Local youth hockey team wins Silver Stick title

SS International Force 14U Select Blue-11 (Photo by  Jeremy Faux-Eye2Eye Portraits)

By Lori McComb

On Sunday, the Parkview Sports Medicine 14U Select Blue hockey team returned to Indiana victorious after winning the Tier 2 Bantam championship in the International Silver Stick Finals in Pelham Ontario.

The youth hockey tournament took place January 11-14. Over 100 teams participated from age groups from 8 and younger to 16 and younger. All participating teams were invited to the tournament by winning a regional tournament or by invitation from the International Silver Stick organization.

Fort Wayne has hosted a regional Silver Stick tournament annually since 2003. The PSM Force 14U Select Blue team qualified for the Pelham Finals Bantam AE tournament by winning the Fort Wayne Regional Bantam B division in December.

The sixteen team Bantam AE tournament kicked off with the PSM Force playing in three pool games. Single-elimination began on Friday afternoon when the PSM Force faced the Delaware Ducks in a quarterfinal game. The Force eliminated the Ducks with a 4-3 victory.

Saturday morning, the Force matched up against the Tri-Valley Devils of Northern California in the semifinals. The Force advanced by dominating the Devils with a 4-0 shutout victory. Goalie Isaac Morel earned a Silver Stick Shutout pin for his performance.

The match-up was set for a 10:15 am puck drop in the final game against the Saint Mary Rock Bantam AE team of St Mary, Ontario.

The Force got off to a slow start, trailing 2-0 until midway through the second period when a pass from Brody Burge led to a Nick Lehman goal. The Force later tied the score 2-2 with a goal from defenseman Mitchell Voglewede. Burge finished the game with two assists.

The Force gave up a goal in the third period to Saint Mary Rock, leaving them trailing 3-2 with less than one minute remaining. Voglewede skated down the ice and dished the puck to Parker Tracy who sent a one-timer to the back of a net with 53 seconds to go. Time expired with the score tied 3-3.

The game continued with a 4-on-4 sudden-death overtime. St Mary Rock committed a penalty to put the Force on power-play. Defenseman Carter Knoblauch passed the puck out of the zone to Voglewede who skated across the blue line and found the back of the net for a second time in this game. Game over, PSM Force win!

After passing out medals to both the St. Mary Rock finalists and the champion Force, Dave Kirkness, former International Silver Stick director, gathered the players, coaches, and their families in the locker room to deliver the tournament ending message. He shared his personal history with the Silver Stick organization and his emotional connection to the Fort Wayne Regional, and the late Mitzi Toepfer, who is an icon of Fort Wayne youth hockey and well known by many of our PSMForce coaches and players. He handed out Championship Silver Stick pins to each player, coach and manager and encouraged us to treasure these fleeting moments of greatness.

He informed the players that the PSMForce 14U Select Blue team name will be placed in Toronto’s Hockey Hall of Fame for 12 months beginning in May.

Fourteen championships were handed out in Pelham on Sunday, with four teams from the USA participated in the championship games. The PSMForce is the only team bringing home a championship to the USA. This is the first International Silver Stick Finals championship banner to hang in the local ice arena, Parkview/SportONE Icehouse.

This team is coached by Brian McComb, assisted by Jeffrey Whitmer and Matt Tracy. Head coach McComb recalls playing in Silver Sticks Regional tournaments for Fort Wayne Youth Hockey. He coached in three Silver Stick Fort Wayne Regional tournaments before achieving victory with this team. McComb and Tracy were high school hockey teammates, winning a state championship together in 1992. Both told their players they would trade four state championships for this team’s accomplishments.

The PSM Force statistical leaders for the six tournament games were Voglewede, four goals and three assists; Keegan McComb, two goals and three assists; Burge, two goals and three assists; and Nick Lehman, two goals and three assists.

Coach McComb attributes his team’s success to hard work and unselfish play. Every player contributed to this championship in ways that can’t be measured–by winning puck battles and playing smart, disciplined, physical hockey.

Also, McComb describes the PSMForce 14U Select team as fearless. The players and their families support the team tremendously by having confidence in every member of the team and coaching staff.

In honor of the team’s achievement, Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry issued a proclamation recognizing Wednesday as Fort Wayne Amateur Hockey Association Day in Fort Wayne. The team was honored at Wednesday evening’s high school hockey games and presented the championship banner to Fort Wayne Hockey League (FWHL) director Kaleigh Schrock and FWAHA president, Craig Scully.

The PSM Force team is a member of the Fort Wayne Amateur Hockey Association (FWAHA) and consists of players from the FWHL, a local youth hockey league directed by former Komets player Schrock.

The following players compose the PSMForce 14U team: Keegan McComb, Max Schilb, Parker Tracy, Christian Brown, John Speer, Carter Knoblauch, Douglas Rassi, Landyn Ringenberg, Carson Whitmer, Nick Lehman, Isaac Morel, Brody Burge, Desmond Fiedler, Parker Goins, and Mitchell Voglewede. Ashley Schilb volunteers as the team’s manager and Lori Knoblauch as team treasurer.