By Dan Hardenbrook

The Tahquamenon Area Youth Hockey Association’s 10U Renze Powersports battled against the best teams from across the Upper Peninsula in the annual District 8 Tournament, where a spot in the Michigan Amateur Hockey Association’s 10U B State Tournament, scheduled for early March, was on the line.

Early in the competition, it looked like another TAYHA team would punch their ticket to “States”. Team Renze came out red hot in the group round, racking up three straight wins and earning the top seed from the American Division and a spot in Sunday’s championship rounds.

The District 8 Tournament in Negaunee started Friday afternoon as Renze took on Keweenaw Bay. They made an instant statement as Renze skated to a 9-1 win to open at 1-0 on the weekend. With only two teams from the group of four advancing, Renze put themselves in the driver’s seat for the American Division, starting Saturday with another impressive win, dominating Calumet in an 8-2 victory.

With a 2-0 record, and leading all teams in goals scored, fewest goals allowed, and goal differential, it was clear that this could be a weekend to remember. The group round wrapped up with a weekend high 11 goal performance, as Renze swept the group round with an 11-4 win over Manistique. Daniel Rahilly scored five goals in the win over Manistique, Emeric Zellar had two goals and an assist, while Garrett Taylor also added a pair to lead the team to their spot in the semifinals. Chesnee Curley was the winning goaltender in all three group round games.

Championship Sunday brought back the top four teams from the group round for a crossover semifinal with each division’s winner featuring the other side’s runner up. Renze was the #1 Seed from the American Division and matched up with National Division #2 Seed Marquette while American Division #2 Seed Calumet drew 3-0 National Division winner DAHA in the second semifinal.

Many thought the semifinal winner between TAYHA and Marquette would win the title game, and the two teams delivered an excellent and exciting contest. Marquette struck first on a rebound goal to go up 1-0. Another quick shot from the side wall also got in, and Marquette led 2-0 after the first period. Renze responded in the second period, cutting into the lead on a score by Rahilly.

Marquette continued to control the contest, building a 4-1 lead late when Taylor and Zellar scored back-to-back. With the final seconds ticking away, Renze pulled the goalie for an extra attacker and came close to tying the game on multiple shots but couldn’t get one to go, ending their weekend in the semifinal round.

The performance impressed friends and families that have followed the team all season long. With no home ice in Newberry this year due to the weather, it was an hour drive to all practices and even longer than that for some games with nothing at home. The young group showed great promise and continues to grow.

They will wrap up their remaining regular season schedule over the next few weeks before heading to Puck of the Irish in Bay City in March. The TAYHA 12U Ice Cream Bandits will have their district tournament in Ironwood this coming weekend while the 14U French Trucking team will be on their home ice in Manistique.