Fourteen of the 26 games were decided by two goals or less, with HoneyBaked defeating Chicago Mission 3-1 in the de facto championship on Sunday. Chase Reid’s second-period goal proved to be the game-winner, and Joe Slavick made 23 saves, finishing the weekend with a 3-1 record and 0.91 save percentage for top-ranked HB. 

The showcase saw plenty of standouts across all 10 participating teams. We’ve narrowed it down to seven ‘07s that stood out to WHH, and sure to see more of them next season when the ‘07 Hub is launched this summer.

John Mooney
Forward, Pittsburgh Penguins Elite 

The most entertaining player of the weekend. Mooney is an elite skater, and while he may be a bit undersized, he’s smart and crafty with the puck. He quarterbacked the power play and was in total control during the man advantage.

Jack Fitchthorn
Goalie, Mid-Fairfield Jr. Rangers

Very controlled and fluid, moving extremely well laterally. Stopped 30-of-32 shots against No.1 HoneyBaked. A 3-1-0 record on the weekend but that doesn’t do Fitchtorn’s performance justice, as he gave the Rangers a shot in every game against the stiffest competition in America.

Cole McKinney
Forward, Chicago Mission

He’s a big, powerful skater with elite hockey senses. McKinney does a fantastic job of distributing both off the rush and in-zone offensively. Not surprising, he led the tournament in scoring with three goals and 12 points thanks to his spectacular vision and feel for the game.

Teddy Mutryn
Forward, Boston Advantage 2006

Speaking of leading scorers, 2007-born Mutryn led the ‘06 division while playing up an age group, with four goals and nine points on the weekend. He’s very cerebral, thinking the game and seeing it unfold on the ice, which is fitting for the son of former Boston College quarterback Scott Mutryn. Teddy’s a big, strong kid with a stellar shot.

Isaac Nelson
Defense, HoneyBaked   

If you ever wondered what a Division-I defenseman looks like at 13-years-old, look no further. HB is loaded with top-end talent and may actually have multiple future college prospects, including a fistful of blue liners. Nelson was our personal favorite because of his skating and puck-moving ability. Led the team in points with six in six games.

Matthew Grimes
Defense, Long Island Gulls

All over the ice from the back end but in a very methodical way. Grimes can go north with the best of them and join the offensive rush, but also defend with that same level of enthusiasm the other direction. An active stick that negates as many opposing chances as he creates for his own team.

Nic Whitehead
Forward, Mid-Fairfield Jr. Rangers

A smooth skater with awesome vision. Love the way he keeps his head on a swivel. He produced four points in six games and proved to be very entertaining to watch because of his great hands and elite speed.

Who did we miss? Text WHH at 603-541-7772 for the latest news, rankings, events and updates from the world of youth hockey!

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