A Buffalo Junior Sabres squad made up of players from the Junior A and 18-Under hockey levels went undefeated and claimed the College Open Division Championship at the 2011 Chowder Cup Tournament in suburban Boston. This highly acclaimed tournament attracts teams each year from all over the United States and Canada.
The Jr. Sabres opened the tournament on Thursday, July 21with a 3-0 shutout victory over Toronto-based Arsenal Hockey. Shane Bennett scored twice for the Jr. Sabres while Nick Berst added his own tally. Tyler Fallica earned the shutout in the Buffalo net.
The Jr. Sabres’ next game the following day was essentially no contest, as the boys in blue and gold rolled over an undermanned North Coast Hockey Development squad from the Cleveland-Akron area, 15-0. Kennedy Monaco scored a hat trick while Bennett, Ryan Schmelzer, Connor Boyd and Nick Smith scored two goals apiece. Chris Luker, Dylan Howatt, Bryan Komasara and Nolan Sheeran scored single goals for Buffalo while goalie Parker Gahagen earned the shutout win.
Buffalo’s momentum carried into Saturday, July 23. Bennett’s 4-goal performance led the Jr. Sabres in an 8-2 win over one of the local teams, the Mass Attack. Berst, Monaco, Max Mikowski and Sean Patry completed Buffalo’s goal scoring. Tyler Fallica started in the net for Buffalo and earned his second win of the tournament.
On Sunday, July 24 the playoff round began, played as a series of one-period mini-games. Buffalo started its playoff run with a 2-0 win over the Assabet Valley Patriots. Howatt and Sheeran scored Buffalo’s two goals. Next up was another Boston-area team, the New England Nordiques. Boyd opened the scoring about 2 minutes into the game to give Buffalo a 1-0 lead but the Nordiques evened the score just under 6 minutes later. Howatt’s goal restored Buffalo’s lead while Bennett’s tally secured a 3-1 victory.
Next up on this busy Sunday was a match against the Quebec Prospects, which the Jr. Sabres won, 4-1. Buffalo took the lead about 8 ½ minutes into the contest on Komasara’s goal. Smith, Patry and Berst added goals, while Quebec’s Jordan Boucher-Gould scored a late goal that did nothing more than foil Parker Gahagen’s shutout bid.
Buffalo then faced the Connecticut Yankees for the title, in a game that was low in scoring and high in rough play. Buffalo opened the scoring with Kollin Schultz’s goal 9:45 into the game. Mikowski’s power play goal built Buffalo’s lead but the Yankees threatened to tie the game late with its own power play tally. Buffalo held on, though, to win the game and the Chowder Cup.
The players will soon report to their respective teams. The Buffalo Jr. Sabres’ Junior A squad will open its Ontario Junior Hockey League season on Saturday, September 10 at home against Newmarket.