If you watch the Boston Bruins games on NESN regularly, they’re the hockey players you’ll be seeing next winter. Names like Gabe Poirier, Josh Girard, Tyrell Lewis, and Sean Doyle.
Those were four of 64 youth players who competed at the State of Maine Qualifying Event for the 31st annual TD Bank Mini 1-on-1 tournament. The Bank of Maine Ice Vault in Hallowell hosted the qualifying event last weekend.
Bill Boardman, general manager of the Ice Vault, said 32 two-person teams competed Saturday in Hallowell for a total of eight spots in the Mini 1-on-1 tournament.
“These events were held last weekend all over New England,” Boardman said.
The mini 1-on-1 tournament is filmed at the TD Garden in the fall and airs during intermissions of Bruins telecasts on NESN. Teams are separated into four divisions: Boys squirt, boys peewee, girls U10, and girls U12.
“One of the more fun things we do in the spring is have the kids compete,” Boardman said. “Parents really enjoy it. The kids really get excited. It was very loud this weekend.”
Poirier, from Gardiner, and Girard, from Clifton, are already NESN stars, as they “recently” advanced to the semifinals of this season’s tournament in the Boys U10 division.
On Saturday, Poirier and Girard were representing Skating Association of Maine (SAM) Moose Hockey, and they came out of the loser’s bracket in the squirt division to advance to the tournament in Boston. In the finals, Poirier and Girard faced another SAM Moose team: Lewis, from Augusta, and Doyle, from West Gardiner.
Although both teams had already qualified, they played off to determine a winner. Poirier and Lewis are the shooters, and they took turns in NHL shootout-style fashion: Best of three, except it’s the same player taking the shot each time.
After three rounds, the teams were tied, which meant sudden death. They stayed tied until the eighth extra round, when Poirier scored, and Girard stopped Lewis to preserve the win.
“It’s very similar to what you would see when you’re watching a Bruins game, in between periods,” Boardman said. “It’s very exciting. We try to replicate what they’re going to do when they go to the Garden.”
The peewee teams qualifying Saturday were Andy Moore and Quinn Veregge of Casco Bay, and Kevin Woods and Graham Payne of the Southern Maine Breakers. Casco Bay won Saturday’s title.
The Twin City Titans (Bella Webster and Lauren Powers) won the girls U10 qualifying, with Paige Bourgoin and Madyson Boulet of the Maine Gladiators also qualifying. In girls U12 play, the Maine Jr. Black Bears team of Robin McMahan and Emma Dunn were the winners. Also qualifying was Brewer Youth Hockey (Lily Audibert and Lexi Marsh).