WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. -- Who needs defense?
The Los Angeles Selects won their pool in the USA Hockey 12-and-Under Tier I National Championships, winning all three games for the maximum nine points by scoring and scoring and scoring.
Their goals allowed — seven — was no better than three of the teams in the other pool, but when you average seven goals per game, it doesn’t matter.
The Selects started the tournament scoring that average in a 7-1 win over Valley Junior Warriors. Cole Guttman notched a hat trick along with two assists and Ivan Lognia scored twice with four assists.
That was followed by a 5-2 victory over the Thunder Hockey Club from Huntsville, Ala., as Lognia scored another two goals and an assist.
LA wrapped up the round robin with a 9-4 blowout over the Syracuse Nationals. The score was 9-2 until the waning moments of the game. Brannon McManus got the hat trick and one assist, while Lognia added to his tally with a goal and two assists.
However, when LA needed defense, they did step up. In their quarterfinal game against the Mid Fairfield Blues, LA won 2-1. Daniel Chladek in the first and McManus in the second gave the California team a 2-0 lead before the Blues got one back in the third. LA held Mid Fairfield to just 14 shots in the game, with only four coming in the final period.
Ultimately, defense won out when LA lost in the semifinal round 5-1 to Chicago.
Who needs offense?
On the flip side, the other 12U pool saw the New Jersey Colonials take first place by scoring just seven goals. They beat out the Chicago Mission — who scored a whopping 24 goals — while letting up a measly three.
Chicago’s stats were padded by a big 16-0 win over the host Amherst Knights. Chicago also shut out the Anchorage North Stars, 7-0. It was the middle game that was the difference, losing to New Jersey in a shootout, 2-1.
The Colonials sandwiched that all-important win with a 2-1 victory against Mid Fairfield and a 3-1 win against Detroit Compuware.
New Jersey had its only scoring-fest in a 5-4 quarterfinal win over Syracuse. Back to defense, New Jersey took the semifinal match with another 3-1 win over Detroit.
“The biggest challenge was emotionally staying ready for every game because every game was a close one,” New Jersey coach Noel Rubin said. “There were no easy games coming through. Our first couple of games were one-goal games. Then we had an up-and-down game against Syracuse in the quarterfinals. I think we were a little overconfident, but we battled back from two two-goal deficits and came back. I was really proud of our effort.”
Meanwhile, Chicago shook off that one blemish by taking their quarterfinal game against Thunder 5-3 and beating LA in the semis 5-1.
Thus, this set up the New Jersey-Chicago rematch for all the marbles.
Like herding cats
How do you keep a bunch of rambunctious 12-year-olds focused? Not very easily.
“I think it was just keeping the boys off their legs,” Chicago Mission coach Gino Cavallini said. “They’re 12-years-old, so an early game in the morning, and making sure they aren’t running around and staying focused, remembering why they are here over the course of the week.”
Sean Dhooghe of Chicago Mission led all scorers with a nicely distributed 10 goals and 10 assists for 20 points. Behind him was Ivan Lognia of the LA Selects with 13 points (5 goals and 8 assists). His teammate, Graham Slaggert, scored seven times.
Not counting one-game starters, Jeremy Forman of Chicago played in three games with a 0.33 goals-against average and .964 save percentage.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.