The 2016 Ales Hrebesky Memorial is in the books, and if you missed it because of all the college lacrosse action going down right now, that’s fair. To get you caught up, we have a massive recap of the best box lacrosse tournament in all of Europe! The AHM is, to put it simply, a very special event. And this year was as exciting a Memorial as we have ever seen.
One reason that the 2016 Ales Hrebesky was exciting was that a first-time champion was crowned, and that team was new to the tourney. That’s always a great story line. But the really amazing thing we saw were all the upsets and tight games. Some top level teams took surprising losses, and while some rebounded, others struggled to bounce back. On top of all that, there was some really amazing play on the floor, and the talent level was higher than ever.
2016 Ales Hrebesky Champions – Team Alberta
Team Alberta joined the AHM fray for 2016, drew a tough group, and brought a smaller roster of guys, but it simply didn’t matter. After their first game, you knew Alberta had a shot. That first game was against the home side LC Custodes from Radotin, and Alberta came out with a 4-3 win. LCC basically does not lose in group play… so this was a really big win on day one, and for many, an upset. Although not to the guys from Alberta.
Erk Turner announced his presence at the game, and had 3 assists to go along with crucial play on both ends of the floor. He was a horse all week long, and did more work for Alberta than any other player in the entire tourney. He scooped up an insane amount of loose balls, and ragged the ball as well as anyone. He also shot… a LOT, and this kept the pressure on the opposition all tourney long.
Against the Bratislava Bats, Alberta took a 6-2 win, and Greg Bourret was on fire with 4 goals. The smaller Bourret was wearing #16 and looked like Shawn Evans out there. Adding the 4 to his 2 goals against LCC, and Bourret was clearly the team’s scorer. For the rest of the tourney teams would key on him, and come up short. He had a goal and 2 assists in Alberta’s 6-3 win over Nova Scotia, and Alberta was on to the semifinals. Erik Hansen had a hat trick, and continued to be another very dangerous option for Team Alberta.
The Turku Titans had a great tourney, and gave Alberta an awesome game in the semis. The guys from Finland put on a show, never gave up, and got some amazing goaltending from Lauri Uusitalo, and the game went to a shootout. There was some controversy on an over the line call/no call, but Alberta came out with the win. I’d describe this game further, but you can watch it here, and really should. It was a very exciting, and fun, game!
In the finals, Alberta matched up LCC Radotin once again, and you could tell this was going to be an epic game well before it started. LCC was tested, having beaten the Green Gaels in the semis, and Alberta was also well respected. The home crowd came out in force, and it was game on.
Alberta took a 2-1 lead in the first period. The second was back and forth, and ended 4-3, still in favor of Alberta. The third was ridiculously exciting, and both teams got to six goals apiece when the game went to the next level. OT comes to the Memorial finals. Extra lacrosse on Saturday night in Prague? It’s a dream come true. In the end, Shaun Wilhelm scored a big goal (as he did all tourney long – another standout for Alberta), and that was that. Team Alberta were the Memorial Champs!
Amazing Games & Big Upsets
A couple of games in, and the 2016 Ales Hrebesky looked almost predictable, and then the Glasgow Clydesiders took down th Nova Scotia Privateers (my old team!) 3-1. Yup, 3-1. Our own Brian Witmer got one of Scotland’s goals, and people were on notice – DON’T TAKE ANYONE LIGHTLY. Still, it happened, and big time teams continued to lose. Props to Scotland who had a great tourney, and props to Nova Scotia for bouncing back well and still making the Quarters for a top 8 finish.
On Wednesday we also saw LCC lose to Alberta. I covered it above, and seemed like an upset only for a brief moment. Of course in the very next game, the Istanbul Sultans beat the Ladner Pioneers 4-3, and jaws literally dropped. Maybe Istanbul saw that one coming, but I don’t think many others did. Duncan Shaw had 2 goals and an assist, was a real difference maker.
By Thursday, people started to look at Istanbul as something really serious, but then they lost to TJ Malesice, 8-2. 8-7? Sure. 3-2? Ok. But 8-2? The margin of that one made it an upset, and again the tourney seemed primed for weird results. When the Turku Titans took down the Ladner Pioneers 4-3, ripples resonated deep. Not only did it happen right after TJM took down Istanbul, but it marked the Pioneers second loss, and this was a REALLY good team. I think they won it all last year? Oh yeah, they did. Just shows how tough, fun, and difficult the Ales Hrebesky Memorial truly is (and why we’re modeling out North American Invitational after it!).
It gets harder to call later games upsets when you know a team had improved, but I think many people were still surprised at just how much Turku had improved, when they took down the Megamen 4-3 in the Quarter finals. Turku got a top 4 finish for the first time ever, and their run was nothing short of inspiring. Those guys are working their butts off at this game, and players like Robert Raitilla (2 goals, 1 assist vs Alberta in 5-4 semi loss) show just how much promise the current generation of young Finnish players possess.
LCC beating the Green Gaels 8-5 isn’t an upset per se, but again it was a decent margin. To be fair, the game was close for a long time. GGA won their 3rd place game over Turku 7-0, and you have to credit that team for a lot of things, like their annual youth clinic in Radotin, but they always finish a tourney hard.
Standout Players – 2016 AHM
Dylan Goddard – Green Gaels – Goddard scores great goals, plays team lacrosse, and is a fixture for the Gaels in Prague, He’s not the biggest guy, but he’s a slick lefty who scores, and he makes others around him better.
Dominik Pesek – LCC Radotin – Pesek is athletic, has great hands, and can shoot the ball from the outside. He is the main guy on a talented and experienced LCC team, and the other guys out there do a great job of putting pressure on the D so Pesek can get his looks. He puts up the points, and is a great player, but it’s also very much a team effort for LCC.
Corey Shires – Istanbul Sultans – 11 goals and 9 assists over 4 days in really short games is downright impressive, and it was good for second top scorer (one behind Goddard, and one ahead of Pesek) in the tourney. Istanbul put on a show a couple of times, and Shires was a big part of that.
Greg Bourret – Team Alberta – Bourret loves the behind the back and we love him for that. 12 yard btb on the sweep across the top? Bourret did it. Big goals all week, tough play, and the guy is SMILING ALL THE TIME. Pleasure to watch him tear it up.
Robert Raittila – Turku Titans – Raittila is emerging as quite the player. He carries, dodges, shoots, and move the ball, all really well. He showed great toughness and puts defenses on their heels. He’s a bright star for a constantly improving Finland program.
Erik Turner – Alberta had a bunch of standouts, but Turner was simply on another level at times. I’m not sure he came off the floor much, if at all, towards the end of the Memorial, and while others were dragging, he was still going strong. His work rate was phenomenal and he also finished at #11 for tourney scoring with 7 goals and 5 assists.
Gavin Prout – Green Gaels – When Prout played offense, he was great, scoring 6 goals and 6 assists. But he also played D, and gave the Gaels an extra push wherever they needed it. He played great, and helped maintain that Green Gaels edge on the floor.
Brian Witmer – Glasgow Clydesiders – Sure, Brian writes for LAS, but he also scored 8 goals and had 2 assists playing mostly as a defensive transition player. He was off to the races, and scored THREE goals against LCC. I think all three were on the break? Whatever. He was great on D, played awesome lacrosse, and was another guy who was always smiling. Great guy who had a GREAT tournament. Well done, Brian! You actually do deserve this!
Lauri Uusitalo – Turku Titans – Uusitalo played superb lacrosse this week, and he is night and day better than he was 5 years ago when I first saw him play. I mean Lauri was a brick wall this week, and did a phenomenal job to get his team to the semis in lots of low scoring games. We saw a lot of great goaltending this week, but Lauri stood out the most. Considering some of the other goalies in attendance (Wilson, Roberts, Evans, Leone, Miller, Mares amongst others) that is saying something.
Chris Vawter – Team Alberta – Vawter was just solid all around, and provided really good stability and calm on defense for Alberta. I don’t have any flashy stats for him, you’ll just have to take my word on this one.
2017 – AHM
What do you really want me to say here? It’s going to be awesome. IT ALWAYS IS!