In a weekend featuring Minnesota’s top hockey players age 15-18, the Senior All-Stars highlighted the strength of hockey in Minnesota by dominating the CCM National Invitational Tournament. The team displayed talent and depth, winning each of their games by significant margins en route to the NIT title.
The Minnesota Senior All Stars were composed of the top players from the Ted Brill Great 8 Festival. The team didn’t waste any time showing why they are considered the best high school players in Minnesota, opening with a 10-0 win over Massachusetts on Friday night. Five different players recorded three or more points for Minnesota, including Jake Jackson who had three goals and two assists in the game.
On Saturday, the Senior All Stars faced Wisconsin in a game that was highlighted by special teams play. The teams combined for five power play goals and Zach LaValle added a shorthanded goal for the MN Seniors. Jackson played a large role again in the Senior All Stars’ 7-2 win, scoring two of the game’s three even strength goals late in the first period to give Minnesota a 3-1 lead they would never relinquish.
The CCM NIT Championship game pitted Senior All Stars against Michigan, who had edged out the MN U18 team 4-3 the night before. LaValle opened the scoring with a power play goal early in the first period, but Michigan’s Samuel Rennaker responded just 51 seconds later to tie the game. Mason Bergh regained the lead for Minnesota with a shorthanded goal. Alex Funk provided the eventual game winner with less than a minute remaining in the first period, and the Senior All Stars rolled to a 6-2 victory.
“The NIT features the top high school players in the country,” said High Performance Director, Mike MacMillan. “To have our Seniors win the tournament and our U18’s finish third, it just continues to show that the system we have here in Minnesota is very effective at developing players.”
The Senior All Stars exhibited talent and depth throughout the weekend, showcasing the strength of the community based model in Minnesota. The team claimed the top four scorers in the tournament: Funk (7G, 1A), LaValle (3G, 5A), Jackson (5G, 2A) and Matt Serratore (1G, 5A). Over the course of the three game weekend, 16 of 18 players on the Minnesota roster recorded points. That could be a great sign for the future of this group of players, especially with the number of junior, college and NHL scouts present.
“The NIT for the most part - most of the kids, not all of the kids - are draft eligible this year,” said Gary Harker, regional scout for the Toronto Maple Leafs, on the importance of the CCM NIT for NHL scouts. “It gives us a last look at some of the players that are draft eligible.”
Reebok High Performance 16 & 17 Final 54
The Boys’ and Girls’ HP 16 & 17 Final 54 was held in conjunction with the CCM NIT this past weekend, making the Plymouth Ice Center a major destination for fans, players, coaches and scouts.
“This tournament for us is just so valuable,” said Harker, who has worked for four different teams over his 23 years as an NHL scout. “All three of them actually, the 16s, the 17s and then of course the NIT. When we see these kids against better competition, it helps us immensely in evaluating the players for the draft.”
The Final 54 consisted of three teams at each age level playing two games in a round robin format and one “cross-over” game against a team of a different age level. For complete results from each game, visit Minnesota Hockey Hub.
The top players from the Final 54 at each age level will be selected to represent Minnesota Hockey at a national festival, sponsored by USA Hockey, which involves the best players from each of the USA Hockey districts. The national festivals/camps are used by USA Hockey to identify the top performers in each age group for possible opportunities to represent the United States at advanced levels of national and international competition. The national roster for Minnesota is expected to be released in seven to ten days.
Reebok High Performance 15 Spring Festival
Also taking place April 26-28 was the Boys’ and Girls’ HP 15 Spring Festival in Edina. The HP 15 Spring Festival is designed to bring the best players from each district or section together to showcase their abilities and compete for the opportunity to participate in a week long Summer Festival in St. Cloud.
The festival was held in a round robin format. The boys’ teams had three pools of four teams, based on the results of the seeding games played the previous weekend. The red pool consisted of the teams that went 2-0 during the seeding games. District 10 and District 8 tied 5-5 in a showdown for the red pool championship. District 16 won the blue pool (0-2), and District 6 won the white pool (1-1). Complete results are on the Boys HP 15 page.
The 2013 HP 15 Summer Festivals will be held this coming June in St. Cloud, MN. The boys and girls selected to participate will be exposed to an extended camp that features daily classroom session, dry land training, and several scrimmages. The staff includes current and former college players, prominent high school and college coaches and Minnesota Hockey officials.
The Girls’ Senior All Stars continued their prowess, claiming their third consecutive NIT title with a shootout win over Wisconsin. The Minnesota Senior All Stars went 4-0-1 over the weekend winning their games by a combined score of 28-8. The Girls’ U18 also took third place with their only loss coming against the Girls’ Senior All Stars.