The Puck of the Irish Tournament is an annual tradition that’s spanned nearly three decades to date, and generations of hockey players. Current and former coaches and players describe it as a favorite weekend of the youth hockey season and a perfect way to wrap up the long, cold, hectic winter of hockey. Last weekend, the 26th Annual Puck of the Irish Tournament was held in Bay City.
The 14U State Savings Bank teams saved their best performance for last in the final weekend of their season. After dominating opponents for most of the weekend, they survived a pair of tough tests to wrap up the 14U Puck of the Irish Championship for a second consecutive year.
This team was much different than the experienced powerhouse that blew through Bay City last year. With only one second- year player, and one of the youngest 14U rosters around, SSB showed steady improvement all season and things peaked at the Puck of the Irish. SSB destroyed their early group round games, outscoring teams 23-1 in their first three games.
Their fourth game of the weekend finally provided a challenge. That’s when host team Bay County Blizzard pushed them to the limits in a 2-2 tie. State Savings Bank earned the number-one seed in the semifinals, where they shut down Grand Valley 4-0 in goalie Logan Lusk’s second shutout of the third shutout of the weekend.
The squad reached the championship in a rematch of the previous night’s tie game, as the Blizzard looked to win in front of their home crowd while State Savings Bank looked to take another title north of the bridge.
Joe Noble sniped one home on a faceoff win by Ollie Sevarns to make it 1-0 SSB. After the Blizzard responded with back-to-back goals, Noble did it again to tie things up 2-2. The score remained tied until late in the contest when Levi Vruggink netted the game winning goal. State Savings Bank clinched the 14U Puck of the Irish Championship, winning 3-2, and securing their gold at the end of the rainbow.
The 14U State Savings Bank team celebrates after winning the PotI tournament.