Midway through the tournament has seen plenty of standout performances and exciting action
The 2012 birth year had some big shoes to fill in the West Edmonton Mall this week after the warm-up act of 2011s dazzled in the Brick Invitational just days earlier.
Last week’s event featured plenty of drama with 13 one-goal games, including an overtime thriller in the championship between the Connecticut Jr. Rangers and Toronto Bulldogs. How could the regularly-scheduled ‘12s raise the bar?
The Toronto Bulldogs and Toronto Pro Hockey wasted no time, clashing in Game 1 on Monday. They set the tone for what has proved to be one of the most competitive and tightly contested Brick tournaments in recent memory. Nate Deagazio scored a shorthanded goal with four minutes remaining in the second period for the Bulldogs; the first of 208 goals in the tournament this week.
With 14 teams divided into two divisions, the Connecticut Jr. Rangers and Team Minnesota currently sit atop their respective round-robin groupings. In the Styles Division, CJR stands as the only undefeated team in the field with a 5-0-0 record and 14 of a possible 15 points in the standings. Jack Brayman scored the game-winning goal in an overtime victory against the Saskatchewan Junior Pats. The next day, Brayman did it again, scoring with 8:34 left in the third period to give the Rangers a come-from-behind win over the Montreal Canadiens. Brayman leads the Jr. Rangers in scoring with five goals and 10 points, and is one of two players to find the back of the net in every game they’ve played in.
The other player on a goal-scoring streak? Canadiens’ Flavio DiPlacido. He leads all skaters with seven goals through five games. That includes a hat trick against Team Pennsylvania on Monday that has put an exclamation point on his performance this week.
A trio of Minnesotans have cluttered the scoring leaderboard, as Jack Allgood, Austin Jarvi and Jack Keiser all sit among the top seven in points. At least one of those three skaters has factored in on 23 of Team Minnesota’s 29 goals in the tournament. That has led Minnesota to a 4-1-0 record, putting them atop the Wigston Division. Allgood leads the tournament in scoring with 14 points; he recorded a hat trick against Pro Hockey on Wednesday and followed it up with a six-point performance on Thursday against CCM Chicago. That game is the highest-scoring contest of the tournament thus far, with Team Minnesota edging out CCM Chicago 8-7, and the trio of forwards combining for an astounding 16 points.
Dylan Lavallee has been in net for all three of Team Brick Alberta’s victories. He has turned away 61-of-66 shots on goal through four games. Minnesota’s Graham Olson is the only goaltender with multiple shutouts to his name. He has logged more minutes than any other player in the field, and blanked both the Manitoba Junior Ice and Toronto Bulldogs in consecutive starts.
Montreal’s Kahne Laplume has allowed just one goal against, stopping 31-of-32 shots in two games and holds onto the highest save percentage in the tournament. He’s followed closely by Jackson Zinner with a .938 save percentage for BC Junior Canucks.
Six teams will advance from round-robin action to the elimination rounds. Through the first 34 games, the Jr. Rangers have clinched the No. 1 seed in the Style Division. The Canadiens and Junior Canucks are set to play Friday morning with the winner earning the second playoff bid and the loser potentially eliminated. Brick Alberta could squeeze their way into the playoff picture as well with a win in regulation or overtime.
Team Minnesota has also secured one of the three spots up for grabs in the Wigston Division. A win on Friday would clinch the No. 1 seed. The Toronto Bulldogs appear to have clinched a playoff spot as well, with the Manitoba Junior Ice and Toronto Pro Hockey still in the hunt for the final spot.
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