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Sabres winless as JRMT hosts

Four losses and one tie for bantam AAA team at John Reid Memorial Tournament

By: Jeff Hansen

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jan 22, 2014 06:00 am

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  • PUCK CHASER - Liam Peyton of the St. Albert Gregg Distributors Sabres skates across the crease for the puck against the Burnaby Winter Club Bruins at the John Reid Memorial Tournament on Saturday at Servus Credit Union Place. The Bruins won 2-1 in overtime.
    PUCK CHASER - Liam Peyton of the St. Albert Gregg Distributors Sabres skates across the crease for the puck against the Burnaby Winter Club Bruins at the John Reid Memorial Tournament on Saturday at Servus Credit Union Place. The Bruins won 2-1 in overtime.
    APRIL BARTLETT/St. Albert Gazette
  • IN CONTROL - Mike Rasmussen of the Okanagan Hockey Academy of Penticton plays the puck against Evan Haimila of the St. Albert Gregg Distributors Sabres in Friday's game at the John Reid Memorial Tournament at Servus Credit Union Place. OHA, the eventual tournament champion, won 3-0.
    IN CONTROL - Mike Rasmussen of the Okanagan Hockey Academy of Penticton plays the puck against Evan Haimila of the St. Albert Gregg Distributors Sabres in Friday's game at the John Reid Memorial Tournament at Servus Credit Union Place. OHA, the eventual tournament champion, won 3-0.

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The only winless team at the John Reid Memorial Tournament was the St. Albert Gregg Distributors Sabres.

The hosts for the 36th annual St. Albert bantam AAA tournament suffered four losses and pulled off one tie while outscored 18-9.

“It was a good experience but the outcomes brought us down as a team,” said captain Matt Kasowski after the Sabres wrapped up the JRMT in Sunday's 6-2 loss to the Calgary Bisons.

Historically the Sabres usually win at least one game in the highly competitive tournament. Last year they finished 2-3 in 2013 after going 1-4 in 2012, 2-3 in 2011 and 3-1-1 in 2010.

“The results were disappointing,” said assistant captain Aidan Steinke. “We didn't really finish out the way we wanted to but I thought we competed hard all through the tournament though.”

Two of the losses were one-goal margins, including Saturday’s 2-1 overtime setback to the Burnaby Winter Club Bruins.

“We were in a lot of close games, we just didn’t close them out,” Kasowski said. “We couldn’t finish what we started basically.”

The defining moment for the Sabres was Thursday’s 5-4 loss to the Winnipeg Monarchs (3-3) in the tournament opener.

The Sabres escaped the first period down 2-0 after letting in two shorthanded goals and in the middle period tallied twice in the last 2:50 minutes to even the count.

In the third the Sabres potted a pair in the opening 1:43 minutes, but Winnipeg replied with three in a row during a seven-minute span to regain the lead with 8:54 to play.

The Sabres outshot Winnipeg by a wide margin and spent most of the second on the power play, but finished the game with only two goals with the man advantage.

“It was a tough loss. We were up by two and we let in three goals and we couldn't get back basically,” said Kasowski, a 14-year-old defenceman who assisted on both goals in the second and made it 3-2 on the power play 25 seconds into the third for his only points at the JRMT.

The Sabres never recovered from the loss and in the Thursday night feature game they had to rally twice in the third to knot HC Komati Brno (2-2-1) of the Czech Republic 2-2.

“If we had won the Winnipeg game we would’ve beat the Czechs due to momentum,” Kasowski said.

Friday the Sabres closed out pool play with a 3-0 loss to the Okanagan Hockey Academy (6-0) of Penticton. OHA did all of its scoring in the third while outshooting the Sabres 39-11 overall.

“We didn't capitalize on our chances and they capitalized on their chances,” Kasowski said.

OHA went on to win Sunday’s final 6-3 over the Los Angeles Jr. Kings (3-3).

In the consolation playoff round Burnaby (3-2) made the most of its 20 shots to defeat the Sabres, who were credited with 32.

“It didn't end up the way we wanted it to but I thought we played pretty good. They’re one of the best teams in western Canada,” said Steinke, who tied it halfway through the second.

In a meaningless game the Bisons (2-3) stormed into a 4-0 lead in the first before Ryan Cooper and Steinke scored in the second to cut the deficit in half. The Bisons closed out the period with two markers. Shots on net were not recorded.

League play

The Sabres had no time for a pity party after the JRMT and resumed league play Tuesday against the Canadian Athletic Club at Bill Hunter Arena. The score was unavailable at press time.

“Everything is in the past now. We can’t change it so our focus has to be league now,” said Steinke, a 14-year-old centre who led the Sabres in goals at the JRMT with three.

The Sabres (14-9-4) trailed third-place CAC (17-8-2) by four points in the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League’s nitro north standings.

When asked how the Sabres would respond against the CAC, Kasowski replied: “I’m not sure. You will have to come see us play on Tuesday and see what happens,” said the Grade 9 Vimy Ridge Academy student.

The third-place Sabres also host the Maple Leafs (4-21-2) Thursday at 7 p.m. and the KC Squires (0-24-3) Sunday at 3:45 p.m. at Akinsdale Arena.

The Sabres are guaranteed a playoff berth in the best-of-three nitro semifinals and are battling the CAC and fourth-place Sherwood Park Flyers (14-10-3) for the second seed in the standings behind the reigning champion SSAC Southgate Lions (22-4-1).

The last league game for the Sabres, 6-5 loss to the SSAC on Jan. 13 in St. Albert, ended a nine-game undefeated streak.

The Sabres’ last win was 8-2 against the Leduc Oil Kings (7-18-2) at home Jan. 12 for their seventh victory in nine games.

“We’re on a winless streak now so obviously we’re not happy about that,” said Steinke, a Grade 9 Lorne Akins student who finished tied for second on the Sabres in points at the JRMT with Kasowski and Evan Haimila at three apiece.

Cooper, the Sabres’ recipient of the John Reid Memorial Award for heart and hustle, led the team in scoring with four points.

ICE CHIPS: Jordan Bellerive of the North Shore Winter Club (5-1) was honoured as the tournament’s MVP and top forward.

Nolan Kneen of North Shore was selected as the top defenceman and Jordan Hollett of OHA was the top netminder.

Stelio Mattheos of Winnipeg led all JRMT scorers with 19 points in six games and Brett Stapley of North Shore scored a tournament-high 12 goals in six games.

Visit www.johnreidmemorial.com for tournament stats.


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