Several teams from west Michigan competed in the Belle Tire Back to School Classic from Sept. 23-25 at rinks in the Dearborn and Taylor areas. There were nine separate divisions represented in the tourney. The Traverse City North Stars 97 Bantam AA squad fell to Plymouth by a score of 0-5 on Friday night. They played in the silver division. Grand Rapids played Belle Tire Taylor to a 1-1 tie in the same age division.
In other Friday night action, the 97 Bantam AA gold division games included a 2-2 tie between the Michigan Nationals and Belle Tire. Birmingham and Traverse City played to a scoreless tie the same evening. The Bantam 98 Michigan Nationals team lost 1-2 to Bay County. Traverse City also fielded a Pee Wee 00 A team in the tournament, who played to a 3-3 tie with the Lakeland Hawks. TC’s 99 Pee Wee AA team was also at the tourney, and won by a score of 5-2 against Novi.
The Michigan Nationals Pee Wee 99 AAs, who were 6-0 coming into the Belle Tire tournament, won their first match-up on Friday night against Victory Honda’s 2000 AAA team, 3-2, to extend their win streak to seven games. They followed this up with their eighth straight win on Saturday morning against Trenton, who they beat 4-2, and their ninth win that afternoon against Port Huron, 7-2. This gave them a berth into the Sunday semifinals.
Also on Saturday, Kensington Valley and Traverse City played to a 3-3 tie at the Pee Wee 00 AA level. Traverse City followed that game up with a 6-0 win over Grosse Pointe in the afternoon. At the Bantam A 98 level, the Michigan Nationals lost 3-5 to Compuware and tied Canton 2-2. TC’s Bantam 97 AA silver team beat Belle Tire Taylor 4-3, and lost to Grand Rapids 1-0. The 97 AA Bantam gold team division saw the Michigan Nationals beating Geneva 2-0, TC beating Port Huron 5-2, TC beating Troy 9-1, and the Michigan Nationals beating Birmingham 3-0. Traverse City’s Pee Wee 99 AA team lost to Macomb 2-1, and to Suburban, 6-3. The 98 Bantam A team from the Michigan Nationals club lost 3-5 to Compuware, and tied Canton 2-2.
The teams with the best records advanced to the finals on Sunday. Other teams played consolation games. There were two tiers of finals for the larger divisions. The top four teams played in the Gold Elite semifinals and the fifth through eighth teams played in the Gold Major semifinals. The Michigan Nationals Bantam AA 97 gold team lost 5-1 in the Gold Major semifinal, and Oakland beat TC 4-3 in the Elite semifinal of the same age division. TC’s 00 team won their consolation game against Ajax 2-1 on Sunday. Traverse City’s 99 AA team beat Farmington 5-1 in their consolation game on Sunday.
The Michigan Nationals 99 Pee Wee AA team won their Sunday morning semifinal against the Geneva Cyclones by a score of 6-1. They advanced to the Elite finals Sunday afternoon and lost to the Chicago Bruins 3-0 to finish the tournament with a second place trophy out of 20 teams in their division. They are 10-1 on the season so far. One west Michigan team at the tourney took home a first place trophy — Grand Rapids — in the 97 Silver age group, by beating Plymouth 2-0 in the final. For a complete list of first place finishers, surf to: http://www.belletirehockeyclub.com/backtoschoolclassic.html.