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Elmira ball hockey squad finishes second at Ottawa tournament

The Elmira 37s and Team Apex took a group photo together after the Redwood Cup finals, which Team Apex won in a shootout. Team Apex consists of Boston Bruins player Ryan Spooner and friends. Elmira 37s players are Brandon Brubacher, Luke Baleshta, Spencer MacCormack, Mitch Facey, Nick Pope, Matt Schieck, Pat Millington, Jacob Caldwell and Tyler MacGregor. [Submitted]
The Elmira 37s and Team Apex took a group photo together after the Redwood Cup finals, which Team Apex won in a shootout. Team Apex consists of Boston Bruins player Ryan Spooner and friends. Elmira 37s players are Brandon Brubacher, Luke Baleshta, Spencer MacCormack, Mitch Facey, Nick Pope, Matt Schieck, Pat Millington, Jacob Caldwell and Tyler MacGregor.[Submitted]
The Elmira 37s and Team Apex took a group photo together after the Redwood Cup finals, which Team Apex won in a shootout. Team Apex consists of Boston Bruins player Ryan Spooner and friends. Elmira 37s players are Brandon Brubacher, Luke Baleshta, Spencer MacCormack, Mitch Facey, Nick Pope, Matt Schieck, Pat Millington, Jacob Caldwell and Tyler MacGregor. [Submitted]
The Elmira 37s ball hockey team went head to head with some of the country’s best in Ottawa last weekend, finishing second in the Redwood Cup.

The Redwood Cup is a national tournament named after Redwood Road in Kingsville, where the founder of the Play On! program grew up. Play On! is a not-for-profit organization that holds street hockey tournaments across the country.

The Elmira 37s team includes Brandon Brubacher, Luke Baleshta, Spencer MacCormack, Mitch Facey, Nick Pope, Matt Schieck, Pat Millington, Jacob Caldwell and Tyler MacGregor.

“We did well overall. We were all really happy with how we did,” said Brubacher.

They played three round robin games on Saturday and then playoff games on Sunday, winning two and losing one on Saturday to send them to the playoffs.

They finished in seventh place on Saturday out of 14 in their division, adult elite, the most competitive division.

“We made it to the finals and then we lost in the shootout, which was tough, but we were happy we got there in the end,” Brubacher said.

To make it to the finals they had to beat a team from Gatineau that had professional hockey players on it who either played in the NHL or professional hockey in Europe.

“It was a battle. Some of the guys actually play on the Senators because it was in Ottawa. It was fun though. It was cool playing against those guys,” Brubacher said.

But that game wasn’t even the most challenging. He says facing Team Apex was their most trying matchup.

“We were down 5-0 in the first couple minutes actually and then we kind of crawled back into it and tied it up. It was 8-8. That team had Ryan Spooner, he plays on the Boston Bruins. It was him and all his buddies, so that was tough too,” Brubacher said.

The Elmira group had planned to play in the Redwood Cup last year in Lethbridge, Alberta, and even had their plane tickets booked when the tournament was cancelled at the last minute. Brubacher says they knew they had to go this year.

The group also plays in a ball hockey league in Kitchener that is separate from the Play On! tournaments. The league play is in an arena, whereas these tournaments were road hockey.

“You have a lot less time with the ball because the rink is much smaller. The asphalt, it’s not a waxed concrete floor. So there can be cracks in the asphalt, so you’ve got to kind of play differently to accommodate that,” Brubacher explained.

They have 16 players on the team, but the core group of nine play at the Play On! tournaments. While they’re not all from Elmira, he says they all have ties to playing hockey in Elmira, so that’s why they chose the Elmira 37s name.

“Some of us have been playing together for 10 years at least. It started as ice hockey, that’s kind of how we all met, in Elmira, through minor hockey. And a bunch of the guys played on the Sugar Kings,” Brubacher said.

They played in the Play On! tournament in London earlier this year and the organizers asked them to compete in the Redwood Cup because they wanted some good competition.

“It’s a lot of fun. You only need five or six guys. It’s a really fun thing to do and we really enjoy it. We’ll do it again next year for sure,” Brubacher said.

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