The 2015 Bauer World Invite Tournament held over the weekend represents the largest youth hockey tournament in the world in one city.
The tournament has been a huge success growing each year of its existence. This year they reported 440 teams registered, and 7740 players participated in the event playing 964 games. Opening festivities included the Hanson Brothers form the motion picture Slap shot and a host of celebrities who kicked off the festivities..
After all the pomp and circumstance the pucks dropped and the do or die mentality quickly took over. The U15 TPH Thunder comprised of Atlanta youth players as well as those from other parts of the South surprised onlookers with an inspired performance that put them just three goals from winning the Bauer Tournaments Vapor Division.
The Vapor division Championship game on November 8th between the TPH Thunder and the Sioux Falls Stampede was a closer contest that the 3-1 score represented.
The Sioux team was an older U16 AAA squad that hit hard and often with many of the players having a height and weight advantage over the 15 year old. The Thunder scrapped their way to a 17 win 6 loss record. The team went into the tournament determined to prove their record was not a fluke and they were successful at turning heads of coaches and opposing teams. The Thunder hockey organization has never had a team in the finals in the history of the program.
Thunder forwards Garret Spain, was voted MVP and played very well leading the team and scoring with 2 goals and 4 assists to go with a + plus 5. Following him was defenseman Jonathan Shaw who had 1 goal and 3 assists and was a + plus 4.
“The difference maker was desire each player displayed going into the corners and bodying their bigger and older opponents in the championship matchup” said one parent .
Players like Cole Warner, Braiden Dorfman, Easton Shepherd, Ry Dukes, Colin Hedge, Trevor Russell and Coby Smith each contributed when the team needed a goal or a key play. In order for any team in the Bauer tourney to reach the finals their goaltending had to be stellar and the Thunders was with Collin Hilton and Jared Darrow each coming up big when it counted. .
Thunder coach Roman Marakhovski said “We will continue our development and what happened this weekend is a great achievement for each and every one of the boys and the organization as a whole.”
Championship Game Finalists:
2006 AAA Richmond Hill Coyotes, ONT 6 Florida Alliance, FL 2
2006 ELITE Don Mills Flyers, ONT 2 SKA – Strelna, RUSSIA 1
2005 AAA Livingston Lightning, MI 10 Soo Jr Greyhounds, ONT 5
2005 ELITE Long Island Gulls, NY 5 OT Chicago Young Americans, IL 4
2004 AAA Waterloo Wolves, ONT 1 Affton Americans, MO 0
2004 ELITE Honeybaked, MI 5 Chicago Young Americans, IL 2
2003 AAA Falcons Hockey Association, IL 6 York Simcoe Express, ONT 1
2003 ELITE Chicago Young Americans, IL 3 Chicago Mission, IL 2
2002 AAA Burlington Eagles, ONT 5 Falcons Hockey Assn , IL 3
2002 ELITE ISS Kings, NJ 4 Toronto Marlboros, ONT 3
2001 Vapor Romeoville Huskies, IL 4 OT Long Island Royals, NY 3
2001 Nexus Minneapolis Storm, MN 4 Oakville Rangers, ONT 1
2001 Supreme Belle Tire, MI 4 Detroit Compuware, MI 0
U16 Vapor Sioux Falls Jr Stampede, SD 3 Thunder U15, TN 1
U16 Nexus Milwaukee Jr Admirals U15, WI 4 OT/SO Asburne Xtreme, VA 3
U16 Supreme Colorado Thunderbirds, CO 5 Little Caesars, MI 2