Six local players compete at annual Brick tournament
St. Albert well represented on Team Brick Alberta
By: By Nicole Starker
| Posted: Saturday, Jul 07, 2012 06:00 am
Many NHL players are on the golf course, but the season hasn’t stopped for six talented young St. Albert hockey players.
Michael Benning, Taige Harding, Ethan McKinley, Lleyton Moore, Carter Savoie and Austin Spiridakis, all products of St. Albert Minor Hockey, were all selected to compete on Team Brick Alberta at the annual Brick summer hockey tournament in Edmonton.
The 23rd annual Brick Invitational Super Novice Hockey Tournament is currently underway at West Edmonton Mall with 14 teams of nine- and 10-year-olds from across Canada and the U.S. competing in two divisions.
“It’s a journey to get here and just soak it all in,” said George Spiridakis, whose son Austin is a forward on the team.
While some view summer hockey as a recreational venture, making it to the Brick tournament is anything but easy.
For Scott Savoie’s son Carter, the process began well before the spring tryouts. “He’s been gearing up for it for the past year,” said Scott. “It’s been one of his goals to make the team.”
The left-winger worked and trained hard to make the final cut. “I was running and working on my skills,” Carter said.
Team Brick Alberta was finalized in late April and many players from St. Albert played spring hockey with the Capital Selects AAA team. This allowed them to stay in the game and practice their skills during the gap between the regular hockey season and the Team Brick Alberta selection.
It takes a great deal of focus and commitment from the young players. “There’s a lot of pressure on these kids trying to make this team,” said George Spiridakis.
But it all seems worth it to these youngsters who love playing hockey.
Spiridakis’ son Austin was excited when he found out that he had made the team. “I felt really happy because that was my goal for the year and it was really exciting.”
They are competing in a major tournament, but it almost seems as if the pressure off these youngsters now. Though they want to do well, Spiridakis and Savoie don’t talk about individual goals or personal bests. They talk about how fun it is to be playing for Alberta with their minor hockey friends and the rest of the team. “It’s fun and I can’t wait to see who wins,” said Savoie.
Spiridakis said the best part of the event so far has been to see “how good my teammates are and how successful we are.”
At press time, the defending champion Toronto Bulldogs were leading the division.
Team Brick Alberta last won the annual summer event in 2009 and will need to work hard to make their way to the top. With crowds lining the glass on the upper and lower levels of the mall, Team Brick Alberta faced the Bulldogs on Thursday morning and lost by a score of 2-1.
Is the competition on the ice as fierce as what young Spiridakis expected? “Yes it is. It’s a little more though, and there’s really good players out there and they’re really tough.”
“It’s exciting, good hockey – a good experience for him,” said dad Scott Savoie about son Carter’s time this week. “He’s having fun.”
It seems the young players who committed themselves and worked so hard to realize their ambition of playing for Team Brick Alberta have already achieved the important goal of having fun.
Over the years, the Brick tournament has turned out some distinguished alumni, including NHLers Dion Phaneuf of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and Brent Seabrook and Jonathan Toews, both with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Quarterfinal and semifinal action goes on Saturday, July 7 and the final will be played Sunday, July 8. All games are played at the rink in West Edmonton Mall.