WOW just about sums up the four days and eighteen games of ball hockey we all witnessed in the 2012 Premier Showcase Tournament. Every game had a meaning, every game was crucial and every game was exciting. All ten teams came out to play and entertained the fans and their peers. Group one saw the Express, St. Mike’s and the Hawks all battle each other and the division results would come down to a game between the Hawks and Express to see who would join the surprising St. Mike’s in the semi final who breezed through the round robin with a 2-0-1 record good for five points. In a game that packed the arena with fans both teams needed a win as a tie would eliminate both sides. Mike Porter would open the scoring in the first minute of the game and the Express were ahead. That lead would hold up until late in the game when ex Express Captain Matt Tremblett fired a rocket to the top corner and the game was deadlocked at ones. If that result held up it would have opened up the door for the Vaughan Red Wings to sneak in to the semi-finals. A Freddie Pereira PP goal with 1:09 left would give the Express the lead they wouldn’t give up. The Express would gain the wild card seed edging out the VRW by .010 percentage points. One goal was the difference in getting in or being eliminated, a game of inches.
The defending Premier Pre Season Tournament Champions the Thunder coasted through the round robin play as they defeated the Vaughan Red Wings, Metro Orangemen and Toronto Polar Bears to win their division and the number one seed heading in to the semi-final round. Their reward would be a rematch with the Express in a replay of last year’s final. The Leominster Flyers and Niagara Generals went into their last game with a spot in the semis on the line. The Americans looking to reach the semi-final for the second consecutive year tightened up defensively and held the Generals at bay recording a 2-0 win and a matchup with St. Mike's. These two faced each other in the round robin play and the Flyers would look to avenge a 3-1 loss to St. Mike’s.
In the first SF game the Express would open the scoring as Mike Porter quickly gets the offence rolling. The Thunder and their quick strike offence sees Glen Bradbury score from a tight angle as he shoots the ball from behind the goal line and hits DiGironimo in the shoulder and the ball goes in. Just minutes later Marco Goncalves with a highlight shorthanded goal gives the Thunder the lead. With just a couple of minutes left Mike Porter with his second of the game draws the Express even. The overtime session would settle nothing and the dreaded shootout would be needed to decide the first finalist. The first shooter Frankie Giustini of the Express would calmly beat Giffin with a backhand deke and the Express would go up 1-0. The next five shooters would not have any luck as Principe, Goncalves, and Duarte all misfire in their attempts against DiGironimo in the Express goal. Morrison and Tabas would each miss as well for the Express but the Giustini goal turns into the game winner and the Express are off to the finals.
A Canada USA matchup was up next. The Leominster Flyers all the way from Boston looked to reach their first Premier tournament finals. Standing in their way would be the up and coming St. Michael's BHC. St. Mike’s went through the round robin play with a 2-0-1 record and were very stingy defensively giving up only three goals in the process. St. Mike’s would open the scoring as Danny Novis, their stellar defensemen, would bury a slap shot from the slot to give his team a 1-0 lead. The Americans would battle hard and tie the game late in the first. As the seconds ticked down in the first period St. Mike’s would regain a one goal advantage as Jon Macri with one second left in the frame gives his club the edge. The Flyers with the clock ticking down in their tournament lives through everything they have at the St. Mike’s goal only to be turned away by goaltender Anthony Flores time and time again. The Flyers would be granted a two man advantage chance in the last minute with their goalie pulled for a six on three man advantage. After a furious finish and more great saves St. Mike’s escapes with a 2-1 victory.
The final saw a rematch of the opening round group game that saw St. Mike’s come away with a 1-0 victory over the National Champions. The Express were looking to avenge the loss and take home the Pre Season Tournament prize. For anyone that didn’t get a chance to witness this game in person you missed on great ball hockey game. Both teams would refuse to give an inch and both battled through 30 minutes of scoreless hockey. Overtime would be needed to crown a Champion. After an exciting edge of your seat back and forth action the first OT period would go scoreless. As fatigue settled in both teams pressed to score the one goal that would end this marathon. After all the chances the deciding play would come from one of the all time greats in this sport. Chris “Magic” Morrison Jr. pulled some magic out of his bag of tricks. As I stood behind the St. Mike’s goal watching the play I’m still in awe three days later reliving the moment in my mind. Morrison left unmarked behind the opposition goal lifts the ball on to the blade of his stick gains an angle to try and wrap the ball into the net while it’s still resting on the blade of his stick. He then flicks the ball in the air and bats it into the top corner behind Anthony Flores in St. Mike’s goal. A classic Morrison goal to end the game. The Express bench erupts in joyful celebration as the game lasts nearly fifty minutes before a winner was decided 1-0 in double overtime
After four long days the 2012 Pre Season Tournament had come to an end. With many pressure packed games throughout the tournament each and every game was meaningful and exciting the way Premier ball hockey should be. Many players stood out for their outstanding play and rewarded with tournament All-Stars for their fine play. In goal from St. Mike’s BHC Anthony Flores, on defence Freddie Pereira from the Brampton Express and Danny Novis from St. Mike’s, upfront huge tournaments from Mike Porter Brampton Express, Jon Macri St. Mike’s and Chris Morrison Brampton Express. All were recognized for their fine contributions.
I would like to take this time to thank all the staff and officials that helped make this tournament a success. To all the teams that came out ready to play and showed sportsmanship and class throughout the weekend it’s you that make this division the best in the Province. Thank you to all the fans that came out to support your favourite teams.
Just a reminder that the regular season begins this Saturday in Niagara where the Generals will open up the season versus St. Michael’s BHC at 5pm.
Here are the tournament results:
Brampton Express 1 St. Michael's BHC 0 (Double Overtime Final)
Brampton Express 3 Toronto Thunder 2 (Shootout Final)
St. Michael's 2 Leominster Flyer 1
Saturday Afternoon Results
Niagara Generals 5 Oshawa Bruins 3
Toronto Thunder 5 Toronto Polar Bears 0
Vaughan Red Wings 4 Metro Orangemen 1
Brampton Express 2 Mississauga Hawks 1
Leominster Flyers 2 Niagara Generals 0
Saturday Morning Results
St. Michael's 2 Mississauga Hawks 2
Leominster Flyers 4 Oshawa Bruins 1
Toronto Thunder 3 Metro Orangemen 0
Vaughan Red Wings 3 Toronto Polar Bears 1
Brampton Express 3 Oshawa Bruins 1
Mississauga Hawks 4 Niagara Generals 3
St. Michael's BHC 3 Leominster Flyers 1
Metro Orangemen 2 Toronto Polar Bears 1
St. Michael's BHC 1 Brampton Express 0
Toronto Thunder 3 Vaughan Red Wings 0