The 2018 Gloria Rints Memorial International Silver Stick Tournament has officially come to a close, and what a weekend of hockey it was.
In the minor midget age group, 30 of the world’s best teams gathered to do battle in what proved to be a highly competitive and entertaining tournament. Over the course of the four day event a number of highly skilled teams fell early, while others not expected to legitimately compete pushed their way into the elimination rounds through tactile team play.
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However, come the final game of the tournament, the two teams left standing were the clubs which everyone had travelled to Whitby, Ontario to see: Detroit Compuware of the HPHL and the Don Mills Flyers of the GTHL.
Led by two dynamic scorers and an arsenal of reliable defenders, Compuware’s roster presented a significant challenge for the Flyers from the outset of the tournament given its remarkable depth and offensive potency. On the other hand, Don Mills arrived in Whitby in possession of a perfect record, having yet to lose a single game in league or tournament play in 2018-19.
Unfortunately for the Flyers, their sparkling record would be dinged by Compuware.
The Championship Game
Although they had suffered a tie to the Brantford 99ers in round-robin play, Don Mills’ perfect record was technically intact given the lack of a loss within their record. However, Compuware stood determined to hand the Flyers their first defeat of the season, and relied upon each and every member of their roster in order to do so.
The First Period:
The championship game of the Whitby Silver Stick Tournament began well for Compuware, who netted the game’s opening goal as the direct result of a stellar rush put forth by MVP Sasha Pastujov — the tournament’s leading scorer with nine goals and 16 points in seven games played.
However, the Flyers responded quickly, scoring a goal on the very next shift of the game which reinforced their standing as arguably the top minor midget team in the world.
The Second Period:
Deadlocked at one goal apiece, penalty trouble began to brew for both teams to begin the second period — a reality which ignited both electrifying offences.
The first to strike was Compuware, as lethal goal-scorer Redmond Savage blasted home a power play goal from the slot to create a 2-1 advantage for his squad. Then, after killing a long 5-3 penalty kill, yet another penalty — this time a double-minor — opened the door for Don Mills to pounce, and pounce they did as Cole Eichler fired home his fifth goal of the tournament to knot the game at 2-2.
With momentum swinging in favour of the Flyers and their offence operating at full capacity, Shane Wright fired the puck five-hole on goaltender Will Fox to regain a 3-2 lead for his team. Dominating Compuware in the offensive zone and limiting scoring opportunities against, Don Mills appeared to be in excellent shape to secure the Championship as both teams headed to the locker room.
The Third Period
The final stanza of the Whitby Silver Stick Tournament proved to be a wildly entertaining 15 minutes of hockey.
Slow out of the gate to start the period, the Flyers were ambushed by an energetic and determined Compuware team. Seemingly exhausted from the expectations placed upon them this season, Don Mills endured a rough period of hockey mired by moments which lacked both confidence and creativity. As a result, Compuware blasted home two quick goals to seize a 4-3 lead — one of which Flyers goaltender Anson Thornton would surely love to have back.
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Trailing for one of the very few times this season, Don Mills put their heads down and went to work. Although it was extremely difficult for the Flyers to generate lethal scoring opportunities given the stellar defending of Tyler Duke and Ty Gallagher, Don Mills drew even owing to a rebound goal from Brennan Othmann with a mere 19 seconds remaining — a tally which brought the Iroquois Park Sports Centre to its feet.
Having forced overtime despite being outplayed for portions of the third period, it appeared as though the Flyers might be able to maintain their impressive perfect record after all.
It didn’t take long for Compuware to re-establish its tenacious forecheck in overtime, as the team’s fleet-footed and highly competitive forwards set to work in their attacking zone.
Forcing turnovers while dominating puck possession, Compuware drove the Flyers to make a number of uncharacteristic mistakes which resulted in excellent yet unproductive scoring opportunities. However, it would prove to be only a matter of time for Compuware, who cliched the Whitby Silver Stick Tournament championship on a goal from Noah Laba — a strong two-way player who blasted home a loose puck from the slot.
In short, the championship game between Don Mills and Compuware was one for the ages.
Riddled with exciting moments and jaw-dropping displays of skill, both teams put forth a tremendous effort — and especially so given it was each squad’s seventh game played in a four-day span. Saturated with elite young prospects and immensely promising youngster, the championship game displayed the very best which the 2003 and 2004 age groups have to offer.