The JR Panthers Fifth Annual Early Bird Tournament that ran from August 24-26 was deemed a success both on and off the ice as eight JR Panthers teams were crowned champions of their individual tournaments.
Hosted at the Saveology.com Iceplex, 40 teams competed for the championship and it was the JR Panthers that came out on top in the Squirt (A, AA), Peewee (A, AA), Bantam (A, AA), U16 A and U18 AA levels.
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The first Final of Sunday was actually the only game that did not see a single JR Panthers team in the Championship contest as Scorpions Red beat Scorpions Black 2-1 in a shootout for the U16 AA division. Scorpions Black had beat the JR Panthers 3-1 in the semis to make it to the finals. From there however it was a recurring theme as JR Panthers team after JR Panthers team came away with the final victory they seeked in their respective division.
The Peewee AA team (11:30am start) defeated the Scorpions 2-0 as Matthew Horowitz set up Connor Mylymok for both goals of the game. The tallies both came on the power play.
Then the Squirt A team (12:00pm start) doused the Flames by a 4-2 final as Jaden Brignoni scored the game winner and added the insurance goal in the third period for the win.
The Peewee A team (12:30pm start) followed up with a dominant 4-0 shutout victory over the Scorpions. Kevin Holman scored the game winner just 39 seconds in and Ben Cunneen pitched the shutout on the way to the championship.
In a tightly contested affair, the Bantam A team (1:00pm start) got a goal from Michael Braverman 5:47 into the second period that stood up as the winner as they defeated the Blackhawks 1-0.
It took a third period goal from Jason Alten, 2:44 in, for the Squirt AA (1:30pm start) to come out on top of the Golden Wolves 2-1 for their championship.
With a 2:30pm start, the Bantam AA team rolled on to a 5-1 victory over the Scorpions (Black). Garrett Schwartz (GW, Assist) and Justin Bofshever (2 Goals, Assist) led the way to victory.
The U18 AA team pulled away from the Scorpions with three goals in the first 1:40 of the second period as they rolled on to a 4-1 victory.
In the final game of the Early Bird Tournament, the U16A (3:45pm start) jumped out to a commanding lead as they scored four goals into the first and added what turned out to be the game winner with a goal from Zach Wanger in the second as they held on to a 6-4 victory.
The success of the play in tournaments (six of the teams were first seed heading into the final game) will help propel them into league play before hosting another tournament in November. The Thanksgiving Invitational runs from November 23-25 and features teams from around the country and world.