GREEN BAY, Wis. -- You never want to wake up a sleeping giant. Victory Honda might have done that, but not intentionally.
Victory Honda took a 1-0 lead in the Toyota-USA Hockey Tier I Youth National Championships 18-and-Under title game Sunday, but Shattuck-St. Mary’s erupted for three consecutive goals en route to a 4-2 victory at Cornerstone Ice Center.
“It was almost like a wake up,” Shattuck-St. Mary’s forward Ryan Norman said. “We just got right back at it and got a quick goal after that and just kept building off it.”
The first two Sabres goals came in a span of 4.5 minutes early in the second period.
“We just kind of relaxed a little bit and realized that this is the last game of the season and you’ve got to calm down and give it all you’ve got,” said Chase Phelps, who will play at Boston University next season.
The national title is the third in the last four seasons and sixth in 10 years for the Shattuck-St. Mary’s 18U youth program. Coach Tom Ward has been at the helm for 16 years and knows how to win the big game.
“I’ve been lucky enough to get a couple and they’re all unique, they’re all different with a different group of guys,” Ward said. “I’m super happy for the kids. It’s been a great day for our program all the way around.”
Norman, who has committed to play at the University of Minnesota in 2016, has been at Shattuck-St. Mary’s for four seasons but captured his first national championship.
“This is a great feeling, especially after all the time and all the hard work we put into it this season,” Norman said. “All the long Tuesday practices and cold winter days, it all adds up and then here’s what we get.”
Shattuck-St. Mary’s showed it was the more skilled team with eight Division I signees and verbal commits, including three to Minnesota. Victory Honda had a tough time slowing down the Sabres’ potent offense.
“For us, we just try to do our thing and not even worry about who we are playing,” Victory Honda coach Brian Burke said. “We made it through two [periods] and thought we had a chance, but it didn’t work out.”
Dylan Fouts scored the first goal for Victory Honda as he found a tight area at the side of the crease and beat Shattuck-St. Mary’s goalie Lukas Kania to make it 1-0 at 1:11 of the second period. The Sabres answered with goals by William Bender and Norman to go up 2-1 at the 8:42 mark of the second.
“It was just kind of the end of my shift and I cut across the blue line hoping to get a lane,” Norman said about his goal. “A guy stepped up on me and I just kind of shot it on net and I think it went in high glove.”
Shattuck-St. Mary’s, which didn’t commit a penalty the entire game, took a commanding 3-1 in the third period thanks to a Colt Conrad tally.
The Sabres were outshooting their opponents by 12 shots when Victory Honda started peppering Kania, who finished with 28 saves. Victory Honda finally got one in the back of the net as Nathan Bryer scored at 11:09.
“Once they scored, I thought we calmed down,” Ward said. “It was 3-2 and I thought we actually played better than when it was 3-1.”
Anthony Petrella closed out the game with an empty net goal with 33.7 seconds remaining.
Victory Honda played phenomenally at nationals, finishing 4-2 after earning an at-large bid to the tournament. Shattuck-St. Mary’s didn’t have much breathing room as the Victory Honda players were pesky.
“All the teams this late in the year are,” Norman said. “You’re going to get everyone’s best game, especially playing against us because everyone wants to beat us.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
The Dorchester Chiefs won a hard-fought USA Hockey National Championship, beating the Hollydell Hurricanes 3-2 to win the Tier II 18 & Under Conference 4A title game on Sunday in Rochester, N.Y.
Dorchester was challenged throughout the National Tournament. Five of the Chiefs’ six games were decided by two goals or fewer. In fact, the only game with a comfortable margin was their tournament-opening 7-2 victory over Hollydell, which played Dorchester much closer in the rematch.
Dorchester built a 3-0 lead after two periods, then held on to survive a Hollydell rally. The Hurricanes scored twice in the final nine minutes, including a goal that cut the margin to one with 35.9 seconds remaining.
Dorchester killed four of five penalties in the final 10:22 and Chiefs goalie Sal Tecci stopped a half dozen shots in a furious final minute of play.
“That last minute,” said Tecci, shaking his head in disbelief. “The goal they got with 30 seconds left, I didn’t even see it. I was screened on the play.”
“Then, after that, they were just all over us,” continued Tecci. “I just did my best to stop everything. Then, with about five seconds left, someone had the puck and got wide open right in front of me. My heart just stopped. Somehow, I just managed to get a glove on it.”
“You’d much rather see the puck down at the other end, I’ll tell you that,” Dorchester coach Ross Pasquantonio said. “All of us were holding our collective breath on the bench, watching the clock. There’s nothing else you can do.”
“It’s typical of them, taking it to the last minute and putting everyone on edge,” Pasquantonio continued.
The game didn’t start off as a nail-biter. Dorchester scored twice in the first three minutes of the game and seemed on track to match their comfortable win over Hollydell in the tournament opener.
Mike Lopez started the scoring 1:32 into the game with a goal from Nick Bligh. It was Lopez’s fifth goal of Nationals. Combined with his team-leading eight assists, Lopez ended up as the leading scorer for the Chiefs. Bligh recorded his seventh assist of the tournament, good for second on Dorchester.
A minute and 18 seconds later, Joe Dipietro scored his first goal of Nationals, helped by Mike Sullivan’s first assist.
In the second period, Dipietro fed Sullivan to give Dorchester a 3-0 lead. It was Sullivan’s fifth goal and Dipietro’s second assist.
The offensive show was a surprise for Dorchester, who depended on a small group of players for most of the tournament.
“We basically played the whole tournament with two lines,” Pasquantonio said.
The Chiefs got 25 of their 28 goals from five players and 32 of their 40 assists from six.
Part of the reason the Chiefs went a little deeper into their bench in the title game was their late night in the semifinals.
“The game lasted until 12:30 (Saturday) night,” Tecci said. “We went to overtime. We didn’t get to bed until about 2:30.”
“It was just a lucky break that we didn’t get a 10 a.m. start today,” Pasquantonio said of the team’s 1 p.m. start, the last of the four championship games played on Sunday.
One area where Dorchester didn’t go deep into the depth chart was between the pipes. Tecci played every minute of all six games, making Dorchester the only team in the finals not to use their backup netminder at any point in the tournament.
“I was brought in to be the main goalie,” Tecci said with a shrug, “but yeah, I guess I’m pretty beat. I saw a lot of shots.”
Tecci stopped an eye-popping 190 shots, including 34 in the championship game.
“Sal was the backbone of our team,” Pasquantonio said. “We needed him in order to get where we are. He’s the best I’ve ever coached. He has a bright future.”
Hollydell made things interesting in the third period as Dorchester seemed to show signs of a tough six days of hockey. Mike Schwer scored with 8:40 remaining in the game for his first tally of the tournament. Christopher Carnivale assisted.
Kevin Kiehner added the goal in the final minute that set up the frantic ending. It was his first goal of Nationals. James Privito contributed his team-leading fifth assist.
Dorchester was unbeaten on their way to the title game. After beating Hollydell in the opener, they beat Mt. Clemens 4-2 and Clifton Park 6-4.
In the quarterfinals, Dorchester took out Team Toledo 6-4, then beat the Northwest Chargers in a marathon game Saturday night.
Story courtesy of Red Line Editorial, Inc.