As a special feature of the 2001 Marlies News section, the editorial team decided to share the “blog” that was written “real-time” during the recent Nike Bauer Tournament in Chicago. The boys played hard, had fun, and came away from the tournament with a great experience and an even greater appreciation of their teammates.
Here is the tournament blog – enjoy!
Day 1 – Exhibition Game – Toronto Marlies vs. Chicago Mission:
An early departure from Canlan, and restful bus trip, had the team arrive in Chicago at 1:00 pm. The 2001 Marlies had a few hours at the hotel to relax and prepare for Nike Bauer 2012 World Invite Exhibition Opener.
Should they feel privileged? Well, the game before us had the Czech Republic playing the team from Latvia - imagine their bus ride!!
Bauer and the local organizers clearly put a significant effort in to making the tournament special. A huge marquee tent lined with exhibitors (100+ feet long) greeted the players as they tunneled their way to the entrance of the rink.
424 Teams are here - totaling 9,000 players - from CDN, US, Russia, Czech, Latvia & Slovakia.
As the two Zambonis prepare the ice, the word going round the stands is that the famed Blackhawks Singer will be performing the National Anthem. How's that for a great hockey memory!
Music's pounding, the puck is dropped - game on!
A very fast start to the game. Stands are packed which makes for a great atmosphere. Unlucky penalty for the team, but, an important stop to what was a sure breakaway. Chicago caught a break when a pass out front got redirected for the game’s first goal.
We've certainly carried the play but notwithstanding have yet to find the back of the net. End of the period and we're down by 1 goal.
Fast start for our blue line: a great pass across the middle creating a two on one. Shot on net creating a rebound. Tap in. 1-1.
2nd period and the game is still tied. These are two strong, evenly matched teams. It is exciting to watch.
3rd period sees the Marlies go pass, pass, pass – goooooal! 2-1 Marlies!
5 min left and the Mission are flying - a most spectacular glove save by the Marlies netminder kept it from being tied. Unfortunately short- handed with 4 minutes on the clock and Mission tied it up. Great game. The tourney hasn't even started!
Day 2 – Tournament Game 1:
There are two teams known to be competitive in Chicago. Last night we played one of them - the Mission. This morning it's the other - the Fury.
No anthem singing today but a nice atmosphere all the same. The rink is very bright - which a Goalie would immediately notice and appreciate. The stands are all on one side going up 12 rows. Good viewing.
The game started fast and furiously (this is a smaller team than we normally meet) and after one minute the Marlies are ahead 1-0. Marlies score again at the 12 minute mark. Our guys are looking in control of things. First period ends with the Marlies up 5-0.
Second period and the boys are doing a great job of staying disciplined when it comes to puck control and positional play. Halfway through the second period, Marlies are in the box. Fury’s best player shoots, rebound goes in 5-1.
Game ends with a score 7-1 for the Marlies
Tournament Game 2:
This game has the Marlies up against the Toledo Cherokee.
First shift and we take our first penalty. Strong D and puck control allowed us to kill it off.
Toledo is a very good skating team with more size than our previous competitor. Second Marlie penalty. Not sure everyone agrees with the call but a Marlie forward is in the box. Great combination of fore-check and D standing tall on the blue line and the penalty is over.
Timing is everything - the opposing team is now in the box. An awesome rush from a Marlie D and the most patient of passes to a forward and then quick shot to beat their Goalie glove side.
Two shifts later and we're back at it. A rocket shot from the D - back of the net. 2-0 Marlies.
Lot of pressure being applied by the boys! They're all sharp and contributing to some great "we" hockey!
Second period is underway. Second shift and from down low we feed the puck across the slot, goalie stops it, but another of our forwards is in position and hammers in the rebound.
Third period and the puck is in their end. Another Marlie penalty. It is running time now.
Game ends with Marlies up 8-0.
Day 3 – Tournament Game 3:
The boys got up early for this game against Kanas City aka Russell Stovers. All the same - great warm up showing yet again the resilience of 11yr olds...if not their parents.
Game on – Russell Stoves doesn't look ready to handle a very strong Marlie forechecking attack. The boys look strong and really want the puck. Forechecking hard, and relentless backing... 1-1 after one.
In the second, more of the same, but now Russell Stover is starting to get tired. The boys keep pressing and pressing... 3-1, and on to the third.
The opposition must be wondering, what exacty did these Marlies eat for breakfast... They are not slowing down. Attcking each and every puck and battling harder and harder as the game goes on resoulting in an 8 goal thrid period.
Score is 11-1 with run time.
Tournament Game 4:
The boys are on the ice for the warm up after a quiet afternoon. Milwaukee is a team that might be wondering what to expect since they lost 6-1 to Toledo yesterday.
Game on – for the first two minutes the Marlies are hounding the Milwaukee net. The opposition must be wondering if they will ever breach our defense. The first period end with the Marlies up over Milwaukee 5-0.
The second starts and very early on Milwaukee is facing a delayed penalty – Marlies go upstairs for 6. Only seconds later another goal scored with a bounce off of their goalies back leg.
Marlies take a couple of penalties creating a 5 on 3 for Milwaukee. With smart defense we manage to kill off the penalties.
The third period starts with 2 quick penalties for the Marlies. 5 on 3 for Milwaukee. Puck is our end. Our Goalies made 2 great saves! The third shot is luckier as it deflects off of a shin pad to give Milwaukee their first goal. Score is 7-1 with run time.
That's the game: 12-1. Completely one sided but,... we didn't pick the draw.
Day 4 – Tournament Game 5:
It’s Sunday morning, and we have packed up and checked out of the hotel. This is the final day and the Marlies are about to face Colorado in the quarter finals.
The game format is changed for the quarters and semis. The games are 2 periods of 15 minutes each. The team needs to jump on the game right from the drop of the puck.
The Marlies are dominating the early play. Two line changes and we're still in Colorado’s end. A smooth D to D pass and hard shot from the point has the Marlies up 1-0. Some good play down low and a feed to the front, back hand, goal! A power play then see the Marlies go up 3-0 to end the first period.
Second Period sees the Marlies continue the pressure. Give Colorado credit, they have fight. The game ends 6-0. The Marlies are headed off to the semi-finals to face the Markham Waxers.
Tournament Game 6:
Its mid-day in Chicago, and the 2 Canadian teams are facing each other in the semi’s. Early in the game and the Marlies are strong in the Waxers end. Good rushes both ways and good saves. Very tight neither team is making mistakes. It is too bad they have the automatic offside rule here - it kills the rhythm of the play.
Marlies take a holding penalty and the Waxers score the first goal of the game using the man advantage.
The Marlies come back quickly with a slap shot from the D. The game is tied 1-1.
With the second period underway, our D fakes the shot - passes to winger – pass to forward - bar down! 2-1 Marlies.
Another Markham penalty. Great rush and shot by our D. We're creating great pressure. Refs do an "even it up call" - penalty to Marlies.
The D are anchoring very well and winning against the Waxer dump and chase tactic. Great flurry and we nearly get our third - the puck is really bouncing. Lots of puck movement and shots from the point. Marlies are opening up the play which makes the ice feel big.
Game over. 2-1 Marlies.
On to the finals!!!
Tournament Game 7:
Cliché of Clichés, but this is truly the one we've been waiting for - Marlies vs. Chicago Mission.
Quick start by both teams. Mission is down low and has the first real shot on net. One face off later and Mission is ahead by one. This is followed by a quick, spot on pass up the middle to a Marlie forward, all alone – upstairs – tie game!
What an exciting first period! The Marlies had more of the play but need to bury the puck when the chances come up.
The 2nd saw lots of chances for the Marlies – the Goalies on both ends are playing great! A misconduct penalty sees the Marlies head to the box. Mission set up and score their second goal. Their fans are loud with appreciation. Marlies call time out with 1:33 to play. Lots of pressure by the Marlies, but the boys can’t answer back. Final score 2-1 Chicago.
At the end of the game, the Marlies showed their opponent respect, shaking hands and acknowledging their tournament win.
A strong showing for the Marlies. Not the way we wanted it to end, but a great effort by all.