On Thursday, February 13, the Winnipeg Midget Twins left Manitoba for their annual five-day hockey tournament in Chicago, Illinois. The bus trip – which included various stops throughout North Dakota, Wisconsin and Illinois was highlighted by meals at world famous Portillo’s, Gino’s East Deep Dish Pizzeria, Buffalo Wild Wings and Jimmy John’s. Scheduled tours of the Willis Tower Skydeck, Millennium Park, the Bean, the Magnificent Mile and various ice surfaces throughout town wrapped up the festivities in the Windy City during what just so happened to be NBA All-Star Weekend.
Despite being down two players for the duration of the trip (while another missed one game due to a suspension), the team came together, rallying for a come-from-behind thriller against Nashville to earn a place in the semifinal. Down three goals in the semifinal game against Wisconsin, the Twins came to life, collecting a 5-4 victory and earning a place in the final against a strong club out of Ventura, California.
After earlier losing to the Mariners in the preliminary round (the team’s only loss of the tournament) the Twins responded nicely, shutting out the tournament favourite, 3-0, in a game dominated by the Canadians. Captain Matthew George had the insurance marker midway through the third period, while goaltender Massimo DeLuca-Taronno earned a 40-save shutout. Defenceman Kaleb Mackie-McLeod was named tournament MVP, providing exceptional physical defence, while also helping create much of the team’s offence while serving in an expanded role.
The Midget Twins returned home to Winnipeg on Tuesday, February 18 with two games left on the 2019-20 schedule. The team will now look to solidify a spot near the top of Hockey Winnipeg’s AA standings for the second-straight season. Alongside his assistants, Head Coach Jonathan Brooks will aim for another long-lasting playoff run in this his 40th season behind the bench.