The competition was tough, but the Mission Bantam A1 Stars hung in there with top talent at the annual Dallas Saunders Memorial Tournament in Abbotsford from Feb. 11 to 13.
The event, which recognizes the on-ice passing of 15-year-old Abbotsford Minor Hockey Association product Dallas Saunders at the age of 15 in 1996, saw 12 teams battle it out for bragging rights.
The Stars competed in Group C at the event, and were placed in a round robin pool against the North Vancouver Storm, Kamloops Blazers and the host Abbotsford Hawks.
Mission opened on Saturday afternoon against the Storm at the Abbotsford Recreation Centre, and were trailing 4-1 at one point in the second period but battled back to make it 4-3 with just over five minutes left in the game. The Stars’ late push ended, as North Vancouver scored an insurance and then an empty netter to defeat Mission 6-3.
The Stars then took on the Blazers at ARC on Saturday evening, and pushed the eventual tournament champions to their limit. Mission fell 8-5 to Kamloops, but the five goals were the most scored against the Blazers all tournament long.
The round robin concluded Sunday, as the Stars battled the Hawks at MSA Arena. Abbotsford built up a 4-1 lead after two, en route to a 6-3 win. Mission’s Kevin Lawrence earned most valuable player honours in the game.
Mission then battled the Vancouver Thunderbirds on Monday in the 11th place game. The teams tied 4-4, and decided to call it a tournament. Stars defenceman Evan Riesen was named Mission’s most valuable player in the tournament.