Twenty-six teams compete in annual Al Kennedy Memorial on Easter Weekend
By Pat Payton
It’s usually not easy to win your division in the annual No-Body Contact tournament, sponsored by the St. Marys Minor Hockey Association.
This year was no exception as there were a lot of close, hard-fought games in all seven divisions. There were a total of 42 games played over two days on Easter Weekend, and half of them likely could have gone either way. Seven games were decided by one goal, another 11 by a two-goal margin, there were also three ties, and one of the division finals was determined in a shootout.
Altogether, 26 teams competed in the popular Al Kennedy Memorial tourney at the PRC, with proceeds going to the SMMHA.
Team Marziali tops Oldtimers division
The first division final was played Friday afternoon. Team Marziali defeated Team Stewart 5-3 to claim the 50-and-over Ferris Division with a 2-0 record. Henry Groenestege emerged the scoring hero for Team Marziali, firing the winning goal and adding the insurance tally into an empty net in the final minute of play. Goalie Ross Rousom was a standout for Team Marziali, who got single goals from Rudy Smith, Kirk Reid and Reid Dundas, while defenceman Brad De Groote chipped in two assists. Kelly O’Leary scored twice for Team Stewart.
With the division crown settled, the two teams played a fun game Friday night, and Team Stewart won 2-1. However, coach Allan Stewart informed the Independent that the late winning goal shouldn’t have counted as he admitted that his team had seven skaters on the ice at the time. His father Ferris, a long-time coach, wouldn’t have been pleased!
Six finals on Saturday
Winners of the other six divisions were established on Saturday.
The Tsunami and Bounty Hunters both had 2-0 records in the McLennan Division, so they agreed to play their final round-robin game early Saturday afternoon for the championship.
Three second-period goals propelled Tsunami to a 4-2 victory after the teams were tied 1-1 following the opening 15 minutes. Shane Pfaff scored twice for the Tsunami, including the winner, while the singles came off the sticks of Jason Martin and Jeff Sass (empty net). Ben Douglas contributed two assists, and the Tsunami defensive corps played a strong game in front of goalie Tim Muir.
Cole Stewart and Luke Puris replied for the Bounty Hunters.
It was the same scenario with the Smoke and the LA Batts in the Mitchell Division. With both teams 2-0, they also made their final round-robin game Saturday afternoon the championship contest.
Matt Staffen gave LA Batts an early 1-0 lead, but the Smoke rebounded for a 4-1 victory. It was another hard-fought affair, with the two sides deadlocked 1-1 at the halfway mark. The Smoke finally sealed the deal with two empty-netters in the final minute of play.
Ryan Carroll scored two goals for the Smoke, including the winner set up by Bo Jackson. Chris Weiler added the second empty-netter. Greg Robson earned the net win.
In the Schiedel Division final, the Billy Bob’s team from Mitchell continued their success in the NBC tourney with another finals win. The Bob Binning team skated to a 5-2 victory over the Gunners, after jumping out to a 3-1 first-period lead. Jeff Walt scored twice for Billy Bob’s, including the winner.
Earlier in the day, Gunners defeated Billy Bob’s 5-3 in round-robin action.
96 Boys go 4-0
The 96 Boys completed a 4-0 weekend with a 5-3 win over the Canucks in the McPhail Division final.
Carson Brookshaw scored both the winning and insurance goals for the 96 Boys, who were the only team in the tournament to post four straight victories. Greg Swan also connected twice, while Braiden Weston had the single. Andy O’Connell was the winning goaltender.
Jake Watt, Adam Hyatt and Mason Mueller tallied for the Canucks, who trailed 2-1 going into the second period.
In the Skipper Division final, shootout goals by Chris Wilson and Chad Woodhouse lifted the Timbits to a 5-3 win over the 4th Liners. Tyler Kittmer picked up the net win.
The teams were tied 2-2 after the first period and 3-3 at the end of regulation time. It was the 4th Liners’ first loss of the weekend.
The Martin Division final was the last game of the tourney and the Hydra team defeated the Coyotes 6-1. Terry Annett had a goal and two assists and Matt Paton a goal and an assist to pace the offence for Hydra, who built a 4-0 first-period cushion. Jeremy Brock replied for the Coyotes, who went into the final with a 2-0 record.
Big comeback by Hydra
Just a few hours earlier, Hydra clinched a spot in the final with a come-from-behind 5-4 victory over the Tribe. Hydra trailed 4-2 in the second period, but rallied for their first win of the weekend as Paton fired the winning goal (shorthanded) with just 12 seconds remaining. It was Paton’s third goal of the contest and it snapped a 4-4 tie.
The Hydra team obviously carried that momentum into the Martin final against the Coyotes, who are often division champions.
NBC tourney notebook . . .
All divisions in the annual NBC tournament were again named after St. Marys minor hockey Life Members. Tourney convener Brandon Boyd and his volunteer crew do an excellent job each year keeping the tourney running smoothly and on time.
All proceeds raised go to the SMMHA.
–Convener Boyd was pleased with the 2019 edition of the Al Kennedy Memorial. He was particularly happy with the community support.
“There was a lot of community support in the End Zone room, especially on the Friday. It was a steady pace all day long,” Boyd said. “I’m anxious to get the numbers for Friday because I think it was one of the better years for attendance. It should really benefit minor hockey.
“It was a great weekend with 26 teams, and family and friends and grandparents coming to watch the games. It’s a minor hockey reunion of sorts, and everybody seems to have a lot of fun,” he added.
–The No-Body Contact tournament dates all the way back to 1985. Brian Dundas came up with the idea to hold a fundraiser for the Cement Midgets team, which was planning an overseas trip to Sweden that season to play a series of exhibition games. The SMMHA fundraiser has been going strong ever since.