The Buffalo Bisons youth hockey program continues to dominate the New York state girls’ championships, taking three of the four age groups in 2013.
Hardly anyone stood in the Bisons’ way of playing at the USA Hockey National Championships on April 3-7 in San Jose, Calif.
Starting from the oldest, the 19-and-Under team breezed through its three-team round-robin tournament, taking both games by identical 8-1 scores against the Rochester Edge and then the Troy-Albany Ice Cats.
In the latter game, Alanna Herne notched a hat trick, Maddie Elia scored twice, and Allison Gasuik got a goal and three assists.
Herne’s second goal, which made it 3-0 in the first period, was the prettiest one. She dipsy-doodled around two defenders to be alone with the goaltender who didn’t stand a chance. Her last goal was perhaps the luckiest as it deflected off her stick and then skate, which made the score 6-1 in the third period.
Buffalo moved the puck well on the power play, scoring five times. Twice, a quick cross-ice pass to the side slot area resulted in a one-timer past the goalie. The first by Madison Sansone made it 5-1; the second resulted in Elia’s first goal for a 7-1 lead. Elia’s second goal, also on the power play, was an impressive rush through the opposition for the eventual breakaway.
One would not have known the 19U team hadn’t played together in awhile.
“We’ve been playing since July together,” coach Scott Welch said. “We paused when the high school season started in November. We went to the Polar Bear tournament [at the end of December]. Won the tournament this year. This is the first time we played a game since then, so it was good to get back together. We were pretty excited to see each other again.”
The 16U team had it even easier. It didn’t even have to play in a district tournament to be declared the New York district representative at the Nationals. They will be joining the 19U team in San Jose.
All of the other 16U teams decided to compete at the Tier II level, leaving the Bisons with a clear path and an opportunity to prepare for nationals the entire season.
The 12U Bisons team also competed in a three-team round robin, taking both contests. They beat the Syracuse Nationals 2-1 with Alexa Carlon getting the game winner with less than a minute to play. They clinched the title with a 4-1 victory over the Rochester Edge.
There is no longer a national tournament for the 12U age group, so the Bisons will need to be content with their second consecutive NYS crown.
Syracuse Nationals spoil Buffalo’s party
The Syracuse Nationals were the only non-Buffalo Bisons team to win a Tier I New York state championship, taking the 14U category in dramatic fashion.
The Nationals started the four-team round robin portion losing to the Bisons, 5-1. They regrouped to take the next two games by a single goal, 3-2 over Westchester and 1-0 over the Rochester Edge. This set up a rematch with Buffalo in the championship game.
“Buffalo was the best team at finishing scoring opportunities we played all year,” Syracuse coach Mickey Parker said. “In the first game, every time we gave them space and an odd girl rush they would score. It was simple to me and my coaches — take away the two-on-one and three-on-two rushes and we will have a fighting chance. We made a few changes to our systems and the girls listened to us in the looker room, executed it perfectly on the ice, and it worked like a charm.”
Syracuse kept Buffalo off the scoreboard, winning the game 1-0 with the goal coming from the unlikeliest player. Emily Rose fired off a wrist shot through traffic ... despite having a cast on her arm.
“She broke her arm in our game against Westchester the day before and played the championship game with a cast,” Parker said.
Host teams take top two Tier II age groups
Chazy Youth Hockey hosted the Tier II 19U New York state tournament, and its team won it all. Chazy started the tournament with a scoreless tie against the Cazenovia Lady Chiefs. It rebounded with two wins in the round robin, 4-1 over the Skaneateles Lakers and 5-1 over the Lady Islanders.
This placed Chazy against the West Seneca Wings, which Chazy won 6-2, setting up a rematch with Skaneateles. Chazy again scored four goals while this time not letting one in for the championship.
The Potsdam Ice Storm also took advantage of playing at home, winning the 16U crown. Like last year, Potsdam had two heart-stopping playoff contests. After breezing through the three-game round robin, outscoring their opponents 19-3 with two shutouts, the Ice Storm faced off against the Brewster Lady Bulldogs in the semifinals.
Potsdam needed overtime to pull out a 2-1 win. The championship was against the Lysander Lightning, a team Potsdam defeated earlier, 6-3. This one was a lot closer with another 2-1 win on a late goal in regulation.
The Massena/St. Lawrence Thunder won the 14U championship in a 1-0 victory over the Hamburg Hawks. They will join their fellow Tier I and Tier II district winners at the nationals in San Jose.
The West Seneca Wings defeated the CNY Bobcats 3-1 for the 12U title.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
Girls Tier I
12U: Buffalo Bisons
14U: Syracuse Nationals
16U: Buffalo Bisons
19U: Buffalo Bisons
Girls Tier II
12U: West Seneca Wings
14U: Massena/St. Lawrence Thunder
16U: Potsdam Ice Storm
19U: Chazy Youth Hockey