LAKEWOOD, Ohio — According to Ohio Flames President Bill Donoho, the Flames are longest running girls’ program in the Mid-Am District. Therefore, it seemed fitting that in a season in which the organization is celebrating its 20th season, it was selected to host last weekend’s 2013 USA Hockey Mid-Am District Girls’ Championships at Serpentini Arena in Lakewood, Ohio.
Begun initially as “a bunch of dads putting together a club for their daughters,” the Flames have continued to evolve and expand over their two decades of existence.
“We have expanded our programming from having just one full time team at the Tier I U-19 level to now having full time Tier I teams at the U-16 and U-14 levels,” Donoho said.
The program’s primary focus is on skill building during practice sessions and offering an elite development opportunity without having to attend prep school, according to Donoho.
“We feel that player development happens in practice and games are an expression of how well we’re developing talent,” he said.
And, based on their roster of current players committed to playing at the college level next season, the organization’s impressive list of distinguished alumni — including U.S. Olympians Kelli Stack and Brianne McLaughlin — and current Director of Women’s Hockey for USA Hockey, Reagan Carey, the Ohio Flames are, indeed, developing talent.
Ultimately, Donoho believes the development of the organization’s players can be best observed as the individual player becomes a contributor to her team, and he finds that experience “most gratifying.”
Several Shootouts in Tier I
The Mid-Am District Girls’ Championship weekend included several games that needed a shootout to determine a winner and a championship game that featured three overtime periods.
All of the winners advance to the 2013 USA Hockey National Championship event in San Jose, Calif.
At the 14-and-Under Tier I level, the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite advanced to the finals after impressive shutout wins in each of their contests. Maddie Mills accounted for four goals in Pittsburgh’s 9-0 win over the Ohio Flames, while teammate Blossom Truel earned a hat trick in their 7-0 victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The attention-grabbing game at this level was a contest in which the host Ohio Flames and down state rival Columbus Blue Jackets required a 28-player shootout to determine the winner. For the Flames, Kelly Cingel scored in the shootout, while Rachel Allen and Brighid Martin scored during Columbus’ winning effort.
At the 16-U Tier I level, each of the contests was decided with a one-goal margin of victory, including a shootout, as Team Pittsburgh advanced to the national event.
Team Pittsburgh’s 19-U Tier I team also earned a trip to San Jose as goaltender Gabri Switaj maintained a goals-against average of 1.00 during the tournament.
Tier II Roundup
At the Tier II level, Steel City Selects advanced at the 16-U division, while the Columbus Blue Jackets need three overtime periods to earn their ticket to San Jose in a 2-1 win over Steel City Selects in the 19-U division.
A Strong Showing
Tournament Director and Mid-Am District Girls/Women Section Representative Yevet Anderson said she was pleased with the level of play throughout the weekend and observed several outcomes that bode well for the future of girls’ hockey in the district.
“That North Hills team at the U-16 Tier II was a Cinderella story as that program was a developmental group two years ago,” she said, “and the Columbus Blue Jackets win is like a peek through the looking glass, showing what girls can do.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
Girls' Tier I
14-U: Pittsburgh Penguins Elite
16-U: Team Pittsburgh
19-U: Team Pittsburgh
Girls' Tier II
16-U: Steel City Selects
19-U: Columbus Blue Jackets
Tag(s): District Notebooks