FOXBORO – There are more than 3,100 miles between the west coast of Canada and the east coast of the United States, and Canada West Red made the most of every one of those miles they traveled to participate in the 2014 New England Pro-Am International Pre-Draft Showcase. What started with a 17-1 drubbing of the Junior Mariners on Friday morning ended with a team photo huddled around the tournament’s championship trophy after Red defeated EPS, 3-2, Sunday afternoon at the Foxboro Sports Center.
When the puck dropped on the 30:00, one period final, blows were traded back-and-forth as a special teams battle ensued. The EPS power play struck first as Pat Flynn put his team up 1-0 just 1:15 into the contest, less than an hour after their overtime, semifinal victory over the East Coast Militia. Red wasted no time responding, however, as Ryan Kuhn picked up the puck off the ensuing faceoff, carried in and beat EPS netminder Shane Starrett to even the game at 1-1 just seven seconds after Day’s tally.
It was then Red’s power play’s time to shine. With Billy Sweezey in the box for interference, Canada West was dominant with the man advantage, ringing a pair of posts before Wilson Vershay fed a wide-open Brandon Loven in the slot from behind the goal line. Loven beat Starrett to give Canada West a 2-1 lead at 6:54.
As Canada West had done to them, EPS responded as their power play came through once again. This time it was Tom Besinger burying one from just off the leftwing post.
The score was once again all tied up, 2-2, at 8:46. From their the offenses went quiet as Starrett and Tucker Murphy, who came on in relief of Canada West starter Snair Anderson at 15:21, kept their opponent in check.
Each team playing their fourth game of the day, tired legs prevailed and the physicality picked up. A center-ice shoving match led to Canada West’s third power play of the day. From the top of the leftwing circle, Kurt Gosselin ripped a laser past Starrett for a 3-2 Canada West lead a 27:48. EPS and Canada West were a combined 4-for-6 with the man advantage.
EPS kept the pressure on late with the goaltender pulled, but time ran out.
Following the game, the 2014 Pre-Draft All-Tournament Team was announced. Braeden Salverda and Carter Johnson of Canada West and Nolan Vesey of EPS were the three forwards selected, while Day and Canada West’s Billy Hartley were chosen as defensemen. Starrett was selected as the tournament’s top goaltender, while his Canada West counterpart Anderson was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.