The crown jewel of spring hockey tournaments is set to get underway tomorrow as teams converge on Winnipeg for the North American Hockey Classic Tournament. The 2003 born super elite division will feature 2 pools of 5 teams each with teams coming all the way from Detroit, Illinois, BC and Minnesota. On the surface, it looks like the HPL Alliance and the Stars Elite are the team to beat but there are also several American teams who could factor in this year as well as Team Manitoba. Below is a bit of a preview.
2003 Born Super Elite – Pool Black
Detroit Little Caesars
- The Patrick Stefan led Little Caesars finished 2nd place in the HPHL with a record of 15-5-0, finishing 2nd place behind the 20-0-0 Chicago Mission. Patrick Stefan link on his story: http://www.pointstreaksites.com/view/littlecaesarshockey/home-of-the-lc-aaa-hockey-club/news-972/news_449066. His son James who wears one of his dad’s former numbers (#13) is a top offensive player on the team and played last year in the tournament with the 2K3 team. Other top players are Nickita Moiseev, Davis Codd, Tate Kovacs and Griffin Jurecki. In goal, Zakeri Brice is a high end tender who actually hails from Alaska. Zak also played last year with the 2K3 squad.
- The Machine are usually a serious threat in major tournaments and this year should be no different. Jackson Borst, Marc Lund, Bennett Soderberg, Charlie Lindberg led the offensive attack while D – Wyatt Wurst is very strong. In goal, look for Matthew Syverson to stand tall.
Sask Sting Elite
- The Sask Sting Elite are led by a big, strong defense core but the scoring could be a bit of an issue in this years tournament. Karter Prososky, William Irvine, Adam McNutt, Jeremy Hancock and Marek Schneider give the team a solid defense core that can both move the puck well as well as all play very physical. In goal, Jaxson Taupert, who will be heading to RHA in the fall provides a stable presence. Up front, Connor Roulette, Rory Neill, Jaden Wiens and 2005 born Connor Yager will be looked upon to provide offence.
- In our view, the HPL Alliance are hands down the top team in the pool and one of the favorites to win the tournament. Several top ranked prospects lead the way for the Alliance with high end first rounders – Logan Stankoven, Trevor Wong, Kobe Verbicky, Fin Williams, Jake Chiasson and Ty Mueller leading the way. Defensively, the team is rock solid as well with size and skill led by the likes of Ethan Samson, Elias Carmichael and Nolan Bentham. Liam Vanderkooi in goal is one of the top ranked goalies in western Canada.
- The Sting look to be over-matched in this tournament. Dawson Pasternak from Winnipeg is one of the top ranked players on the team and we have him going in the mid rounds of the draft currently. Another Winnipeg prospect, G – Cole Plowman is ranked as well and will have to be very strong if the team is to hang in the games. Jared Chapel from Winnipeg on defense has shown some promise as well.
- The Minnesota Playmakers team have some top Minnesota prospects to watch including Brody Lamb who consistently racks up the points. Lamb was the winner of the prestigious Minnesota Wiz Wyatt award handed out to a player who is a great player, leader and multi-sport athlete. Another high end forward to watch closely is Layten Liffrig who is dynamic player. Defenseman to watch for the Minnesota squad are: Evan Murr and Blake Polifka. Eli Andrews is a pretty capable goaltender as well for a pretty good team here.
- Team Manitoba will ice a fairly strong squad led by one of the top forwards in Western Canada with Eric Alarie. Alarie will be helped up front by the likes of high end forward Skyler Bruce along with Mike Svenson, Garett Zasitko and Aidan Litke. Defensively, Hudson Thornton will lead and be looked on to log some huge minutes along with Brandt Clarke who is from eastern Canada but originally from Winnipeg so he comes back to play each year. Goaltending is solid with high ranked Tyler Brennan as well as Carter Ullett.
- The Rage are a team made up from players from all over Western Canada and western USA. The offence may not have the high end stars a couple of the other elite teams in this tournament have but are deep through 3 lines and as a result should be a threat to go far. Alex Bernauer from Saskatoon along with the likes of Tyson Laventure, Josh Medernach and Brett Moravec are just a few of the forwards who should put up decent numbers. Defensively, the team looks decent with Noah Barlage, Spencer Shugrue who played with the LA Jr. Kings last season and Hunter Larocque leading the way. Michael Neumeier, Eric Robbie and Cole Assaily are other capable defenders which give the team 6 possible WHL bantam draft picks coming up this year. Kail Depape is a pretty good goalie to rely upon as well.
- Another of the true powerhouse teams along with the HPL Alliance from the other pool. The Stars Elite are littered with high end prospects led by the #1 overall ranked 2004 born prospect in Matthew Savoie and top 5 overall 2003 prospects Sean Tschigerl, Cole Sillinger and top defenseman Carson Lambos! Other forwards such as Hayden Wilm, Dylan Guenther will make this team extremely tough to contain. Along with Lambos on defense, Marc Lajoie who is high ranked himself along with Corson Ceulemans and Nolan Allan give the team 3 of the better defenseman in western Canada. Owen Albers from Calgary played AA last year and Jackson Fellner who played in the SBAAHL with Regina last year will handle the duties.
Rockford Junior Icehogs
- What we know of thie Junior Icehogs is that they have had to recruit a few players last minute to fill out their rosters but they are led by D – John Wojciechowski, F – Ethan Ullrick and F – Zach Burfoot.