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Quite a showing for the north at DraftDay Hockey Showcase
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Dating back to their days in the division formerly known as Atoms, the northern Ontario crew of 2008 born hockey prospects have garnered much attention.

Safe to say that the awareness of their talent may have grown somewhat exponentially after the Northern Alliance posted a 5-0 record in recently capturing the Draftday Hockey 2008 Prospects Tournament in Toronto.

"I definitely had a sense that this was a special group - but when you go down south, you really don't know what you're going to get until you play a few games," noted head coach Trevor Blanchard.

Any potential question marks were quickly discarded as Team North downed both Alliance East and Prospects West by the identical score of 5-1, setting up a key match-up against the ETA (East Toronto Area).

Up 6-3 at one point, the group which includes a heavy influx of both local talent mixed with some top-enders from Sault Ste Marie held on for a 6-5 win, earning a berth in the semi-final.

"The kids just took it to another level," said Blanchard, who split his first two games between goaltenders Mateo Beites (Sudbury) and Cameron Ingram (SSM), one start apiece, but allowed the tandem to share the final three games, working half games through until tournament end.

The NOHA talent drew first blood against the GTA in the semis, only to see the Toronto powerhouse pull ahead 2-1 with time ticking down in the third. A late game-tying goal forced three on three overtime and a subsequent shootout.

With Beites turning aside all three shots that he faced, a tally from 2nd team all-star Luca Blonda of the Sault secured the win, advancing his team to the championship encounter where they disposed of the SCTA (South Central Toronto Area) 5-2 with a highly workmanlike performance.

Joining Beites (1st team all-star), Ingram (2nd team all-star) and Blonda ("a real good contributor on the back end") on the roster were Nik Rossetto (1st team all-star - "he was definitely leading the charge up front for us"), Jameson Fabbro ("had a really good weekend playing alongside Aiden Atkinson from the Soo"), Cole Wreggitt, Dylan Rousselle, team captain Ryker Young, Kohyn Eshkawkogan, Matthew Trottier, Mason Walker, James Elliott, Kaden Wicklander, Danny MacDonald, Ashton Pitawanakwat and Hudson Goulet.

Joining Blanchard on the bench were assistant coach Joel Whissell and trainer Jeff Panamick.

"The drive and determination of these kids was remarkable," added Blanchard, a four year OHLer who played his final year and a half with the hometown Sudbury Wolves before suiting up for three years with the Concordia University Stingers.

"Their ability to battle through adversity and stick to a plan was remarkable. This past weekend will go down as one of my most memorable tournaments of hockey in the 15 years of my coaching career."

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