Detroit Jr. Red Wings advance to playoffs of the 2023 Brick Hockey Invitational

First time since 2017 that the club advanced past pool play; top forward Cameron Coombe leads tournament in scoring

Craig Peterson

July 9, 2023

Photo from Twitter | @YouthHockeyHub
Photo from Twitter | @YouthHockeyHub

The Detroit Jr. Red Wings competed in the 33rd annual Brick Hockey Invitational last week. This iconic youth hockey tournament has seen some of the best players at the 10U age group compete in the unique event since 1990. The 2013-born Jr. Red Wings were able to do something no Detroit team has accomplished in the tournament in six years. With a 6-3 win over the Toronto Bulldogs on Friday, they guaranteed themselves a spot in the six-team playoffs. It was the first time since 2017 that the Michigan-based club had advanced past pool play.

This one-of-a-kind youth hockey experience takes place inside the West Edmonton Mall. Because of the unique setting and high-level competition, it is widely considered one of the best amateur events in the sport. The 14-team tournament features hand-selected organizations that are “franchised” to compete in the event each year. In more than three decades of action, a Detroit team has won the entire tournament just once, back in 1994. 

The ‘13s started out a bit jet-lagged, with an 8-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens. But Cameron Coombe and Harley George were able to get the offense going by Tuesday morning, and the Jr. Wings rattled off five consecutive wins to conclude pool play. Their plus-15 goal differential was the second highest in the entire tournament, trailing only the Canadiens. 

A 5-1-0 record earned the Jr. Wings the No. 2 seed out of the Styles Conference. In the quarterfinal matchup, they would eliminate the back-to-back defending champion Connecticut Jr. Rangers with an 8-4 win Saturday morning. Advancing to the semifinals for the first time since 2012, the Jr. Wings gave up four consecutive goals to start the game with Team Minnesota. Goals from Declan Kavanaugh, Maverick Coon and Parker Miller would not be enough to overcome the early deficit, and Detroit would be eliminated from The Brick on Saturday evening.

Cameron Coombe leads The Brick in scoring with more than two goals per game

So much of the Detroit Jr. Red Wings’ success at The Brick Hockey Invitational stemmed from top forward Cameron Coombe. He scored 18 of the team’s 41 goals, and factored in on 68.3 percent of the offense. He scored multiple goals in five of six tournament games, with his most impressive outing coming in an 8-5 win over Western Selects. Coombe scored four goals and added two more assists to give the Jr. Wings their first victory of the tournament. He finished with 28 points in eight games, one shy of Montreal Canadiens forward Liam Tep (29). 

Teammates Harley George and Parker Miller also finished among the leaders in offense with 19 and 15 points, respectively. George scored two goals late in the game against CCM Chicago to put it out of reach, 4-1 on Tuesday. Miller’s 10 assists tied for the second most in The Brick, and his three playoff goals were tops among those competing in the elimination rounds as well.

Coombe and Miller are key players for the 2013 Little Caesars squad during the winter season. George, as best we can tell, spent last season playing for the Chicago Reapers.

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