In what can be perceived as a meeting of the leagues and a gathering of professionals, teams from the AIHL, PIHA and MLRH competed in the first MLRH Open which offered the opportunity for franchises to compete against their rivals in other leagues. Participating in this inaugural event were the hybrid combination of the Detroit Revolution (PIHA, AIHL) and the Motor City Phoenix (AIHL), which would play as Labeda Detroit, the Tour Bordercats, Buffalo Wings, (independent) the Grand Rapids Grim Reapers and Virginia Wings (MLRH).
The event would start off with teams competing with everything they had and the fans being treated to some great hockey. As round robin play would determine, both the Buffalo Wings and Tour Bordercats would remain undefeated. The Wings, (Buffalo), would defeat the Labeda Detroit team 3 – 2, to secure their tie for first place with the Bordercats. Goals against would determine how the teams placed out as the Bordercats had allowed one less goal than the Wings. Rounding out the division would be the Grim Reapers in the fourth place and the VA Wings finishing in fifth.
As the Reapers and VA Wings would match up, the Reapers would eliminate VA in a goal fest which boosted the confidence of Grand Rapids. The next matchup for advancement would feature the Buffalo Wings and Labeda Detroit in a rematch of their earlier game, where Buffalo had defeated Labeda. The tables would turn in this game as Labeda would knock out Buffalo by the identical score of 3 –2 to advance to the MLRH OPEN final. The Tour Bordercats would then meet their first round opponent, the Grand Rapids Grim Reapers. The Reapers, who were looking to avenge their round robin loss to the Bordercats, came out and played a much better game, while Tour’s powerplay proved to be deadly converting three powerplay goals to knock the Reapers out 6 – 2.
As the stage was set for the championship game, the fans in the building were treated to the best hockey of the day yet. In a game which would see the Labeda Detroit team jump out to a three goal lead, Tour would battle back to make it a one goal marker, with less than two minutes to play. Battling hard and with their goaltender pulled, the Bordercats threw everything they had at the Detroit team only to come up empty handed as the final buzzer would echo through the Rochester facility, with the final score, 5 – 4 in favor of Labeda Detroit.
As President Bill Raue would present the $1,500 cash prize to the Detroit team, everyone who had participated thanked Bill for the idea and the great time they had.
“It was a great event, well organized and I was pleasantly surprised”, John Gelement of the Tour Bordercats had to say.
“We had fun even though we didn’t advance to the finals and would do it again”, John Brown coach of the Buffalo Wings offered.
“Even though we didn’t win a game, our team knows what we need to work on to get better”, Sean Gaglione of the VA Wings had to say.
MLRH will return to the Midwest with the MLRH OPEN in February to the Joe Dumars fieldhouse. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org