INDIAN TRAL, N.C. — The list of people T.C. Lewis wanted to thank seemed endless.
Last week’s USA Hockey Tier II 14-and-Under national championships at the Extreme Ice Center in Indian Trail, N.C. “has run like clockwork,” Lewis, the tournament director, said Sunday, with the A, AA and AAA finals scheduled. “It went remarkably well.
“You always worry about scheduling snafus, teams coming in late …”
Lewis then shrugged. The 14U tourney was stretched out over five days and the drama was limited.
“The kids have been well-behaved and the play — and even the parents in the stands — has been great,” said Lewis, who was working his sixth national event.
Sunday morning kicked off with the Affton (Mo.) Americans upending the Alaska All Stars 7-0 in the AA final. In the A final, the Atlanta Phoenix generated second-period spark and cruised to a 6-3 victory over the Northern Kentucky Norse. In the AAA final, forward Tommy Nook scored early in overtime, clinching a 3-2 win over the St. Lawrence (N.Y.) Thunder.
Lewis was asked if he expected the tournament to return to the suburban Charlotte facility in the near future.
“Certainly, you like to come back to where you have had success,” said Lewis, adding the tourney is already is booked for 2014, but the bidding is currently open for ’15.
“There is a good chance it will be back,” Lewis said.
Growing up together
When talking about the program’s first national title Sunday, Atlanta Phoenix coach Robert Cernich put up a shield.
“I don’t want to take any credit at all,” he said, deflecting the attention.
Instead, he recounted the years he spent watching eight players grow up together.
Brandon Reidy, Michael Leon, Matthew Von Dwingelo, Austin Magera, Cael Cernich, Seth Johnston, Michael Sobczyk and Cameron Miller have been teammates “since they were Mites,” coach Cernich said. “That’s the biggest thing. They stuck together through thick and thin.”
Grin of the Week
Magera collected three goals in the final. When asked how many hat tricks he collected this season, he grinned and said: “A lot.”
Northern Kentucky coach Mark Hogue calmly listed the squads’ M*A*S*H report this season: “two broken arms … a concussion … illness …
“It was a tough year.”
The roster was in so much flux, Hogue said he did not have consistent forward lines until March.
Hogue credited his captains, Cole Bentley, Christopher Dunne and Hunter Hogue, for helping lead the squad to a berth into the national finals. All three players have been with the program since they were 3 years old, coach Hogue said.
“They pretty much started the program,” he said with a laugh.
St. Lawrence is familiar with overtime.
To clinch the New York State Tier II title last month, the Thunder topped the Rochester Grizzlies 3-2 in the extra stanza.
Seven players on the current roster dressed for the Bantam squad last season that also fell in OT in the national finals.
Like many medalists, Affton forward Luke Gassett said he had a special spot on his bedroom shelf selected for his first-place prize.
“It’s definitely something I will treasure the rest of my life,” Gassett said of the gold medal.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.