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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tim Jardine Tournament Re-cap

Courtesy - Mark Booth - Delta Optimist

Seafair 5 - South Delta 4
From start to finish nothing came easy for the Seafair Islanders yet they still found a way to repeat as champions at the 18th annual Tim Jardine Showcase Tournament.

The Islanders captured the eight team Bantam AAA event with a hardfought and entertaining 5-4 victory over the host South Delta Storm on Sunday at the Ladner Leisure Centre.

The same two teams had open the tournament four days earlier with the Richmond squad needing a late power play goal to prevail 3-2 in round-robin play. It proved to be an identical script in the final as another man advantage goal in the final four min-utes was enough to hold off a determined Storm team for good. Seafair had never trailed in the final, opening up an early 2-0 lead, only to see South Delta battle back to draw even on three different occasions.

As the only participating team slated to play in Pacific Coast Amateur Hockey Association's top tier for regular season play, the Islanders were considered the pre-tourney favourites. However, a challenging month of tiering games had taken its toll with four regulars unavailable for the weekend and another injury leaving the team with just eight forwards for the playoff round.

Seafair also had its hands full in its final two preliminary games against Surrey (4-4) and Campbell River (8-5), before holding off Vancouver 3-1 in the quarter-finals. Even an 8-3 semi-final victory over Campbell River saw the Vancouver Island squad enjoy a 3-0 lead before the Islanders got going.

The championship game featured two highprofile coaches going headto-head. Seafair's Russ Weber guided Team B.C. to gold at last February's Canada Winter Games, a feat that helped him earn B.C. Amateur Hockey's coach-of-the-year award.

The Storm are led behind the bench by former South Delta star Shane Kuss who has made coaching stops with the Delta Ice Hawks and the B.C. Hockey League's Surrey Eagles.

"Right from the get go it was a real challenge for us," said Weber. "I'm extremely proud to go into this with just nine forwards and the tenacity the boys showed, dealing with back-to-back games.

"To be honest we tried to rest on one goal leads rather than go full throttle with our forcecheck, like we usually do, just to conserve energy."

Seafair needed players to step up and its best did just that. Western Hockey League Bantam Draft prospect Glenn Gawdin earned tournament MVP honours with 12 goals in six games, including back-to-back hat tricks.

Others picking up the slack included Alex McLeod, one of six 1998 born players on the team, who had three goals in the comeback semi-final win over Campbell River. Second-year Brett Gelz also enjoyed a strong tournament.

The result was somewhat bittersweet for a Storm team that came within a couple of bounces of being the first South Delta squad to prevail since 2006 when current Vancouver Giants star Brendan Gallagher led the hosts to victory.

The performance also proved the locals are more than capable of competing and even beating higher tiered opponents despite being designated for tier three play in the regular season. Making the runner-up finish even more impressive was the Storm also dealing with a short bench due to injuries to key second-year forwards Nathan Adamson and Trevor MacDonald.

"A lot of people didn't give us much hope going into the tournament but the boys played well within our system," said Kuss. "They should be happy and proud of the way they performed and also the character they showed to keep battling back the way they did."

The Storm appealed their tier three assignment to the PCAHA but to no avail and now must dominant their opponents to prove they deserve to be promoted to tier two in the new year.

"We feel we are good enough to compete with four or five of the bottom teams in tier one," Kuss added. "The disappointing thing is now we are going to have to focus on killing teams (to get promoted) which means giving more ice time to your top guys and not enough opportunity to develop all your players."

Matthew Brunton enjoyed an outstanding playoff run in the Storm net, especially in a 4-2 semi-final win over Surrey. He also faced 42 shots in the final. His play earned him the tournament's top goaltender award.
© Copyright (c) Delta Optimist

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That comment by Kuss about giving his top 4 or 5 more ice to kill teams to move up and not develop the bottom is a sad comment. maybe it's out if context but if your in tier 3 and are worried about running up scores to get to a tier that the team will not be competitive in then maybe as a coach you should probably go back to junior and coach. Maybe your not capable of developing players.