As the 2014 ’03 Rochester Invitational field took shape over the course of last spring and summer, it was pretty clear that the Brantford 99ers would be considered one of the tournament favorites. Head coach Mike Storoschuk’s squad was coming off a 2013-2014 season where they went 48-18-9 and ranked #13 in Ontario 03 AAA according to MyHockeyRankings.com, that sentiment played out once the games began at the Bill Gray’s Regional Iceplex in Rochester (NY) on Friday morning, September 26th.
The 99ers started off pool play strong with a 6-1 Friday morning versus the Mercer Chiefs of the AYHL. Six different players scored a goal in the victory. In the afternoon contest they took on the tournament host team, the Rochester Jr. Americans. At exactly the halfway point of the 2nd period Maddox Callens broke a scoreless tie and Landon McCallum followed with a goal 22 seconds later and a second 18 seconds later for a 3-0 lead. Reid Lazou made it 4-0 late in the period. The 99ers withstood a frantic rally as the Americans cut the lead to 4-3 in the 3rd, but a Cole Hipkin goal with 4:03 left proved to be the game winner in an exciting 5-4 victory as the 99ers capped a 2-0 day.
Reid Lazou’s goal with 6:45 left in the 3rd period in Saturday morning’s contest earned a 4-4 tie with the Minuteman Flames (Elite) of the Eastern Hockey Federation. This was good enough to take the #1 seed in their pool and place Brantford in the Gold Bracket quarterfinals ahead of Lambton Jr. Sting and Hamilton Huskies. All three teams played Mercer, Rochester and the Flames in pool play with Brantford taking the pool with five total points.
In bracket play they drew the always competitive Quinte Red Devils Saturday afternoon at 4 PM. A tough 3-1 victory earned a trip to the early morning Sunday semifinals against the Nepean Raiders. Their Ottawa-area opponent was another team pegged as an early favorite in the field. Nepean went 3-0 in pool play while allowing just one goal and earned their third shutout in four games with a 3-0 win over the Guelph Gryphons in their Saturday evening quarterfinal match-up. On Sunday morning the tables were turned as it was the 99ers who delivered the shutout with a 2-0 win to move on to the championship contest. 2nd period goals by Mathew Woods and Adam Leatherland was all the scoring needed for the win.
In the finals was a familiar foe. The Rochester Jr. Americans made their way to the final game and a rematch of Friday’s exciting pool play game. In a classic championship contest, Brantford would escape New York with the trophy and a 2-1 victory, holding off a flurry of American scoring chances in the final minutes of the 3rd period. Again the 99ers struck quickly in the 2nd period as Joel Storoschuk (5:14) and Spencer Cockerill (4:51) scored 23 seconds apart. Those two second period goals stood up and Brantford was the 2014 ’03 Rochester Invitational Gold (overall) Bracket champions!
“The tournament was well organized and well run,” coach Storoschuk said in a post-tournament email. “Parents, siblings, players and coaches had a great time shopping, eating, hanging out and of course playing some HOCKEY.”
Congrats to coach Storoschuk, manager Jim Cochrane and the entire ’03 AAA Brantford 99ers for their championship efforts and the entire 2003 Rochester Invitational team wishes them the best of luck with the rest of their season!