Gavin Brindley (4) scores for the East Coast Selects on Tuesday's semifinal win over the Oshawa Jr. Generals.
It's a diverse and talented quartet of teams that have advanced to the semifinal round of the 2004 Division, and tempers are beginning to flare in the tournament's waning days.
The Minnesota Blades took on '04 Vityaz on Tuesday morning and promptly lit the opening minutes of the first half on fire. The Blades out-skated and out-muscled Vityaz to the tune of two goals early on, coming from Charlie Stramel on a Maddox Fleming rebound and then Fleming tallying his fifth goal of the tourney.
Rather than disintegrate, Vityaz regrouped and put together a solid power play opportunity, culminating with a beautiful goal by Abakar Kazbekov. With the lead cut in half, the Blades retook control in the second half, as Cole Spicer notched the team's third goal. Ben Dardis turned away 16 shots in the win for the Blades.
East Coast Selects will meet the Blades in the semifinals after emerging from a physical affair against the Oshawa Jr. Generals. The game saw the second half deteriorate into chaos, with multiple ejections and several dangerous plays. In spite of the hurricane, East Coast Selects cruised to a 5-0 victory, paced by two goals and two assists from Gavin Hayes. Jimmy Snuggerud, Gavin Brindley, and Seamus all added one goal each in the win.
Ilia Glaviuk (left) and Abakar Kazbekov (right) celebrate after Kazbekov scores in Tuesday morning's loss to the Minnesota Blades.
CSKA continued its run of dominance on Tuesday with wins over Dinamo 3-2 and Midwest Select in the quarterfinals by a score of 6-2. CSKA scored three times in both the first and second halves of its victory over Midwest Select, with Roman Makarov's two goals and assist leading the way. Also scoring for CSKA in the win over Midwest Select was Artem Kazakov, Roman Borisenko, Lilia Panin, and Aydar Suniev. With his three-point performance, Makarov is now tied with teammate Kirill Dolzhenkov four fourth in the tournament with 12 total points each.
Joining CSKA in the semifinal round will be Draftday Black, which breezed past Western Canada Selects 3-0 in a game that was far more out of reach than the final score would indicate. Draftday Black pumped 38 shots on Western Canada Selects goaltender Daniel Hauser, with Owen Mehlenbacher finding the back of the net twice and George Fegaras scoring once. Hauser finished the game with 35 saves and played well despite being under constant pressure.
Roman Makarov helped CSKA to the 2004 Division semifinals with two goals and an assist against Midwest Select on Tuesday.
The 2003 Division final will have a distinctly Minnesota flavor to it, with the Blue Army U16 group advancing after a quarterfinal win over North Star Elite and a semifinal win over Hockey Essentials. A 4-1 win over NSE in the morning featured goals from Jackson Blake, Max Burkholder, Carter Batchelder, and Noah Griswold. North Star Elite hung tight for a portion of the game before the depth of Blue Army eventually won out, evidenced by the three second-half goals that allowed Blue Army to pull away.
Paul Huglen scored twice in Tuesday night's semifinal win over Hockey Essentials, a team that took Blue Army to a shootout on Monday, and Batchelder chipping in his second goal of the day for a 3-0 win. Jack Stark posted a 25-save shutout in the semifinals.
My Edge Hockey currently leads all teams in the 2003 Division with 26 goals for the tournament, despite not cresting the .500 mark until Tuesday morning's quarterfinal win over XHP Selects Black. Players hailing from 10 Minnesota-based programs dot the My Edge roster, including Matthew Hein and Blake Ulve of Shattuck-St. Mary's and Albert Lea respectively. Hein and Ulve are tied for second on the team with six total points through seven games.
Jack Stark made 25 saves to earn the shutout in Blue Army U16's 3-0 win over Hockey Essentials in Tuesday night's semifinals.