Legion Bantams AA fall in state tournament semifinals

MARQUETTE – The Marquette American Legion Bantam AA hockey team finished its season 47-14-6 overall following the Michigan Amateur Hockey Association Bantam AA State Championship tournament in Traverse City.

Marquette opened preliminary play with a 10-0 win over the Alpena Wrecks. Scoring goals were Nick Bink (2), Alex Gadzinski, Hunter Doucette, Shane Ring, Spencer DenBeste, Branden Woodward, Ethan Jones, Joey Phillips and Gavin Schwalbach. Assists went to Colin Gaffney, DenBeste (4), Aydin Frost (2), Phillips (4), Ring, Spencer Samppala (2) and Bink. Luke McCarthy made nine saves.

In Game 2, Marquette topped Traverse City 4-1. DenBeste (2), Bink and Phillips had the Legion goals. Bink (2), Ring, Gaffney and Justin Hendrickson had assists. Dylan Sibilsky made three saves.

“It wasn’t very pretty, we got a little sloppy early on, but we were able to stay the course, get the job done and our PK is just dominant,” Legion coach Brian Nebel said.

The Legion defeated Allen Park in the final preliminary game 5-4. DenBeste, Bink, Phillips, Jones and Hendrickson had the goals. Gaffney, Ring, Phillips, Hendrickson, DenBeste (3) and Doucette (2) had assists. McCarthy made 16 saves,

“Good old fashioned barn burner,” Nebel said. “We got the jump early, but think our kids thought they could just cruise the rest of the way, but they Allen Park battled back hard and made a game of it.”

Marquette fell in the semifinals to the USA Eagles, 5-2. DenBeste had both goals while Doucette, Samppala and Gadzinski had assists. Sibilsky made 36 saves.

“Giving up two early really hurt us,” Nebel said. “They are a good, fast, hard working team and had us running around early. We made some adjustments, got back in the game and Dylan was great in net for us. We had our chances, but didn’t convert on the power play and we had the pressure on them the last two minutes with our goalie pulled. They got lucky on an icing that went in the empty net.

“While disappointed with the loss, it was a great year with these kids. They can hold their heads high. Their only loss in districts and states was to the eventual state champion USA Eagles.”