EDMONTON, AB - After months of planning, tryouts, practices, pre Brick tournaments, scrimmages and traveling 2076 miles the time has finally come to hit the ice at the West Edmonton Mall (WEM) in round robin play. The B’s will celebrate Independence Day looking to knock off the tournament favorite Toronto Bulldogs in Wild Rose Country.
The team arrived on Saturday, July 2nd and hit the WEM the following morning for a scrimmage with the Winnipeg Jr. Jets. The team continued its strong play of late with a solid 3-0 shutout. The B’s got goals from Matt Boldy, Conor Lovett and Sam Colangelo to help pace the offense. In net, both Jack Williams and Derek Mullahy split duties and both were sharp when called upon (including a penalty shot save by Williams when the game was still 1-0).
The win, although convincing, was not the B’s at their best. The team came out uninspired in the opening period and gave a “B” level effort. Chalk it up to travel fatigue or getting overwhelmed with the atmosphere at the Mall, the B’s will be in big trouble if they play that way in any of the round robin games. “This was an important skate for us,” coach Chris Masters commented. “It was good to get this out of the way and we all now know what to expect when the games count. This is such a unique ice sheet with shadows to contend with, fans so close to the ice they can actually reach down over the glass and touch the players as well as the overall “buzz” that is generated during a game that players need to be sharp mentally and stay focused on the ice.”
The B’s, in a division with the aforementioned Bulldogs, Vancouver Jr. Canucks, California 01′s, Regina Jr. Pats, Montreal Ice Storm and Team Brick Alberta, have a Murderer’s Row of teams to go through to just advance to the semi finals on Saturday. Those who have seen most of the teams in the tournament play have handicapped that 6 of the top 7 teams in the entire tournament are all in this same division.
It is also easy to see why the Brick is so highly regarded. There is no stone left unturned by the tournament staff and the production of games is at an NHL level. From the introduction of the teams to warm up music to the playing of the anthems to the post game drinks and food in the locker rooms to the media credentialing to the play by play call of every game to the team photographers to the gift bag that each player receives this blows away any tournament a player has been to in the past.
Posted: Tuesday, July 5 (9:00 PM)
On Monday night the B’s opened the tournament and it was a disastrous night. After playing their worst game in 6 weeks they got worse news that star forward Patrick Moynihan broke his hand and would be lost for the rest of the tournament. Moynihan, the team’s second leading scorer and integral part of the teams character, make up and success is a huge loss for the team.
“Pat is a special player and I feel horrible for him,” coach Masters commented. “Not only is he a huge part of our team and our success but he is also the consummate team player and it will take a lot to try and replace what he brought to this team. Not that anyone would ever question his toughness, but that is no longer a debatable topic…it is rare to see a player of any age play through a broken hand, but to see a 10 year old do it is something else. He broke the hand in his second shift of the game and barely missed a shift the rest of the way and scored the teams only goal. Big time toughness.”
On Tuesday afternoon the B’s took the ice to play the Saskatchewan Jr. Pats. This time, the Bruins team came out and dominated play virtually from start to finish. The team got down 1-0 but battled back to score three straight goals to take a 3-1 lead late in the game. Conor Lovett scored all three goals for the B’s and was named the game’s #1 star. On his first of the game Zach Jones and Jacob Banks sent Lovett in alone and he finished off the play to tie the game. Later in the second Liam Connors made a great outlet pass from the right wing to send Lovett down the right wing lane where he pulled away from a Pat’s defender for his second goal of the game. Into the third the lead was extended to 3-1 when Sean Farrell and Jack Venturelli set up Lovett’s third tally of the game.
Also sharp in net was Derek Mullahy who made 21 saves in the game. Into the third the B’s looked to be on thier way to victory but a couple of mistakes, one with the goalie pulled for an extra attacker, cost them picking up the full two points in the game. “The kids did a great job and hard the entire game. The margin for error is so thin at the Brick that we learned the hard way that, despite controlling play for 90% of the game, that you can’t let up for a second and taking even part of a shift off is lethal,” coach Masters continued.
“I was thrilled at the effort and execution and if we put forth this kind of effort, I like our chances against any of the teams we play.”
On Wednesday it is a rematch of the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals as the B’s take on the Vancouver Jr. Canucks.
Posted: Friday, July 5 (11:00 AM)
EDMONTON, AB-The B’s took to the ice on Wednesday with the Vancouver Jr. Canucks in the Brick version of the Stanley Cup finals and it mirrored the domination the B’s had over the senior Canucks in Game 7 but the Jr. Canucks had thier goalie show up and steal a tie for the Western Canadian boys.
The B’s came out flying for the second game in a row but found themselves down 1-0 after
the first even though a realistic score could have been a 5-1 B’s lead based on them bombarding the ‘Nucks goalie with 16 shots. In the second Matt Boldy forced a neutral zone turnover and was off to the races on a breakaway and, after Bilous (Vancouver goalie) made the initial save, Boldy had stopped at the net and was in position to jam home his own rebound to tie the game.
In the third the black and gold continued to blast Bilous with shots but could not solve him and it looked like he would steal a game on his own as Vancouver scored with 5 minutes to go to take a 2-1 lead.
The B’s continued to work, get to the net and pepper Bilous with shots, but it took pulling goalie Derek Mullahy and potting a 6-5 man advantage goal with only 12 seconds to go. On the play Thor Griffith moved the puck through the neutral zone to the right side where Jacob Banks, fresh on the ice, moved it up the right wing to Conor Lovett. Lovett, who has been one of the best players at the entire tournament, scooted into the zone and threw a shot to the net. He, along with Banks and Griffith, crashed the net and the puck found its way past the goal line to tie the game.
Final shots on goal in the game read: Junior Bruins 42 Vancouver Jr. Canucks 18
“The kids have done a great job, given effort every shift the last two game and they really deserve more than just the two ties,” coach Masters commented, “but, the reality is we are 0-1-2 and we need to find a way to do just a little bit more. While we would have liked to pick up those wins I have no complaints about how hard the team is working and how well they are playing. If they continue with this level of play, we are going to be a tough team to beat.”
EDMONTON, AB-Thursday morning the B’s woke up with their playoff hopes alive and a game with the highly skilled California 01′s at 10:50 AM. The team, sluggish for the first 8-10 minutes and not as sharp as they had been in their prior two games, played well enough to only be down 1-0 after the first.
The team picked up their play and tied the game on a beautiful power play goal just 1:53 into the middle stanza. Sam Colangelo moved the puck to Conor Lovett on the left wing wall and then he attacked the middle of the ice just above the top of the face-of circle. Matt Boldy found some open ice, opened up for a one time. Lovett, who drew two defenders to him, slid the puck into the open ice with a perfect pass and Boldy one timed it home to tie the game.
The teams would continue to trade goals as Cali went up 2-1 four minutes later. Lovett then scored the first of his next three goals to tie the game at two’s half way through the game. The see saw scoring continued as California would head into the dressing room up 3-2 when they scored a PP goal of their own.
The B’s, as they have done the last two game, continued to fight and claw their way back when Lovett scored again on a play set up by Jacob Banks and Colangelo at the 6:09 mark of the third. Just 35 seconds later it was hat trick time for Lovett who put the B’s ahead for good.
Putting a bow on the game was not without drama as the B’s had to kill off a full minute of 5-6 play as the Cali 01′s pulled their goalie to try and tie the game. The quintet of lovett, Boldy, Colangelo, Henry Thrun and Chopper Lockhart along with two key saves by goalie Jack Williams held them at bay and kept the B’s playoff hopes alive.
On Friday the B’s have another must win game with the Montreal Ice Storm at 3:50 PM.
Posted: Friday, July 5 (9:30 PM)
EDMONTON, AB-Heading into their final two round robin games the Junior Bruins ‘Brick’ team still had playoff hopes alive. It was a long shot and it would take a herculean effort to advance, but they were told by the tournament staff that if they won their last two games and won those by a margin of 9 goals, they move on.
They had a Friday matinee with the Montreal Ice Storm and got off to a flying start getting goals from Conor Lovett (on a beautiful set from Von Mabbs and Peirce Kenny) and Matt Boldy in the first 3:34 of the game. They then went “flat” and the Storm got back into the game cutting the lead in half after the first. The Storm then tied the game scoring the lone goal of the second period.
The B’s, with their backs firmyl agaisnt the wall, had to come out with their best period of the year. As has been the case all season for the team, they answered the bell and scored six straight goals after the Storm took a 3-2 lead en route to an 8-3 win and a wildly entertaining third period.
Tying the game was Sam Colangelo put back a rebound off an in zone face off play. Less than a minute later it was Zach Jones who dug the puck free from a scrum behind the net and gave it the old wrap around beating the Storm goalie five hole to take a 4-3 lead. The frenetic scoring pace slowed for the next six minutes till Conor Lovett scored his tournament leading 9th goal of the week (Lovett is tied with Chicago’s Cole Caulfield for the goals scored lead but Lovett has played one fewer round robin game). A minute later it was Shane Farrell’s turn as he finished off a Lovett and Liam Connors play to make it 6-3.
The B’s, going on the info provided them by the tournament that they need to win, and win big, then gambled pulling the goalie with two minutes to go to try and extend the lead. The gamble paid off when Thor Griffith, with a Lovett assist, ripped a shot top shelf to make it 7-3. The Storm then took two penalties and the B’s pulled goalie Derek Mullahy, who continued to play well making 26 saves, to give them a 6-3 man advantage. Griffith scored his second of the game and fifth point of the day when he scored with seven seconds to go to finalize the scoring at 8-3.
The B’s, now only had to beat Team Brick Alberta by four goals on Saturday to advance. That is obviously no easy feat but, the team had a chance! So they thought….
Following the game there was a discussion held with Saskatchewan contending the tie breaker system was not being interpreted correctly. The Bruins, Pats and the tournament staff all met for thirty minutes to discuss and then the tournament staff met privately to make its ruling. The Bruins were told that things had changed and they were no longer in the hunt and that the Toronto Bulldogs and Saskatchewan Jr. Pats would advance regardless of what happens Saturday morning in the B’s/Brick game.
“In all my years of going to tournaments and running tournaments I have never seen something like this,” coach Chris Masters commented. “While I am upset (for the kids) and don’t agree with the interpretation of the ruling, we respect the tournament staff’s decision and don’t want this to take away from an incredible experience and week in Edmonton.”
“These kids have done a remarkable job and the fact we are in the position we are in given the start we had to the tournament and losing a big time player like Pat Moynihan in our opening game says a lot about the character of this team. If we win tomorrow we will have a 3-1-2 record and finish in a tie for most points in our division (which would be the identical record of the Bulldogs and Jr. Pats-Bruins would lose aforementioned tie breaker).”
The Bruins and host team Team Brick Alberta, winners of three of the last five Brick tournaments play at 7:10 AM Saturday.
Posted Saturday (9:00 PM)
EDMONTON, AB-The B’s wrapped up the round robin portion of the Brick tournament with their third straight win and went undefeated in their last five games (3-0-2) beating the host Team Brick Alberta 3-2.
The B’s got down 1-0 just 1:07 into the game but, as they have done all week and all season for that matter, fought back and took a 2-1 lead into the second period on goals from Liam Connors and Jacob Banks. In the second Alberta tied the game with a power play marker six minutes into the middle frame. Three minutes later Jacob Banks would score his second of the game and the game winner when he hunted down a loose puck on while short handed. On the play the puck ended behind Alberta’s net with their goalie and a defensemen both not being sure who is going to play the puck and getting tangled up with each other. Banks stayed with the play, dug the puck out from the goalie’s feet and quickly wrapped it into the net for the 3-2 lead.
The B’s then went into lock down mode the rest of the way to preserve the win and put the B’s into a three way tie for first place in their division. The win included a 38 save performance from Jack Williams.
“Another gutsy performance by this team,” Masters commented. “They have their hearts ripped out prior to the game when we had to tell them we were given the wrong information about still having our playoff hopes alive from the previous day and they still went out and gave a great effort.”
“This has been such a fun group of kids to coach, I have loved every minute of it. To see the team develop from our first practice in early April and see the individual improvement has been fun to watch.”
“We stood toe to toe with the top 2001 teams in North America and finished in a tie for 1st place in our division (losing tie breaker). We were in a murderous division where they was not one easy game or mediocre team and we did it all without one of our best players (Pat Moynihan lost to a broken hand in game one). I couldn’t be prouder of this team.”
To follow tournament results and stats visit the following link: 2011 BRICK RESULTS, STATS AND STANDINGS
Game Recaps to follow.