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U8 Trail Blazers take inaugural league championship

While it was the second year that travel hockey players from the Essex and Southpoint centres have competed together, this year was the first under the newly minted banner of the Talbot Trail Blazers. 

The 2023-24 U8 MD Talbot Trail Blazers hold the distinction of being the inaugural cohort who will represent Talbot Trail throughout their entire travel hockey careers.

In September 2023, U8 MD tryouts were open to players from Essex, Leamington and Wheatley. Roughly half of the players who would make up the team had played development house league hockey for Southpoint and the other half for Essex. 

In 2024, while continuing their local play, the Blazers competed in the West London Tournament in January and their home Southpoint Winter Classic in February. An official score is not kept in U8 MD, as teams face off in half-ice 4-on-4 games, but the Blazers competed on an even footing with future AAA and AA centres such as Oakville, Hamilton, Kitchener, North Toronto, Woolwich, Woodstock, Whitby, North London and Brantford.

On Easter weekend the Blazers competed in the Tecumseh PowerTech Wrap-Up Tournament against opponents such as Belle River, Windsor, Riverside, Tecumseh and Sylvania, Ohio. 

The Blazers squad was split into two even teams for this tournament and both performed well, advancing to the quarter-finals.

On Saturday, March 30 in the play-in quarter-finals, Blazers Squad 1 scored a late go-ahead goal and cranked out a gutsy 3-2 win over the Tecumseh Eagles, setting up an unlikely semi-final as the two Talbot Trail teams would face each other. 

Squad 2 prevailed by a 2-1 score in this game, with Squad 1 advancing to the third-place game and Squad 2 heading into the championship.

In the third-place game, the Blazers faced a familiar foe in the Tecumseh Eagles. The Blazers scored first but the Eagles found an equalizer midway through the second frame and it would require overtime to find a winner.

As time passed, the numbers were reduced from 4-on-4 with no winner, to 3-on-3 with no winner, and finally to 2-on-2 hockey, before Tecumseh scored for the 2-1 win, relegating Squad 1 to fourth place.

In the championship game, the Blazers Squad 2 faced off against another familiar rival in the Belle River Jr. Canadiens. The team jumped out to an early lead that they would never relinquish and when the final buzzer sounded it was the Talbot Trail Blazers who were champions, by a score of 8-5, with the whole team joining in the celebrations. 

Combined, the Blazers had the best performance of any centre at the tournament with 10 wins and three losses.

This week’s
online edition

Wednesday, July 17, 2024

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