Several hundred players and coaches from 13 hockey teams around the Garden State converged at three different rinks to kick off opening weekend of the Fourth Annual Jersey Shore/MikeyStrong Youth Hockey Tournament in New Jersey.
Team United, the New Jersey Raiders, Team Militia and the Jersey Sting were crowned PeeWee AAA, PeeWee AA, Squirt AA and Mite A tournament champions, respectively, at the Ice Arena in Howell on Sunday at the conclusion of the state-wide, three-day event which also held games at the Armory in Red Bank and the Barnabas Hockey House in Newark.
Originally created as a benefit tournament to help New Jersey residents recover from Superstorm Sandy five years ago, the prestigious event sponsored by the New Jersey Devils and XHockey has shifted its focus to Mike Nichols, a former player in the Raiders youth hockey organization who suffered a debilitating neck injury when he fractured his C-5 vertebrae in a high school ice hockey game at Skylands Ice World in Stockholm on Jan. 4, 2014.
“Having Mikey attend the opening game of the tournament was very special,” New Jersey Raiders Team Owner and Tournament Director Oktay Armagan said. “He spoke to both teams and gave them a great message: ‘You never know when it will be your last game so go out and play your best every game.‘”
“The tournament last weekend was a success,” Armagan said. “All the championship games were extremely competitive and simply great hockey games. I cannot thank our amazing sponsors, Bryce Salvador, the New Jersey Devils, HockeyClan, Ford/Lincoln George Wall, Herbert Ellis Law Center, Walker family, Modernista Tile, Orthocenter, Breakaway Hockey and Janine Brady with Keller Williams, enough for their support and giveaways to every player. Thank you to all parents, players and coaches for participating and contributing.”
The tournament continues this weekend with Bantam A, Bantam AA, 16A, 16AA, 16AAA, 18AA and Girls tournament titles up for grabs. The finals are set for Sunday, June 18th at the Barnabas Hockey House, the Devils’ official practice facility adjacent to Prudential Center in Newark.
Here’s a recap from opening weekend’s festivities:
Raiders Defeat Hitmen, 5-4, to Capture PeeWee AA Tournament Title
Ryan Cook’s unassisted goal, with 4:55 remaining in the third period, gave the Raiders a lead they would not relinquish again en route to victory at Howell Ice Arena.
Louis Mancuso, Ritter Loomis, J.P. Saddy and Tommy Montellino also scored for the Raiders
Team United Defeated Team Protec, 3-2 (SHO), to Seize PeeWee AAA Tournament Title
All tied at the end of regulation, Patrick Walsh and Evan Xie each connected in a shootout as Team United edged Team Protec at the Ice Arena in Howell.
Zachary Alvin gave Team Protec a 1-0 lead but Colin Watson scored to tie it for Team Protec as both teams skated into the first intermission tied 1-1. Elian Estulin put Team Protec back in front 8:03 into the third period, but Marco Simcik scored for Team United 2:20 later to tie the game and force the shootout.
Team Militia Tops NJ Raiders, 6-3, to Capture Squirt AA Tournament Title
Dylan Lee and Kyle Katz each scored twice while Brendan Allan turned in a solid game in between the pipes as Team Militia doubled up the New Jersey Raiders at Howell Ice Arena.
Emilio Badoya and Fabian Vince also found the back of the net for Team Militia, which scored three times in the second period to take a 5-2 lead. Alex Mimaud accounted for all three goals for the Raiders.
Jersey Sting Defeat NJ Raiders, 7-6, to Take Home Mite A Tournament Title
Main Image: Mike Nichols with the New Jersey Raiders and Team Militia at the Armory in Red Bank to kick off the fourth annual Jersey Shore/MikeyStrong Youth Hockey Tournament. (Chris Doumas/HockeyClan)