Jr. Blues crowned Showcase champions
The Springfield Jr. Blues were crowned champions of the fifth annual NAHL Showcase Tournament after finishing the event with a perfect 4-0 record.
Springfield edged out the St. Louis Bandits, who also finished with a 4-0 mark, in the total goal differential tie-breaker.
"This was a great four days for us," said Jr. Blues coach Chris Wyler. "Our entire team played well and we couldn't have asked for a better way to start off the season.
"It was a great weekend of hockey and a confidence-booster for our organization, but we realize that it's only four games and that we have a lot of work ahead of us to attain our goals."
Third-year Wichita Falls Wildcats forward Adam Cardwell was named the Showcase's Sherwood/Most Valuable Player and to the All-Tournament Team. The 20-year-old from Long Beach, Calif., led all Showcase scorers with three goals for 10 points as the Wildcats skated to a 3-0-1 record.
"Adam was the catalyst to our team's success," said Wildcats coach-GM John Bowkus. "He competes hard every shift and his leadership on the ice and off has already paid dividends for a team with lots of new faces. His play earned him lots of interest from college scouts."
"I'm honored to be named the Showcase MVP and couldn't have done it without my two linemates, Grant Everett and Luke Salazar, because they are absolute snipers," said Cardwell.
The Jr. Blues opened the tournament with a 4-1 win over the Fairbanks Ice Dogs. Kyle Greco, Andy Kitt and Taylor Kennedy each scored a goal and an assist for Springfield, while All-Tournament Team goaltender Phil Cook made 26 saves.
On Thursday, All-Tournament Team selection Darren Rowe scored the game-winning goal and an assist as the Jr. Blues edged the Alexandria Blizzard, 3-2. Jared Rickord notched two goals in the win, while Ales Sila turned aside 33 shots between the pipes.
Nine different players lit the lamp for Springfield as it blasted the Kenai River Brown Bears on Friday, 9-1. Matt Globke notched a goal and three assists (he was also a plus-3), while Cory Patterson chipped in a goal and two helpers. Cook made 14 saves.
The Jr. Blues cruised to a 6-2 win over the Alaska Avalanche on the tournament's final day. Jon Gaffney struck for two goals and was a plus-4 for Springfield and Patterson added a goal and two assists. Sila made 12 saves in net.
"As a staff, we were happy with the overall play of the team," said Wyler. "We got good goaltending and we felt that our veteran players stepped up and showed great leadership and our first-year guys showed that they're eager to contribute."
SHERWOOD ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
G - Phil Cook, Springfield Jr. Blues
D - Darren Rowe, Springfield Jr. Blues
D - Robert Blanchette, Texas Tornado
F- Adam Cardwell, Wichita Falls Wildcats
F - Luke Salazar, Wichita Falls Wildcats
F - Corey Jendras, Topeka RoadRunners
MVP: Adam Cardwell, Wichita Falls Wildcats