The boys entered the tournament with an undefeated season to date, 16-0-2. This weekend would put the team to the limit as they competed against the strongest teams they have met this year. After a Team dinner, the kids hit the ice well past bed time, at 8:00 pm Friday night. Captain Sean Bradley called for the team to wear the yellow 3rd jersey to kick off the weekend.
After quick 2-0 start, the Blue Eagles tied the game back up at 2-2. The Thunderbirds kept the pressure coming and recaptured the lead with 7-3 by the middle of the 3rd period. As the clock struck 9:30 pm, the little legs were getting tired and the Blue Eagles soared back with 3 unanswered goals to get within 1 - a nail biting 7-6. But the mighty Thunderbirds held on for the win. The Team was led by the "Two Towers", Nico Sanabria and Matthew Lee tallying 2 and 1 goals respectively. Sanabria was given a well deserved "Player of the Game" Honor!
Early start for the T-birds on day two, as the bus pulled out at 7:00 am for a 8:00 am start against the Tiger Sharks. The Tigers dressed 29 players (last count at the hand shake), but were no match, losing the game 9-1. The best stats of the game were the shots on goals 60-3!! Defenseman Dylan Eliason captured POG for his smart heads up team play. The "Two Towers" netted 3 more goals - Sanabria with two and Lee with one.
The Team then headed for some site-sighting in beautiful Seoul. The team returned to the hotel for some well needed R&R, to prepare for another late start on Saturday night. Coach Bradley called for the yellow jerseys again Saturday night, "we wear yellow at our night games" stated a confident Coach Bradley. The puck dropped at 7:30 pm, against the Suwon Eagles - by far the toughest opponent of the weekend. The team was big and fast, but the Black, White and Yellow were ready for the challenge. The teams went back and forth for the first 2 periods, and was tied 2-2 at the end of two.
Coach Magnus Tedestedt pulled our three Swed forwards (Keden, Keden, and Tedestedt) aside at the intermission and issued them a challenge for the 3rd period in their mother tongue. It must have been a motivating Swedish tongue lashing as all three came out flying. The Thunderbirds went up 6-2, with four consecutive goals, although the ref called five consecutive penalties on the squad from Shanghai. The Eagles closed the game with two goals, with a 6-4 final.
Although a tough game, the boys dug deep in the third, playing their 9th period of hockey in 24 hrs. The Team was lead in game 3 by Captain Sean Bradley, POG recipient, demonstrating a clinic in forechecking and relentless back checking. This was consistent throughout his first three games of the weekend.
Game 4 had an odd start. Coach Eliason and Coach Bradley had to negotiate getting the 13 year olds from the host team the Blizzards off the ice. After a successful fight, the team took the ice with another strong start, scoring in the first minute of play. They never looked back completing the 4 game swept in Korea with a 6-1 win. POG for game 4 went to Viggo Keden, not only for this performance in finale, but his dominating presence in the offensive zone all weekend.
As we sat on the plane Sunday night returning to the friendly confines of Shanghai, we reflect on another memorable weekend. What lucky people we are to have such a wonderful bunch of friends and the chance to travel with our families for a hockey weekend in Korea. Some of the best memories will be:
* Our fantastic and wonderful hosts in Korea. We could not have met more friendly and warm people. We cannot thank Silvia and Peter Kim enough.
* The beer by the elevator on Saturday night with some of the parents
* The spring weather and blue skies in the beautiful city of Seoul
* The team family picture in front of the pagoda at the base of the Seoul Tower
* The kids singing to LMFAO on the bus ride home Saturday night - all very proud of themselves
* Alma Keden making up and singing a Thunderbird's song for the boys
* Erik and his sling-box
* The mothers and daughters in their beautiful yellow Lova Scarves, designed by Lovisa - hockey mom, coach's wife and very talented designer
Yes we left Korea 20-0-2, as we had hoped, and yes the boys played exceptionally well, but it seemed a very small part of a special weekend.
Thank you to all the players and families, Ben & the Matts Family, Cormick & Jeff, Tao & Scott, Viggo & Malte and the Keden Family, Declan & the McNally Family, Ryan & the Gallagher Family, Nico & Jill, Sean & Matt, Max & Magnus, and Dylan, Erik, Jordan, and Lindsey, and especially Meredith and my 2 boys Owen and Matthew. I feel very lucky and indebted to all of you.
Next stop for the Team HONG KONG, May 1-5th!! This the largest hockey tournament in Asia, with 45 teams, 13 in the U8 division.
We have three weeks to prepare, as the Select season comes to a close.