Dynamic Duo

by Tim Droogsma

NEW HOPE – Midway through the semifinal game of Saturday’s International Invitational Tournament, Team Minnesota Red coach Tadd Tuomie had an idea.

With his team trailing Red Bull Salzburg 2-0, Tuomie decided to shake up his lines and put Demetrios Koumontizis (Edina) and Jack Perbix (Elk River) together. It paid immediate dividends as Koumontizis scored off a Perbix assist and Minnesota Red rallied to beat Salzburg in overtime.

In Sunday’s championship game, the duo had a hand in three goals as Perbix recorded a hat trick and Koumontizis assisted on all three as Minnesota Red defeated Shattuck-St. Mary’s 5-1 to win the 2017 IIT.

“We certainly wanted to try to get scoring from all our lines, but they had chemistry right away,” Tuomie said. “It was a good fit and they made me look good.”

Perbix, who had eight goals and 28 points in the Elite League’s regular season, has great finishing skills around the net, and Koumontizis is a great passer, as evidenced by his league-leading 33 assists and 49 points in the Elite League season.

“He’s always got his head up and he’s always trying to make plays and score goals,” Perbix said of Koumontizis. “It’s really cool.”Minnesota Red's Jack Perbix had a hat trick in the IIT Championship game - Elite League photo by Nick Wosika

“He’s a great goal scorer and he knows how to put the puck in the net, obviously,” Koumontizis said of Perbix. “I’m pretty good at finding players and he’s always there. If you get it to him, odds are he’s going to put it in the back of the net.”

The duo combined with linemate Jack Gorniak (West Salem, Wisconsin) for the game’s first goal. On a power play, Koumontizis sent the puck to Perbix, who worked a slick give-and-go with Gorniak and scored from the slot. 

In the second period, with Minnesota Red ahead 2-1,Koumontizis carried the puck into the slot and had a great scoring opportunity, but instead he surprised everyone with a pass to the weak side, where Perbix slammed it into an open net.

“I saw him just before I got the puck and I thought ‘he’s going to be open’ so I might as well just slide it down to him,” Koumontizis said. “And it ended up working.”

The two teamed up again in the third period, with Koumontizis assisting on the goal that gave Perbix his hat trick and gave Minnesota Red a 5-1 lead. From there it was left to goalie Jackson Hjelle (Delano), who made 41 saves and was named tournament MVP.Goalie Jackson Hjelle (Delano) was named MVP of the 2017 IIT - Elite League photo by Nick Woskia

While Koumontizis and Perbix will now head off to their respective high school teams, they both think there’s a chance they’ll be on the ice together again in the spring. Both were selected by Green Bay in the USHL and both expect to play together following the high school season. “That’s the plan,” Koumontizis said. “I think we’ll be playing together too. Obviously we click very well.”Minnesota Red celebrates following their victory in the IIT championship game - Elite League photo by Nick Wosika

TOURNAMENT NOTES: Red Bull Salzburg, which lost to Minnesota Red 4-3 in overtime in the seminfinals, took third place with a 4-0 win over Chicago Mission. The Tier 1 Elite team took fifth place by beating Stanstead College – a Quebec prep school – 2-0, and Minnesota White beat Michigan 5-4 to take seventh place…Perbix led the tournament in goals with four, while Perbix and Taro Jenzsch were tied for the tourney lead with six points.

ALL-Tournament Team

D – Ben Brinkman – Minnesota Red

D – Kilian Zundel – Red Bull Salzburg

F - Taro Jenzsch – Red Bull Salzburg

F – Demetrios Koumontizis – Minnesota Red

F – Jack Perbix – Minnesota Red

G – Jackson Hjelle – Minnesota Red

MVP – Jackson Hjelle, Minnesota Red