Rats take control for Nationals with a dominate win vs. Kings.
Rats at least put themselves a bit in the conversation with a 4 goal win over SSK, which was preceded by a 4 goal loss to SSK, and succeeded by a 2 goal loss to Cyclones, so not many certainties. I think SSK is more talented, but they give up a lot of goals. Rats is a new team so has more room for improvement over the course of the season. Still a long time before the Mass team for U14 Nationals will be decided in March 2019, and Wizards or BA might put themselves in the picture. Mass feels a bit like JV compared to the 04 teams nationally.
12 out of the top 14 2004 teams nationally were in action this past weekend at the Motown and Notre Dame tournaments. Lots of close games, and really not that much separation among the top teams.
MFR did well at ND, going 4-1. MRF seems to be doing better than the beginning of the season, but is not quite where it has been traditionally. Pittsburgh Penns Elite is going to be a tough out at Nationals. They have an academy similar to Seacoast and are improving based on how they are doing against top teams.
Seacoast was at Motown and struggled against both good and average competition. I'm still cautiously optimistic about Seacoast as a new team with the extra training they are getting and likely resulting improvement over the course of the season. Travel is a factor that is not often considered in how teams do at away tournaments.
Somebody keeps pumping the Buffalo Jr. Sabres on the DBoard. They are clearly a talented team, and have 2 DI commits (D - Colorado College; F - Penn State). They also played at Motown, but are still not ready to beat the top teams, losing 4-2 to Compuware, who beat LC 2-1 in OT in the Motown semis and lost 5-7 to Honeybaked in the finals. Those 3 Detroit teams will beat and lose to each other a bunch this year, as they already have. Interestingly, although Honeybaked won this tournament, they might be the third best team in MI behind Compuware and LC.
One team that has quietly worked its way into the Nationals conversation is the Syracuse Nationals (ironically). I look for them to move up in the rankings to become a legit at large contender. They are clearly the second best team in NY and might even potentially challenge the Buffalo Jr. Sabres. Syracuse tied and lost to MFR, and just lost in OT and won in OT against Southern Tier Admirals, the no. 2 ranked Canadian team. It's all about the match ups, but just for comparison's sake, Southern Tier Admirals beat Buffalo Jr. Sabres in a shootout, so they are all in the neighborhood of each other. This also points out just how close the top teams are, and how good the US 04 teams are, with the 15th ranked US team basically playing 2 games even with the no. 2 Canadian team.
Just for clarity, the sabres gave up empty net goals in very close games that could have gone either way against both LC and Compuware, losing both of those games by essentially 1 goal. I don't think you can rightfully say they are not ready to beat the top teams, that is really just an ill informed opinion which you are entitled to, but holds no credibility. The sabres hit three posts against LC and that made a difference in the outcome. LC was outplayed but got the win that day with some puck luck, that's hockey. Sabres have proven themselves for years and they will see those teams again.