The Bantam Marlboros travelled to Edmonton, Alberta this past week to test their team skills against some of the top Bantam Teams in Canada. The John Reid Memorial Tournament, a 16-team Bantam Showcase featured the top 5 ranked Bantam teams in Canada + #1… the Toronto Marlboros. Scouts, agents, parents and fans from Western Canada were in attendance to watch the top players who are eligible for the CHL Draft… Bantam Western Hockey League only. Average daily attendance was well over 1,000 spectators.
Although the Marlboro players will be entering the OHL Draft as Minor Midgets the following year, the team decided to “test the waters” to expose their elite group of players to what the future has in store. Some of the competitors in future years will no doubt be part of Team Canada; and many will become teammates along the way in the U17 & U18 Hockey Canada experiences.
Over the course of the tourney the team overcame a great deal of adversity. In Days 1 & 2 jet lag affected their performance; especially in the second game when they were defeated by Calgary Bisons, after beating Fort Saskatchewan in the opening game. Also, game lengths were 3 x 20 minute periods which were much longer than the team had ever played. Exhaustion played its part.
Somehow the team managed to move on to the play-off round by forcing a tie with well-renowned Notre Dame Hounds in their final round-robin game. The semi-finals proved to be a highly contested match but unfortunately with 7 seconds remaining, with the Marlboros leading 5-3, the Pursuit of Excellence Team, the team ranked #1 in Canada, decided to engage in fisticuffs. The outcome resulted in some game ejections and suspensions for both teams. This turn of events meant the Marlboros would move on to the finals minus two of their top players.
Moving on to the Final the Marlboros were matched against Yale Academy, a hockey Prep School out of Abbottsford, British Columbia. A Program ranked Number 3 in the country. The final game was to be as expected. After 3 regulation periods the score was tied 4-4 and headed into a ten-minute sudden death overtime period. In overtime both teams exchanged excellent chances to score but were denied that winning goal… so on to a shoot-out.
Marlboros Stephen Halliday scored on his first attempt to put the pressure on Yale. Goaltender Connor Mackenzie who was outstanding throughout the tournament then turned away all three Yale attempts, to seal a 5-4 Championship Win!
A special mention is extended to Lleyton Moore, Jamie Drysdale, and Stephen Halliday who were voted on to the WHL Scouts All-Star Team. Both Drysdale and Moore (2) won game MVP’s during the tournament., while Drysdale was recognized as the Game MVP in the finals. We would be remiss if not to mention the “call-ups”, Christian Coffey and Ethan Del Mastro for their outstanding contributions.
As Coach Richard Power stated: “It was a complete Team effort by the boys who overcame a great deal of adversity.”
With that Goal attained the team must now turn its attention to a grueling play-off leading to the All-Ontario Championships.
View the links below for more tournament details.