The annual holiday showdown known as the Dan Jilek Memorial Tournament features all four Ann Arbor teams battling for city supremacy. This year the Eagles came out on top for the first time ever as they bested the Irish of Gabriel Richard in the Championship game Friday night 5-4.
Thursday night action featured Skyline vs Huron and Pioneer vs FGR (Father Gabriel Richard). The winners of the two seed games would go on to play in the Friday championship game, and the losers would play a consolation game beforehand. Skyline beat Huron (9-2) in game one, and FGR beat Pioneer (4-2) in game two of the double-header.
In Skyline’s win over the lowly Drainage Ditch Rodents, the final score was 9-2, but the Eagles had a tough time in the first two periods as they looked as if just showing up was going to get them the win. Junior winger Noah Bradburn (assisted by Kotoba Nakamura & Shea O’Brien) got the Eagles on the board early in the first to make it 1-0 and it looked like it was going to be a mercy by the end of the second period, so the boys took their foot off the gas. A lackadaisical effort the rest of the period resulted in the Rats hanging around and getting scoring changes that goalie Tommy Letke was able to fight off. Finally, with just 37 seconds left in the period sophomore center Isaac Lippert (assisted by Bradburn & O’Brien) was able to tally another one for the Eagles and the period ended 2-0 in favor of the Columbia Blue.
Second period action was equally as dismal. Given the opportunity to hang around, the Rats finally put one of their chances in the back of the net when Matt Dubin scored to make the game much tighter than it should have been at 2-1. Senior CJ Bahr found paydirt as he cleaned up a little garbage around the net late in the period to get a two goal cushion back, and the period ended at 3-1 Eagles with the game very much in jeopardy.
The third period saw a revival after coach Jake Stripp had obviously given the boys an “inspired motivational talk” in the locker room during second intermission. The Eagles outscored the Black Plague Carriers 6-1 in the third as they played like they should have in the first two:
Sei Nakamura (assisted by Bradburn & Isaac Lippert) made it 3-1
Matt Bahr (assisted by Henry Hescheles) made it 4-1
Huron scored on a short handed breakaway to make it 4-2
Ryan Schmunk (assisted by Luke Lippert) made it 5-2
Jake McDevitt (assisted by Bradburn) scored his first career goal to make it 6-2
CJ Bahr (assisted by Zach Roberts & Matt Bahr) scored his second of the night to make it 7-2
Noah Bradburn (assisted by Hescheles) scored his second of the night to make it 8-2
Zach Roberts (assisted by Luke Lippert) scored on a nice tip to finish the scoring with 36 seconds left to make it 9-2
Friday’s championship tilt against FGR proved to be a much tougher battle as the Shamrock Collectors had won the last four Jilek titles. The Irish drew first blood about 4-1/2 minutes into the game, and it looked like it was going to be 5 -in-a-row. But junior winger Noah Bradburn (assisted by Shea O’Brien & Isaac Lippert) responded with 4:42 left in the period to tie it up 1-1. Then Skyline’s own Irishman, Shea O’Brien (assisted by Bradburn ) got a goal of his own about 2 minutes later and put the Eagles up 2-1 heading into the second.
Second period action looked like the Eagles were going to walk away with it as Luke Lippert (unassisted) went coast to coast to put the Eagles up 3-1, and then had a chance to add to their lead with a two man advantage as FGR took consecutive penalties. But a bad penalty by Skyline resulting in a 5 minute major gave the Irish a much needed boost. FGR made the Eagles pay for their mistake as they scored a quick short-handed goal off the ensuing defensive end faceoff, and breathed new life into a team that had all but checked out up to that point; the Irish had pulled to within a goal at 3-2. Skyline took another penalty, and this time it was FGR that had the two-man advantage for nearly 2 minutes. Stellar goaltending by Tommy Letke kept the puck out of the net as the Irish pressed hard for the tying goal. However, just 4 seconds after killing off the penalties, FGR did indeed find the back of the net and the Eagles found themselves in a tie game 3-3. 5 minutes later, with only 33 seconds left in the period, senior captain Ryan VanDiepen scored on a scramble around the net and got the Eagles’ lead back 4-3 heading into the final frame.
The third period saw both teams playing hard and getting quality scoring chances at both ends. About 6 minutes into the period, sophomore center Isaac Lippert (sauced by Noah Bradburn) got the much-needed 2 goal cushion back to make it 5-3 with 11:39 still left in the game. The Irish battled hard and were finally rewarded for their efforts when they scored with 7:20 left to bring them within striking distance 5-4 with plenty of time left. FGR pulled their goalie with about a minute left in the game for the extra attacker to try to tie things up, but the Eagle D and Tommy Letke held on for the win as both time and the luck of the Irish ran out.