99ers open with victories
Brantford host minor midget showcase at Gretzky centre
The Brantford 99ers showed Friday why they are one of the favourites to win the 20th Annual Dale Parker Memorial Boston Pizza Cup Minor Midget AAA Showcase.
Playing in front of their hometown fans at Rink 1 at the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre, Brantford skated to a 5-1 victory versus the Southern Tier Admirals in the opening game of the Brantford Minor Hockey Association hosted tournament.
Brantford won its second game 4-0 versus Alberta’s Lloydminster Rohan Bobcats.
In its 20 year history, the event has never had a winner from Brantford.
With a record of 19-6-4, the 99ers have one of the strongest minor midget AAA teams in recent memory.
“No other Brantford team has won it so we’re hoping to be the first,” Brantford forward Maddox Callens said after his team’s win.
“Hopefully, we can get a huge boost off this, boost our confidence and carry it over.”
The minor midget showcase tournament features 11 teams of players with 2003 birth years. The weekend event will include some of the top players eligible for the 2019 Ontario Hockey League draft.
Brantford has several players who could be selected by OHL teams in the spring.
Callens said it’s a fun group to be around.
“There’s no arguing in the room or any negativity,” he said. “It’s great.” Friday’s morning game was the fourth time Brantford and Southern Tier have faced one another this season. In the three previous games, each team won one game and tied one.
Brantford spent little time in its opponent’s end to open Friday’s game, getting few shots on Southern Tier goalie Benjamin Bonisteel.
After successfully killing off the game’s first penalty, Brantford made good on a chance to take the lead.
With two Admiral players in the penalty box, Steven LaForme opened the scoring at 9:06, taking a perfectly placed Landon McCallum cross-ice pass and putting it up high behind Bonisteel.
Just 38 seconds later, with one Southern Tier player remaining in the penalty box, the home team made it 2-0 when Brenden Anderson scored.
Cole Hipkin and Zachary Betts also got assists on those goals.
Although there was no scoring in the second period, it wasn’t for a lack of an attack on Brantford’s part. Along with a LaForme shot off the post, the 99ers outshot the Admirals 12-3 and were ahead in shots on goal 17-11 when the intermission began.
With fewer than a dozen shots fired his way, Ben DiGiallonardo wasn’t too busy in the Brantford goal but he made the necessary saves to keep his team ahead 2-0 going into the third period.
Less than a minute into the final period, the home team’s lead was extended when Callens scored past Bonisteel to make it 3-0. Assists on that goal went to McCallum and Hipkin.
Trying to keep his shutout intact, DiGiallonardo made his best save of the game midway through the third, stopping Griffin Vaughn with the paddle of his stick on the ice while the 99ers were shorthanded.
With less than five minutes remaining in the game, McCallum took a pass from Callens. After his initial shot went wide of the net, McCallum chased down the puck. Throwing it on goal from the corner, it somehow found its way into the back of the net.
Owen Rainey also drew an assist on that goal.
Following a Callens’ breakaway goal, the Admirals spoiled DiGiallonardo’s bid for a shutout by scoring with 2:15 left in the game.
Brantford’s other preliminary games – all on Rink 1 – are Saturday at 10 a.m. against North York Rangers and 5:45 p.m. versus Oshawa Minor Generals.
The quarter-finals, semifinals and final will be played on Sunday at the Gretzky centre.
Visit https://tinyurl.com/ycnpuqu9 for more information on the tournament, including schedules and results.
Login Wilson of the Brantford 99ers chases after the puck which deflected off Southern Tier Admirals goalie Benjamin Bonisteel during a game at the Dale Parker Memorial Boston Pizza Cup Minor Midget AAA Showcase tournament on Friday at the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre.