AFTER a successful regular season, all four Bradford Bulldogs’ competitive junior teams entered their respective tournaments with plenty of confidence.
The Under-12s, Under-14s and Under-16s took part in the Kingston Ice Hockey Tournament, while the Under-18s were the last team to enter the fray when they took part in Sheffield’s event.
And, as in the regular season, it was the Under-12s who proved the most successful, prevailing in their age group at Hull Arena to add to the EIHA league title they won in April.
It took a dramatic overtime winner from captain William Durgan to see off Sheffield 2-1 in a thrilling final.
In the group phase, Andy Brown’s team had enjoyed wins over Hull (4-0), Peterborough (8-1), Belfast (3-2) and Whitley Bay (3-0) while they were held to draws b Sheffield (3-3) and Romford (3-3).
Over the same weekend, the Under-16s came close to reaching their own final, but were denied 4-0 by a strong Coventry team.
Earlier, in the group phase, coach Kirsten Deighton’s team had pulled off a stunning 2-1 win over the hosts, following up an opening 1-0 win over MIlton Keynes before a 2-2 draw with Telford. On Sunday, a 1-1 draw against Romford was followed by a 2-1 defeat to Coventry, who repeated their success when they met the Bulldogs again in the last four.
The Under-14s, who finished third in their regular season after a thrilling run-in saw them just miss out on making the Nationals, fell just short of making the final in their tournament at Hull Ice Arena.
The group phase saw them lose just once to Sheffield 3-0, with wins coming against Kingston (8-0) and Romford (1-0), while they shared the points with Manchester Storm (2-2) and Coventry (0-0).
In the semi-finals, they came up against Manchester once again, going down 1-0 with the Storm youngsters denied by Sheffield in the final shortly after.
“It was a great effort from all three of our teams in Hull across two very different weekends,” said Bulldogs’ head coach Andy Brown.
“The standout performers again were our Under-12s who have enjoyed a tremendous season, adding the tournament win in Hull to their league title earlier in the year.
“It was a nail biting final for everybody but winning at the death like that made it even sweeter. I’m really, really proud of the team and the nerve they showed – they have gone from strength-to-strength all year.
“Ultimately, all the kids have bought in from the start of the season and they’ve worked extremely hard – you don’t win two trophies without that commitment and effort.
“The 16s and the 14s did well to reach their respective semi-finals and, on each occasion, were unlucky not to make it through to the final.
“Both teams played some great hockey throughout – the 16s win over Hull sticks in the memory – and did themselves and the club proud.”
The Under-18s were the last of our teams to compete in a summer tournament, pitting their skills against several rivals in Sheffield last weekend.
It was tough going at Ice Sheffield, with the Bulldogs unable to find a win in their five games, starting with a 2-0 loss to Sheffield before further defeats came against Stormers (4-1), eventual winners ADHUK (2-1), Solway (5-1) and a 5-3 reverse at the hands of Basingstoke.