This coming weekend will be yet another busy weekend across western Canada as far as tournament action goes. Each province will feature a fairly major tournament with the Rick Lapointe Tournament in Victoria, Lethbridge Golden Hawks Tournament, Prince Albert AA Tournament and the 2nd of three Hockey Manitoba Bantam Showcases.
The Rick Lapointe Tournament in Victoria will feature eight teams, divided in to two divisions. The teams are mostly Tier 2 caliber squads with the exception of OHA who really should easily win this tournament. Action will begin Thursday morning with Cloverdale taking on Cowichan and will wrap up with the final on Sunday at 2:45.
Cloverdale (1-5-1 in Flight 2 of PCAHA)
Cowichan Valley (3-2-0 in Flight 1 of VIAHA)
Hollyburn (6-0-0 in Flight 3 of PCAHA)
Seafair (4-1-0 in Flight 2 of PCAHA)
Surrey (1-4-1 in Flight 1 of PCAHA)
Victoria (1-2-1 in Flight 1 of VIAHA)
Defenceman to watch
Although not a lot of high end talent in this tournament, there are a few players outside of the OHA players to keep tabs on. D- Josh Anderson from Cowichan Valley and D - Carter Stephenson of Hollyburn are a pair of highly touted defenders who should have great tournaments. Darren Rizzolo and Andy Stevens are a pair of very good defenseman to watch from OHA. Rizzolo is a very good puck mover and Stevens is a big, rough stay at home type.
Forwards to watch
Once again, OHA is very strong with first round candidate Beck Malenstyn leading the way along with Davis Koch and Ryan Bowen. Carter Kyle is opening up scouts eyes with his gritty, in-your-face style of play. Surrey's big power forward Nicholas Bizzutto can be difficult to play against and Seafair's Alex Mcleod is the go-to guy from that squad. Both Surrey and Seafair also have several top 99 born talent to rely upon which should lead them to contend for a spot in the final against OHA. On Surrey, Parm Dhaliwahl and Nick Wilson have shown promise so far this year while on Seafair, Akash Baines, Jordan Sandhu and Kyle Ahlfield have been good. Cowichan Valley's Ben Berard is showing promise as is someone to keep tabs on as has Kyle Topping from Cowichan. Reid Irwin from Victoria and Kyle Kaufmann are others to watch in the '99 age group.
Goalies to watch
Brody Wilms from OHA has shown to be one of the top goalies this year in the 98 age group in western Canada. Nic Tallarico can steal games for Surrey at times but is small at just 5'7. Ben Maquignaz of Hollyburn has been real good so far and Ty Rennie from Cowichan Valley is another goalie who can be very good as well.
HOCKEY MANITOBA BANTAM SHOWCASE #2
The second of two Hockey Manitoba Bantam Showcases will take place in Steinbach, MB beginning this coming Friday at 2pm CDT. The showcase will feature 28 more games, some of which counting towards the Winnipeg AAA league standings. The Winnipeg Sharks and the Winnipeg Warriors won't be participating in this showcase. The showcase will feature 14 teams from Manitoba with one team from NW Ontario.
Prince Albert Bantam "AA" Tournament
The annual Prince Albert "AA" Tournament will begin this weekend. This years tournament will feature 16 teams from the province which means 7 teams from the province will not attend. Those teams are: Saskatoon Generals, Saskatoon Outlaws, Saskatoon Bandits, West Central, Regina Monarchs, Regina Silver Foxes and Regina Pat Blues. So as a result, the top Saskatoon (GSHL) team - Saskatoon Bandits, all three very good Regina based teams and the top teams from the SBAAHL - West Central all won't attend.
The tournament will have 4 pools of 4 teams each with action beginning Thursday at 12:45 at the AHC with Humboldt vs. Saskatoon Maniacs. Here below is a short preview on the tournament. We will have full coverage of this tournament throughout the weekend.
Northeast Wolf Pack (9-2-0 59GF - 26GA)
The Wolfpack have won three in a row and are once again showing that they are one of the top teams in the SBAAHL. The Wolf pack use a balanced attack and roll four lines and 6 defenceman as good as anyone in Saskathewan bantam hockey. Hunter Arps enters the tournament without a league loss so far this year with a 6-0-0 record and a 2.17 GAA. Tyler Borstmayer leads the team in scoring with 7-8-15 in 11 games. D - Tristan Charles has been a rock for the Wolf Pack both defensively and chipping in offensively. The 6'2 160lb Charles has 10 points so far this season. Watch for a pair of talented '99 born players to make an impact with gritty Kris Bzdel and talented Connor Tuffs. The Wolfpack have to be considered a favourite to win the tournament and should win their pool.
Saskatoon Frostbite(2-6-1 28GF - 32GA)
The Frostbite have really struggled to score so far this season, averaging just over 3 gpg. They are led by two of the better forwards from the GSHL in Cole Young, Jordan Hudson and Mitchell Zambon and do have a fairly veteran offensive attack as far as bantam hockey goes. Derrick Hucal in goal has been very strong, sporting a 2.00 GAA so far this year. The defence at times can get themselves hemmed in to the zone for long periods of time and lack of true puck moving defenseman. The Frostbite do have a chance however to move on as the 2nd seed from this pool and in to the A playoff round.
Estevan Bruins (4-8-1 42GF - 58GA)
The Estevan Bruins have proven they can definitely score this year but the problem has been keeping the puck out of the net at times. The Bruins rely on their top two lines to carry the offensive load and are led by Mitchell Morrison, Matthew Bill, Kolten Ganson and Colton Winton who all have a ppg or better. Jordan Williams has been strong from the back-end and '99 born D - Brayden Pachel has shown promise as being a potentially high pick in the '14 bantam draft. Carter Phair in goal has shown the ability to steal games when called upon.
Yorkton Terriers (3-6-3 43GF - 54GA)
The Terriers are one of the most penalized teams in the league once again this season and will have to rely on that grit to carry them this tournament. Yorkton is loaded with several talented players from its power-house peewee team from last season. Amongst the '99 born players who are ones to watch are; the Welke twins, Logan Foster, D- Jake Kustra and Tyler Stratechuk. Offensively the team is led by Brennan Watson and Brayden Miller who are averaging a ppg or better. Braidon Berezowski has been fairly decent for Yorkton this season.
Balgonie Prairie Storm (6-6-0 58GF - 45GA)
The Prairie Storm are led by one of the top forwards for the bantam draft from Saskatchewan with Jared Legien. Legien won MVP honours at the Regina AA Tournament in November and if he is going, he can carry the Prairie Storm a long ways. Along with Legien, Jared Dmytriw and Damien Bentz all have over 20 points in 12 games this year. Watch for '99 born F - Eamon Milligan to contribute as well. Milligan had 66 goals in his peewee league last year and has shown signs of that ability in the early going this year. The Prairie Storm are a much different team this year as they lack the star-studded defence core they had last year. It doesn't help either that the top two defenders coming in to this season have left for Notre Dame with Nolan Reid and Jeff Faith attending school in Wilcox. In goal, Talen King has shown pretty well this year and should play most of the Prairie Storm big games. They are the favourite from this group and one of the favourites overall to win the tournament.
Saskatoon Maniacs (3-4-3 31GF - 36GA)
The Maniacs have been a bit up and down this season but do possess some good talent. One of the leading scorers in the GSHL is 5'2 110lb pint-sized forward Brayden Camrud, who is averaging about 2 points per game in the GSHL. The Maniacs are loaded with some of the GSHL's top '99 born players in F - Dino Antoniadis, D - Ty Prefontaine and G - Tye Morin.
Humboldt Broncos (1-10-0 30GF - 87GA)
The Broncos struggles this year haven't been helped by the injuries they have endured to some of their top players. Shane Sherban, who was expected to lead the team to a much better season has played just 6 games and has 5-1-6 and should help in this tournament. Top defenseman and Regina AA Tournament All-Star Matthew Parson is just returning from injury and could be one of the top dman in the province and Drayden Ukrainetz has been hurt and was averaging over a ppg before his injury at the end of October. Watch for '99 born F - Erik Gardiner, the brother of Prince Albert Raider 1st rounder - Reid Gardiner to make an big impact. Many feel he has been the top '99 born player in the province and is averaging better than a ppg this year. Braxton Stenson should play the important games in goal and despite facing lots of rubber and having a 6.59 gaa, has been pretty good.
Moose Jaw Warriors (2-7-1 31GF - 53GA)
The Warriors are allowing over 5 gpg and will need to tighten things up a bit to have any chance of competing to the end in the tournament. The defense is led by Wyatt Riendieu and he has definitely been one of the bright spots for the 2-7-1 Warriors this season. Another has to be the play of '99 born F - Chantz Petruic and his team leading 11-6-17 in 10 games. Kyle Arndt will be expected to carry lots of the offensive load as well if he can return from injury. Arndt has just 2 goals in 8 games but has good offensive ability.
Melville Millionaires (5-3-1 54GF - 35GA)
The Millionaires have been pretty good this year led by a couple of returning players who took a secondary role last year with the team. Marial Beny has shown a noticable improvement in his skating and currently leads the team with 7-13-20. Paul Jewhurts has shown an ability to score with a team leading 11 goals and Caleb Riess has been very hot lately for Melville as well. However, the kingpin of the team has to be offensive defenseman Dawson Davidson. Davidson has missed a few games this year but has still managed 6-9-15 in 7 games and should show to be one of the best, if not, the best defenseman in the tournament. Watch for '99 born D - Austin Johnston to be very strong and open up some eyes for the '14 draft. The Millionaires are in a tough group but should be able to move to the A playoff side.
Saskatoon Stallions (6-5-0 32GF - 36GA)
The Stallions got off to a bit of a slow start in the GSHL this season but have since won 6 of their past 8 games. Offensively, the top has been led by '99 born forward Jake Leschyshyn who is one of the leaders in goals in the GSHL despite being a first year player. The Stallions will have to rely on a strong team game and structure to have a chance in such a tough pool. Dawson Barilla, Kevin King and Jordan Unger are others to watch from the Stallions. Isaac Labelle has the ability to steal some games in goal for the Stallions.
Prince Albert VH Raiders (10-4-0 92GF - 55GA)
Prince Albert got off to a terrific 9-1-0 start to the season but have since lost 3 of 4 games. Despite cooling off a bit the Raiders till have the ability to roll three lines at you and have one of the top players in Saskatchewan in the 98 age group with Drew Warkentine. Drew has the ability to take over a game with his size and skill and currently leads the SBAAHL in scoring with 23 goals and 9 assists in 13 games. Tanner Fiddler, who plays with Drew, has 18 goals and Braden Isbister along with Reid Manson add grit to the forward group and can be hard to play against. In goal, Jordan Rock has been solid but defence and goaltending at times have been the Raiders achilles heal. They are considered one of the top teams in the tournament though and should move on to the A playoff pool.
Weyburn Wings (2-6-2 31GF - 47GA)
The Wings have struggled to score goals this season and will need to play a tight checking style and capitalize on their chances if they are to have any chance in such a tough pool. The Wings have been led this year by '99 born F - Tristyn DeRoose who leads the team in scoring with 13 points in 10 games. Fellow '99 born F - Kane Altwasser was the only other player averaging over a ppg but has been out with injury since early November. Austin Neiszner provides some grit to the lineup, so watch for him to stir things up. In goal, Dalton Dosch has shown to be one of the better goalies so far in the SBAAHL, despite being a late '99 birthdate. This may not be the year for Weyburn with so many '99 born players but there are certainly a team to watch for next years draft.
Sask Valley Vipers (5-6-3 54GF - 51GA)
It has been a bit of an up and down season so far for Sask Valley. Only captain, Liam Maley is averaging better than a ppg with 8-9-17 in 13 games. However, Scotty Stewart, Carson Albrecht and Bradley Macpherson are all close with 13 points in 14 games. Daven Smith has been pretty strong on the back-end and has shown the will to compete each game. Smith is only 5'6 but plays much bigger than that. The Vipers roll their lines for the most part and should compete well in the tournament. Their pool is very wide open, so that should give them a chance to move on.
Notre Dame Hounds (2-11-4 45GF - 97GA)
The "AA" Hounds have had a very tough year with just 2 wins in 17 games. They do have a few players to watch however. Trygve Many Guns has been on a bit of a hot streak lately with a 4 game point streak to which he has 5 points in that span. Taylor Kreutzer, Conor John MacLean and Jared Power all have over a ppg with Power a team leading 8 goals in 16 games. Eric Soar has been the go-to player defensively.
Swift Current Kabos Raiders (5-4-2 48GF - 48GA)
The Kabos Raiders are coming off a very good home tournament, falling just short in the semi-finals and eventually winning the bronze medal. The offensive attack is definitely the bread and butter of the Raiders team with Kole Lind and his 9 points in 4 games, since returning from injury leading the way. Tanner Nagel has been dangerous with 8-9-17 in 11 games and is on a line with Lind. Tristan Carey, Cody Spagrud, Carter Tangen and Dylan Rossiter are all near a ppg. If the Raiders are to go far in the tournament, they will need strong goaltending from Sundquist and Granrude to overcome an over-matched defensive unit at times.
Battleford Barons (5-5-0 52GF - 49GA)
The Barons haven't had trouble scoring this year but have had trouble keeping the puck out of the net. Offensively, captain Brandon Lesko has been one of the top players in the SBAAHL each night and has 11-13-24 in just 10 games. Owen Lamb, Josh Sielsky and Kyler Nachtagaele have been very good at times as well. Dax Desmarais has a 2.75 GAA while Matthew Flath has a surprising 6.33. That situation will be something to watch this tournament.
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