Alright three days in and we have a pretty good picture of who is looking at competing for spots and who is out of the tournament. Shaping up to be a pretty darn good year.
GAME 1 CALGARY NORTHSTARS 4 CARIBOO COUGARS 2
Northstars just keep getting stronger as this tournament carries on and they looked like a very good team today. Cariboo wasn’t a poor team but they just couldn’t get the puck past a very strong goaltending performance by Ian Scott. Made some great early saves and gave his team the confidence to get ahead. Late in the game Cariboo made it 3-2 and had sustained pressure, but an incredible shot by Tisdale made it 4-2 and seemed to suck some life out of the Cougars. With the win the Northstars have very likely secured themselves a playoff spot. If they keep getting better they should actually be a pretty good playoff round team.
GAME 2 SSAC 6 SAN JOSE 3
Early on looked like SSAC was going to absolutely obliterate San Jose, on pace for near 70 shots at the end of the first and all over the California kids. But the game tightened up a bit. Although never in doubt the Edmonton group let up and kept it from being a snoozer. With the win SSAC sets up a battle with UFA for a pool winner. San Jose gets to book flights back to the sunny south and none to soon as it is getting darn cold here.
Didn’t see much of the next two games so just scores to report
GAME 3 CONTACTS 8 NY ISLANDERS 4
Both the Contacts and the Islanders are essentially eliminated from the playoff round in this tournament after this game.
GAME 4 VANCOUVER CHIEFS 5 TISDALE TROJANS 3
Both of these teams are pretty much out of luck for the playoff round after this game as well.
GAME 5 CALGARY BUFFALOES 9 ONTARIO AVALANCHE 1
Tough night for the Ontario (California) team losing to the best team in the tournament. Both teams started out flying but as the game went on the Buffaloes just got better and better. Their puck support and decision making is elite and if they get a chance it is most likely a goal. Real back breaker was late in the first period. With the score 1-0 Buffs the Avalanche were pressing pretty hard and were on a four minute head contact PP. A quick turnover and chip off the wall up ice lead to a shorthanded goal from Johnson. On the ensuing face-off Phillips grabbed the puck and went up ice feeding Ward for another shorthanded goal to make it 3-0 with about 15 seconds left in the first. Took some of the pressure out of the Ontario team’s game and the Buffaloes just built on it from there. Again Phillips was just amazing all game. He is the tournament MVP three days in with no competition. Watching this kid is a rare treat in this tournament, very special. With the loss Ontario is out of the tournament most likely at 1-2. The Buffaloes have locked up a playoff spot the question is do they beat Regina on the 30th and take home the pool or do they get the wildcard. By far the best team in this tournament. Have to be the clear favourites.
TOMORROW’S ACTION AT MAX BELL
Not a lot of really meaningful games tomorrow until 5:15PM when UFA and SSAC play for the likely right to win their pool. Should be a great game. In league play SSAC holds a slight edge in head to head play. They have played to a 3-3 tie and SSAC won 4-3 a little later on in the schedule.
POOL BY POOL INS AND OUTS
SSAC and UFA are battling for the pool title.
Tisdale, Vancouver Chiefs and San Jose all have 2 losses and are out of the running in this years tournament.
Flames, CAC and Vancouver NW Giants all still in the running. Giants are 2-0-1 with a win over CAC and a tie against the Flames, so are the early favourite. CAC and Flames have yet to play each other. Flames have beat CAC in league play.
Saskatoon Contacts and NY Islanders both have 2 losses and are out of the running in this one.
Calgary Buffaloes and Regina are in a collision course for the final game of the round robin on December 30th (sadly a game I will miss), to decide the winner. Buffaloes have pretty much locked up a spot with 6 pts and great GF-GA totals.
Out in the pool is Ontario Avalanche, Rockets and Grande Prairie all with 2 losses.
Northstars have already won this pool and have only tomorrows feature against a weak Waxers team left.
Battleford and Cariboo still fighting for a shot at a wild card.
Waxers and Lethbridge get the early tickets home.
Germany, Valley West and the Royals all in the running for this one. Royals need to beat Valley West and then have Valley West beat Germans to have a shot to win the pool.
Out is PA Mintos and Huron after taking two losses.
So there it is after 3 days. One team has won its pool and the others shaping up for battles in the last two days. Been a great year so far at this tournament.