Top American Teams Collide In Detroit

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. 

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