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Bantam Elite Majors: Opening Weekend

By YHH Staff , 08/04/20, 3:15PM CDT


Big, Bad Bruins, Sharks rely on Saxe, defending champ Wisconsin battles its way to 1-2.

Wisconsin's Caden Michael scores in Sunday's shootout win over North Dakota. The defending champion Wisconsin team starts in BEL Major title defense at 1-2 after the first weekend.

The 2020 Bruins: Big, Bad and Beckett

On April 22, 2020, the NHL Network published a blurb about a documentary in the works titled "The 1970 Bruins: Big, Bad & Bobby", described as a roundtable interview with Bruin legends Bobby Orr, Gerry Cheevers, Phil Esposito, and Derek Sanderson about how the group became not only Stanley Cup champions but local heroes that carried a city just as much as they carried each other. 

Sidenote: If you have time to Google one of those former Bruins, make it Derek Sanderson. 

If the 2020 Bantam Elite League ever manufactured the budget for a documentary, the BEL's version would also feature the Bruins - but the roundtable would include Beckett Hendrickson, Brittan Alstead, Ben Norris, and Hagen Burrows. 

The quartet led the Bruins to a sparkling 4-0 mark after the BEL's first weekend, played in Mendota Heights, with Hendrickson pacing both the team and league in scoring so far with seven goals and 15 points. Norris follows Hendrickson with seven goals and 13 points, while Alstead leads the team in goals with eight, and Burrows tops the group in assists with 10. The Bruins averaged 7.75 goals-per-game over the weekend, outscoring opponents 31-18 in the process.  

Bruins forward Beckett Hendrickson leads the BEL Majors with 15 total points in four games.

Sharks Nearly Ruin Staff's Sunday Afternoon

This may come as a surprise, but some Sundays, the YHH staff doesn't mind seeing the final contest of the day go into running-time. After a full seven-day stretch of games at a half-dozen facilities, complete with all the trappings that go along with running a tournament (directions to the bathroom, reminding lobby-roaming siblings that you don't have change for a dollar, etc.), patience and caffeine levels are understandably low.

So when the Bruins stampeded (do Bears stampede?) to a 5-0 lead over the Sharks in the first half of Sunday's finale, there was no collective groan from the YHH staff. As long as the lead stands at five or more, the clock will run in the second half of Bantam Elite games, and with cool temps and the Stanley Cup playoffs making its return, an early ending wasn't exactly met with despair. 

Less than two minutes into the second half, Sharks forward Michael Risteau cut the Bruin lead to 5-1, and all active brunch plans, coffee dates, and lawn-mowing adventures came to a halt. 

For 13 minutes, the score stayed at 5-1 before Risteau scored again, making the game 5-2 and sparking his team to a full comeback, forcing a shootout after scoring three more times in the final nine minutes of regulation. Unfortunately for the Sharks, the Bruins pulled off the win in the extra session, but the effort put forth by the Sharks made one YHH staffer proud to cancel his reservation for eggs benedict with truffle hollandaise and tomato juice.   

Michael Risteau powered the Sharks to a five-goal comeback attempt on Sunday in a heartbreaking 6-5 shootout loss to the Bruins.

Opening Weekend's Top Performers

Each Bantam Elite team picked up a win on opening weekend, a point in favor of the notion that the overall competitiveness of the league remains high. 

Well, games can't be won without players, so here are a handful of names (probably not enough depending on which anonymous Twitter avatar you ask) that stood out over the last few days. 

Andrew Saxe

The Sharks goaltender stopped 92 shots in 125 minutes of action and turned in one of the best Bantam Elite goaltending performances in recent memory with 49 saves on 50 shots in a 3-1 win over North Dakota. 

Danny Nelson 

While Nelson's Penguins went 1-3 to open the BEL Major season, the Osseo-Maple Grove product's play has been quality, recording five goals and seven points in four games. Nelson totaled multiple points in three of the four games last weekend. 

Sam Scheetz and Lucas Schanno 

The Bolts duo took care of business on both ends of the ice this weekend, with Scheetz leading the team in scoring with five goals. Schanno posted a goals-against-average of 2.67 and save percentage of .917, both tops in the league for a netminder with over 75 minutes between the pipes. Thanks in part to Scheetz and Schanno's play, the Bolts took home victories in two of three games in Mendota Heights.

Owen Branson and Kai Weigel

The silver lining of the weekend for North Dakota is that two of the three losses in four games came by two goals or less, including a 3-2 shootout loss to Wisconsin. Branson notched four goals and five points in the four games, while Weigel stopped 63 of 69 shots for a save percentage of .913. 

Caden Michael and Cade Kozak

Michael scored in Wisconsin's shootout win over North Dakota on Sunday and led the defending BEL Major champs with three goals and five points, while Kozak has a team-high four scores after four games. Wisconsin will get another shot at North Dakota on Sunday, August 9, in Eden Prairie. 

Thomas Herman and Brayden Berg

Herman leads the North Stars in scoring with six points on three goals and three assists, and Berg is the leader in assists with four and is tied with Evan Gunderson, Thomas Gunderson, and Noah Urness for second on the team with five points. The North Stars dropped two of their four games over the weekend, scoring four goals in each loss against Wisconsin and the Bolts.      

Owen Branson, North Dakota.

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