Thunder Bay Wrecks

The Thunder Bay Wrecks Bantam AA hockey team wrapped up its 2015-16 season with a pair of games against the State Champion USA Eagles in Detroit last weekend.

In the opening period, the Wrecks and Eagles each skated at a furious pace with neither team able to light the lamp.

The Eagles forced a turnover and scored the first goal of the game off a 2 -on-1 on a wrist shot that elude Alpena goalie Cooper Black’s glove. The second period finished with the Eagles up 1-0 with each team having multiple opportunities.

The third period saw the Eagles score an early goal and one more with two minutes to play for the 3-0 win.

Cooper Black made 36 saves in the loss while Max Miller made 31 saves in the shutout win for the Eagles.

“Just an incredibly fast game to be a part of. The Eagles are so skilled that one error usually ends up with the puck in your net and that is what happened today,” Wrecks coach Chris Limback said.

Game two saw the Wrecks and Eagles deadlocked for the first 10 minutes until Parker Williams slammed one home from the side of the net for the Eagles lead.

The game stayed this way until some penalty trouble saw the Eagles capitalize on back-to-back power-play goals for the 3-0 lead.

“The two power-play goals really hurt our momentum and tilted the game heavily towards the Eagles,” Limback said.

Zach Robinson sandwiched an Alpena goal between two goals from the Eagles on the power play with Anthony Berg and Sam Gorno collecting assists to make the final score 5-1.

Black made 26 saves in the loss while Sam Evola made 22 saves in the win.

“As great a season as it was, it was great reminder to never be complacent because there are always better teams and players out there. We learned so much from these defeats,” Limback said.

The Wrecks wrapped up their most successful season at 42-11-7 on the year including an NIHL (League/Play-off) Championship, Little Caesars Howe 1 West League Championship, Little Caesars Howe 1 playoff runner-up and District 7 Champions.

Thunder Bay Wrecks

When the Thunder Bay Wrecks hockey program started years ago, the goal was to be able to be competitive with the best teams in the state.

After receiving their state playoff draw, the Wrecks would know the results by facing three teams that are ranked in the top six nationally with the Wrecks being 26th.

In the opener, the Wrecks faced off against the sixth-ranked Saginaw Spirit. The Spirit got on the board first with a power play goal with three minutes left in the first period. Neither team scored in the middle stanza with the Wrecks gaining more confidence as the game went on.

Owen Limback tied things up early in the final period with a blast from the point while on the power play. The game stayed tied at 1-1 through regulation. Saginaw capitalized on a turnover three minutes into overtime for the win.

Cooper Black made 27 saves in the loss while Saginaw’s goaltender made 19 in the victory.

The top-ranked USA Eagles were the next opponent for the Wrecks. Neither team scored in the opening period. The Eagles jumped on the board first at the five-minute mark of the second period and also three minutes later to make the score 2-0 heading to the final period.

Brett Nelson scored in tight on the power play early in the third with Kyle Hebner getting the assist on the goal. The Eagles capitalized on a Wrecks error to pad the lead to 3-1 with five minutes to play. The Wrecks pulled their goalie and Keegan Mathews slammed home a rebound to make the score 3-2. Kyle VanDusen and Hebner got the helpers on the goal. The Wrecks were unable to get many scoring chances in the final minute and lost 3-2.

Cooper Black made 39 saves in the loss while the Eagles’ netminder made 24 saves in the victory.

In the final game, the Wrecks faced off against the fourth-ranked Oakland Junior Grizzlies and with a win in regulation would advance to the semifinals the following day.

This game was a tight checking affair with neither team having many scoring chances. Keegan Mathews had the best chance early in the first with a wrist shot that sailed over the crossbar for the Wrecks and Oakland had some great chances, but Black negated all opportunities.

This game headed to overtime and eliminated any chance to advance to the semifinals. Oakland scored off of a 2-on-1 with a shot that beat Black just under the crossbar for the victory and a berth in the semifinals in the 1-0 win.

USA would eventually win states with a 5-1 victory over the Oakland Junior Grizzlies.

“What a great weekend of hockey for our boys,” Wrecks coach Chris Limback said. “We realized we could skate with the best in the state and showed teams what a quality team that we are. I have never been more proud of a group of boys and their accomplishments.”

The Wrecks are now 42-9-7 on the year and will the USA Eagles in a pair of exhibition games next week to wrap up their season.

Thunder Bay Wrecks

After coming off a dramatic overtime win in the championship game of the NIHL Playoff finals, the Thunder Bay Wrecks Bantam AA traveled to Detroit to participate in the elite 8 Little Caesars Playoff Championship last weekend.

In the opening game against the Novi Wildcats, the Wrecks were able to skate away with a thrilling 3-2 win. The Wrecks got on the board first when Kyle Hebner lit the lamp on an assist from Owen Limback. The Wildcats responded, adding a goal of their own to tie things up heading into the second period.

The middle period featured much of the same as Brett Nelson scored a power play goal with Kyle VanDusen and Hebner picking up the assists. The Wildcats tied things up again with two minutes left to play in the period. Both teams had scoring chances in a fast paced period, but were unable to score and looked as if the game was going to be headed to overtime until Nelson fired a shot on net and the puck stopped just outside the crease with VanDusen swooping in for the rebound and the scoring the game winning goal.

Cooper Black made 26 saves in the victory.

“It was just a great game to be apart of. There were two excellent teams competing for 45 minutes,” Wrecks coach Chris Limback said.

The Suburban Stars were the Wrecks’ next opponent in semifinal action. Nelson led the way offensively with four goals. This game was tied after one period. Keegan Mathews scored first on a wrap-around goal with Hebner getting the assist. The second period featured seven goals scored between the two teams, including a hat trick by Nelson. VanDusen and Limback collected the only assists. Nelson scored his fourth goal of the game on a power play with an assist to Limback in the 6-3 win.

“Nelson had the hot hand today and he could have easily had two more goals. He was dangerous each time he touched the puck,” Limback said

Black would stopped 24 shots in the win.

The Wrecks advanced to the championship game against the Wyandotte Warriors the following day. This game was a close, hard hitting affair with neither team having much room on the ice. VanDusen fired a shot that hit the crossbar on a power play for the Wrecks best scoring chance. The Warriors also put together some quality scoring chances in tight, but neither team was able to find the back of the net in regulation.

Overtime started out four on four and then after each session, both teams lost a skater until a one on one sudden death. The game ended at two skaters apiece and the Warriors capitalized on a two on one advantage for the victory.

“I thought the Warriors were the better team today, but we found a way to hang in there and give ourselves a chance in overtime. Personally, I have never been in a game determined this way before so that was interesting and I was curious to see what one on one would have looked like. Nonetheless, I am very proud of what our boys accomplished this weekend against all teams from the Detroit area.” Limback said

The Wrecks are now 42-6-7 on the year and will participate in the State Finals in Allen Park.