Women vie for 5 championships at KVA Top Shelf Spring Classic
A Misfit Maniacs shooter tries to get one past the Lady Blues goalie during action from the Game 5 final. (Photos by Lou Issel)
The Kensington Valley Arena in Brighton held its 10th annual Top Shelf Spring Classic Tournament April 4-7, hosting 38 men’s and 26 women’s teams from as far away as California with skill levels ranging from novice to ex-collegiate. This column covers the five women’s division championship games.
KVIH arena and hockey director Amy Finkbeiner began the tournament to fill a week of spring dead ice beginning with 12 teams. Little did she know then how it would grow.
“We are full up and must turn away teams every year,” said Finkbeiner. “It is a great fun tournament with great sponsors – Molson, Big Wah’s Hockey Wax and Perfect Edge Pro Shop. The tournament has lots of ways to be a winner with a total of 110 games played, 31 great raffle prizes from local businesses and Saturday night favorite ‘Hockey trivia’ contest.”
This year was special fun for Finkbeiner who plays for the Lady Blues. Her team won the Women’s Rec Perfect Edge Division championship game.
Here’s a look at each championship game.
CHAMPIONSHIP GAME ONE was for the Women’s Rec Molson Division with Team GMOS playing a very close game against Top T and pulling off a 2-1 shoot-out victory. Both teams went scoreless into the third period when GMOS scored at 4:31 and Top T tied it up at 1:25. Next came an overtime series of one-minute periods starting 4 on 4 and then descending to 1 on 1, but still no score.
The game was finally won by GMOS in the shoot-out when Taylor Fournier scored.
“The tournament was great fun on the ice, and hanging out with friends from other teams in between games,” said GMOS player Jordan Wallace. “We definitely plan on playing here next year.”
She noted that the one-minute OT period format was a shock. She had never played in one before. And the team also was surprised to learn that the team could have been decided by a coin toss. “There was no way we were going to have played that hard and end with a coin toss!” she said.
Top T coach Dave Atkinson described a good game in which “our team played really hard.”
Nicole Clemens lauded teammate Heidi Morse. “When the one-minute overtimes went to 2 on 2, we had a penalty, and just one skater and our number 10 Heidi Morse kept their two in their own end the entire minute! That OT format was exciting and fun.”
CHAMPIONSHIP GAME TWO was for the Women’s Advance Rec Division with the Ice Dogs defeating THE Bulldogs 3- 1. The Ice Dogs’ Teresa Koter scored at 4:30 in the first period, assisted by Katie Murphy. The Bulldogs tied the game at 1:08 of second when Tera Bozoian scored an unassisted goal.
In period three, the Ice Dogs wrapped it up with goals from Murphy from Maria Barlow and Jaci Morr from Edra Burris.
Ice Dogs player-manager Mariah Mumford was very happy with the win by her team.
"We usually play in the state championship tournament in Senior B or C and try to go to Nationals like we did last year, but this year we lost," she said. “We were lucky to find a spot here and have had great fun. We did not have an easy time winning this game, and we have a lot of ex-collegiate talent.
“We expect to win States next year, but if not we would love to come back here.”
Mumford played varsity ice hockey and golf for Finlandia University.
“This tournament is always a blast, and we try to play in it every year,” Bulldogs player Tiffany Ribble said. “This game was a hard-fought battle all game long, but we just could not put the puck in their net.
Ribble was a varsity goal tender for Mercyhurst College during its inaugural four years.
CHAMPIONSHIP GAME THREE was for the Women’s Novice Division between the Devils and Top Shelf with the Devils pulling out a 3-2 overtime victory.
After a scoreless first period, the Devils finally got on the board early in the second on Rouett’s goal from Michelle Frost. Top Shelf tied the game near the end of the period, Desiree Messina from Heather Prain, and went ahead with just one second left in the period, Messina from Stephanie Allor. At 3:31 in the third period, the Devils’ Tiffany Muylle tied the game assisted by Lisa Gotham. The Devils won with an overtime one-on-one goal by Muylle.
“This is our fifth year here, and the games are always challenging,” said Devils coach Rod Carrigan. “Most of our players are from the Midland area, and we are an end-of-the-season pick-up team out to have fun.”
Top Shelf player Vera Bozinovski described the tournament as “great fun. And we finished with a great game in a thriller.”
CHAMPIONSHIP GAME FOUR was for the Women’s Rec Big WAH Division between BLB and Black Ice ending in a 3-0 shutout for BLB. Their first goal was scored in the first period, Kerri Rozeboom from Joy Anderson. Period two went scoreless, and, in the third, Jordy Moore scored unassisted, followed by a final goal by Alicia Peless from Rozeboom.
BLB team manager-player Samantha Johnson said goaltender Taylor Watson got them to the championship game and a shutout. “This is our eighth year here, and our third championship” Johnson said. “We played so well together and had so much fun!”
CHAMPIONSHIP GAME FIVE was for the Women’s Rec Perfect Edge Division with the Misfit Maniacs up against the Lady Blues, a Michigan Women’s Senior Hockey League original five team (1992-93). The two teams had tied each other 3-3 the night before and went scoreless in the first period. Early in the second, the Lady Blues made it 1- 0 with an unassisted goal by Mila Fons, who added another to make it 2-0 at 3:34 in period three, again unassisted. The Maniacs finally scored at 2:00, Amanda Levin from Stephanie Korch, but could not manage another before the buzzer ended the game.
Lady Blues team manager-player Amy Finkbeiner could not have been happier. “We tied them 3-3 last night and were really challenged today,” she said. “It was a very exciting tournament and championship game for us. Our goaltender Sarah Mason was great.”
Terri Hupp, team manager-player for the Misfit Maniacs, was very proud of her teammates. “Most of us had never played together, which is why our goalie, Sarah Shevlin, and I chose the name Misfit Maniacs. We went undefeated with a win and two ties and almost took this game to overtime. So we did well, battled hard, are proud of our accomplishment and have had a ball.”
Tournament Director Amy Finkbeiner was happy with a 10th successful Top Shelf Tournament. “We had wonderful volunteer help; my son Alexander Schelling, Beth Williams, Wendy Toth, and Terri Hupp plus many others,” she said
“I came up with the overtime format of five one-minute periods starting four-on-four and descending to one-on-one and a shoot-out. We had two of them and great fun.
“Please check our Facebook page Top Shelf Spring Classic for pictures and video.
April 3-5 2020 will be our 11th Top Shelf Classic. Registration opens January 1.”
She added: “We are going to manage and expand Michele Monson’s great Dirty Thirty Tournament next fall, October 25-27 with registration open September 1.”