Today was Day 1 of the NAHL Showcase. There was a lot of good hockey played. Most eyes, however, were probably focused on the two NTDP teams getting their seasons underway.
For the U17 team, their opening game had to be considered a huge success. After four first period goals, the team cruised to an easy 5-1 victory over Bismarck. Austin Czarnik scored twice in the first period, including a beautiful drive down the right wing where he uncorked a slap shot that went perfectly into the upper corner of the net. Michael Mersch also scored a pretty goal when he shelfed a puck from the top of the cirlce. Jack Campbell played very well in net, only allowing one goal on a tip in front of the net. Kevin Clare is the captain of the team and looks to be the class of the defense. He was rock solid all game, and also won a fight in the first period.
It was a different story for the U18 team, who was upset by Wichita Falls 3-2 in overtime. The US didn't dress top players Jeremy Morin and Kyle Palmieri, as well as A.J. Treais, Jerry D'Amigo, and Tyler Amburgey. The US team got off to a great start, and looked to be skating and moving the puck well, but could only build a one goal lead and failed to put the game away. As the game dragged on, their level of play really seemed to sink down to the competition.
Wichita's Mike Jarboe is probably one of the best goalies in the NAHL, and he showed why tonight. He stopped 47 of 49 shots, and while he didn't have a lot of highlight reel saves, he was always in perfect position, and made some difficult saves on blasts from the point. The other big difference in this game was the powerplay. Wichita scored all three goals with the man advantage while the NTDP went 0-for-5. The US fired a ton of one-timers from the point, but could never get a decent deflection or rebound in front of the net.
It's a disappointing result, but it's early in the season, and the team was playing without some of their best players. All in all, there will probably be more panic about this game than it deserves.