With only a limited number of exhibition games under their belts before the Bantam ‘AA’ B•Macs opened their tournament season in Thunder Bay last weekend, head coach Brad Fairnington admitted he was leery about how his team would do.
But after advancing all the way to the final of the Pizza Hut tourney (eventually losing 2-1 to the Norwest Stars of Thunder Bay), Fairnington got a good look at this year’s roster, which includes seven returning players and 10 rookies.
And he very much liked what he saw.
“I would say I was definitely happy with the way our young players played,” said Fairnington, whose team will host an eight-team tournament this weekend.
“It was a pretty good effort by our rookies, who played like vets and played a helluva weekend,” he added.
The B•Macs played well throughout the tournament, including Sunday’s the 2-1 loss to the Stars, holding the territorial advantage for most of the game.
Ian Lockman scored the B•Macs’ lone goal, and they almost had a second one when an apparent goal was disallowed because a player was ruled to have been in the crease.
“You have to give Norwest credit. They knew how to play with a lead, and they dumped the puck out [of their zone],” Fairnington noted.
The B•Macs had reached the final after a convincing 6-2 win over Neebing earlier in the day. Eric Mosbeck and A.J. Tucker led the way with two goals each while Jeff Friesen and Clayton Windego added singles.
They opened the tournament Thursday by playing to a 2-2 draw with Norwest. Robert Atatise and Bryce Witherspoon scored for the B•Macs while Tucker added a pair of assists.
They then cruised to wins over the Thunder Bay Beavers (4-1), Thunder Bay Hornets (3-1), and the Sioux Hawks (6-3).
Tucker, Joel Burghardt, Mosbeck, and Witherspoon scored in the win over the Beavers. Tucker then netted a pair against the Hornets while Kris Esselink added a goal and an assist.
Tucker kept up his strong play offensively with two goals in the win over the Hawks. Nathan Miller also added a pair in that one, with Lockman and Jordan Wilson rounding out the scoring.
Fairnington also said he was pleased with his team’s defensive play, allowing just 11 goals in six games, and hopes they continue that at their tournament here beginning Friday.
The B•Macs open action Friday at 2:30 p.m. against North End (Thunder Bay), then host the Maroons (Thunder Bay) at 7 p.m. They wrap up pool play Saturday at 10:30 a.m. against Sioux Lookout.
Playoffs begin Saturday night with the consolation semi-finals. The championship game is slated Sunday at 1:30 p.m.