Maybe it would happen when the puck was deep in the other end. Or during a break in play. Or when he was entering or exiting the ice surface.
But Every so often, Michael Boike would sneak a quick look up toward the Plymouth Ice Center bleachers.
There, lined up along the sky blue-painted top railing, were dozens of men wearing intent stares and customized black fleece jackets.
“We were lucky if maybe we would get five scouts to our games the entire season,” said Boike, the Team Michigan goaltender from Cadillac who was brilliant in beating the Team Minnesota Senior All-Stars 2-1 on Saturday, April 25, in the Minnesota National Invitational Tournament. “Here, I look up and see all the scouts lined up.
“This is a spectacular event.”
Boike, not unlike most of the players in the tournament designed to showcase seniors who have not committed to junior or college programs, said his hockey future is decidedly fuzzy.
“I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet,” Boike said. “I was hoping this would maybe help me; see if anybody talks to me and just go from there.”
There’s no doubt Boike’s latest performance was an attention-grabber. Both Michigan coach Kevin Ahern and Minnesota Seniors coach Phil Housley noted a second-period save Boike made on Riley Borer that allowed Michigan to maintain its 1-0 lead.
And, of course, there was a final Borer-Boike confrontation with four seconds left. Borer, a first-line standout forward for two-time defending state Class A champion Breck, was stationed to the left of the goal when he took a perfect feed from defenseman Lucas Whelan of Wayzata and, one-timed a shot that would have sent the game into overtime had it gone in.
“I was kind of lucky (Borer) didn’t get everything on it,” Boike said. “He flubbed it a little, and I just came over and got my pad on it. I got a little lucky. What a great game.”
The victory was Team Michigan’s second over Minnesota competition (it also beat Minnesota’s U18 team) and knocked the Minnesota Seniors out of the running for the inaugural tournament’s championship. Team Wisconsin beat North Dakota 4-1 to conclude the tournament on Saturday and wrap up the championship.
Wisconsin and Michigan each finished with 3-1 records, but the championship went to Wisconsin by virtue of its 4-2 victory over Michigan.
“He was awesome,” Team Michigan coach Kevin Ahern said about Boike. “He made some great, great saves. He was due for a big game.”
As for the tournament, a Midwest replacement for the old Chicago Showcase (there was also a Pittsburgh Showcase featuring mostly East Coast teams the week before the Minnesota NIT), it drew rave reviews from coaches and team officials.
“I thought, for the first year, they did a great job,” Ahern said. “We had a little coaches meeting and they are talking about trying to get at least eight teams. I would like to see that. I would like to see maybe Massachusetts and New England get out here and make it a little more of a competition.
“But for the first year out of the gate it wasn’t anything different than I expected. It was all good hockey.”
1. Michael Boike, Team Michigan
Goaltender from Cadillac went from steady to spectacular to what's- better-than-spectacular as the game progressed, putting an exclamation mark on his 25-save performance with a goalmouth stop on Riley Borer with 4 seconds remaining.
2. Eric Fragoso, Team Michigan
Scored the what proved to be the game-winner in the final minute of the second period when he cooly skated through the crease and deposited a rebound shot into the net. The goal was his tournament-best fifth in four games.
3. Jim Kruger, Minnesota Seniors
The Minnetonka star was credited with making seven saves (a total that seemed a bit low, given the steady amount of business he received) before exiting midway through the second period with a shutout.