By Kim Staudinger
The Havre Ice Hawks wrapped up a very successful season Saturday in Great Falls, placing third in the Casey Cup Midget Tournament.
Havre won its first game of the tournament, 4-2, against Crow Foot from Alberta. Garrett Drake, Jason Johnstone, Brett Patrick and Mark Benjamin each scored goals. Patrick scored the assist on Drake's goal, Johnstone's was unassisted and J.R. Morse had the assists on the final two scores.
The Ice Hawks suffered a tough loss in their next game, falling in double overtime 2-1 to Canadian foe Swift Current of Saskatchewan. Cody McLain scored the lone Havre goal.
Moving to the loser's bracket, the Ice Hawks defeated Calgary's Bow Valley 5-3 to take third place. Four seniors played in their last game for the Ice Hawks Saturday Eric McLain, Jason Johnstone, J.R. Morse and Jack Stilger.
Jason Johnstone, Jon Johnstone, Cody McLain, Benjamin, and Drake each scored goals in the consolation game. Jason Johnstone's goal was assisted by brother Jon, with Patrick assisting Cody McLain's. Benjamin's was unassisted. Cody McLain assisted Drake's, and Chazz Hurlburt assisted Jon Johnstone's goal.
Jason Johnstone received the Most Valuable Player Award for the weekend.
Playing in the regional tournament in Salt Lake City the weekend before, the Ice Hawks ran into a tougher time.
Havre was without four players in Salt Lake due to rules stating players must attend Havre High School in order to participate. Two players Eric McLain and Jack Stilger had already graduated. Two others attend school elsewhere. Karrie Engebretson attends KG, and Ernie Fuglevand goes to Chinook. Stepping up to help the Ice Hawks with the loss of four players were Tyson Anderson and Andy Hanson.
The first game ended in a tie at zero against Davis, Utah.
Then Havre lost 9-7 to Brighton, Utah. Racking up goals for Havre were Morse, Jon Johnstone (2), Levi Briese, Patrick, Drake and Jason Johnstone. Jon Johnstone was credited with the assist for Morse's goal, with Jason Johnstone picking up one assist on his brother's goal and Morse grabbing the other. Hurlburt assisted the other four goals.
The Ice Hawks lost the next game to Jackson Hole, Wyo., 4-0.
Havre represented Montana in the regional tournament after taking second at the state tournament. Other states represented at the tournament were Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Wyoming, Colorado and Utah.
In preparation for the regional tournament, the Ice Hawks competed in a tournament in Bow Island, Alberta. Havre opened the tournament by picking up an 8-3 win against Vulcan, Alberta.
Patrick scored a hat trick in the game, with Drake assisting two of his goals and Eric McLain the other. Andy Meyers and Hurlburt combined for another score, and Meyers and Corey Stremcha combined on an assist for a score by Jon Johnstone. Cody McLain also scored two goals in the game, with assists going to Hurlburt and Drake. Briese rounded out the scoring with a goal assisted by Jason Johnstone.
The following day, the Ice Hawks lost 8-5 to Foremost, Alberta. Patrick scored two goals in the game with Cody McLain and Drake adding the assists. Jason Johnstone, Eric McLain and Drake scored the other Havre goals with Hurlburt and Briese combining on the assist for Jason Johnstone and Hurlburt assisting Drake's score. Eric McLain's goal was unassisted.
In the last day of the tournament, Havre once again lost to Foremost 8-5.
Morse scored two goals, with Briese and Eric McLain adding the assists. Cody McLain added a goal with Hurlburt and Patrick combining for the assist. Drake and Patrick also combined for a goal, and Eric McLain rounded out the scoring with an unassisted goal.
Mark Benjamin guarded the goal for the tournament.
Playing for a right to go to the regional tournament in Salt Lake City, the Ice Hawks looked to defend their title at the state tournament starting Feb. 16 in Bozeman.
The weekend started strong for Havre, which shut out Bozeman, 4-0. Jordon Patterson, Patrick, Cody McLain and Briese all scored goals in the game. Patterson's goal was assisted by Chad Hanson, Patrick's by Drake, Cody McLain's by Patrick, and Briese's was unassisted.
Goalie Eric McLain received the Most Valuable Player Award for the game, stopping 24 shots.
In Havre's second game, the Ice Hawks tied with Missoula 4-4, but came out victorious because of the point system and the earlier shutout. Morse, Briese, Stremcha and Jason Johnstone each scored goals in the contest. Jason Johnstone and Andy Meyers assisted Morse's goal, and Morse assisted Briese's. The final two goals were unassisted.
The win made the Ice Hawks the top seed out of their pool with the least number of goals scored against them.
Game 3 of the tournament for Havre, the semifinals, saw the Ice Hawks victorious, 8-4, over Helena. Patrick scored a hat trick with four goals, earning him Most Valuable Player honors for the game. Briese, Patterson and Drake each added scores. Stilger, Patterson and Cody McLain each had two assists, with Morse and Drake each adding one.
The Ice Hawks were down 3-2 going into the final period of play against Helena.
Eric McLain stopped 32 shots in the net.
With the win, Havre advanced to the championship game against Billings. But the Ice Hawks' hopes of a repeat as state champion were dashed by the Bulls as they fell 5-2.
Cody McLain and Patrick scored the Havre goals with Drake and Meyers grabbing the assists.
Havre was down in the game 3-1 going into the third period.
"We're pretty proud of our kids," Coach Steve Johnstone said. "I think the kids had a great experience playing for the state championship. We just came up a few goals short."
Johnstone's son and team captain, Jason Johnstone, said Billings simply executed better at times during the game than did the Ice Hawks and got a few breaks, which helped them in key times.
"It was disappointing, especially because we had beaten the team before," he said. "We just couldn't put it together."
Said teammate Briese: "Billings is a great team. We've got to give credit to them. They played great. We didn't bring our A game. We came ready to play. We just weren't playing to the best of our ability."
Still, Briese said, the Ice Hawks had a very successful and fun season.