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Tier II 16U Teams Showed Resiliency After Opening Losses

By Tom Robinson - Special to, 04/07/16, 10:00AM MDT


Half of the finalists started tournament with defeats

WAYNE, N.J. -- One day into the Toyota-USA Hockey Youth Tier II 16U National Championships, not much could be determined from the results. As many opening-day losers as winners wound up making their way to the championship games on Monday.

Both Team Wyoming and the Oklahoma City Oil Kings lost their openers only to meet in the Class 1A final, with Wyoming winning 4-2.

The Armstrong (Pa.) Arrows also made the Class 2A final following an opening loss, but they fell 7-4 to the Maine Moose in the championship game.

The two Class 3A finalists, the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies and Chesterfield (Mo.) Falcons, both won their openers. Oakland prevailed 2-1 in the title game.

Opening Losers Get Semifinal Revenge

Team Wyoming and Oklahoma City each avenged their opening losses during Sunday’s semifinals.

After Wyoming lost to the Manchester (N.H.) Flames 6-5 in an opening-day shootout, it dominated the rematch to win 5-0.

Hunter Peterson had a hat trick and Team Wyoming had a 40-24 shot advantage in the first meeting, but it allowed the game-tying goal in the final minute then lost the shootout.

“We played solid in the first game against them,” Team Wyoming coach Matthew Sauter said. “We felt we outplayed them.”

Peterson was back for more in the semifinals. He scored a goal 15 seconds into the game and added another in the second period before assisting on the team’s third goal in the second.

“We had the confidence going into the rematch,” Sauter said. “We started off with the goal 15 seconds in and never looked back.”

Ryan Welch had both second-period goals to build a 4-0 lead.  

Oklahoma City lost to the Charleston Jr. Stingrays 2-1 in the opener before winning its next two pool games. The Oil Kings then pulled out a 3-1 win in the semifinal rematch against Charleston when Tristan Glass had a goal and two assists.

Getting Defensive

The Maine Moose took a six-goal lead in the Class 2A title game to all but secure an undefeated record and a national title, so giving up three goals in the final 7:09 hardly made a dent. Even with the outburst, Maine gave up just 10 goals in six tournament games.

Nicholas Bisson, Cole Ouellette, Matthew Jolicoeur, Samuel Story, Gavin Bates and Jayden Wilson formed the defense for the Moose, who won the final 7-4 over the Armstrong Arrows.

In Saturday’s pool play finale, the defensive unit allowed just 12 shots during a 7-0 shutout of the Nashville Junior Predators.

Ouellette also contributed four points to the offense.

Final Goal

The final game on the final day of the event went overtime.

Michael Ellis picked a perfect time to score his first overtime game-winner ever. His score lifted Oakland Jr. Grizzlies to the Class 3A national title over the Chesterfield Falcons.

“It’s quite an experience,” Ellis said. “I’ll remember that the rest of my life.”

Stats Leaders

Hunter Peterson had a long regular season with Gillette, winning just twice in the Wyoming Amateur Hockey Association.

When the top players in that league came together to form Team Wyoming, Peterson had a much different experience, winning four times at nationals, leading Team Wyoming to the Class 1A title and leading all tournament players in goals (12) and points (13).

“My teammates helped a lot,” Peterson said.

One of those teammates, James Doyle, led the division in assists with eight. Wyoming goalie Nils Hout, led with two shutouts.

Warren Natyshak from the Sylvania (Ohio) North Stars led 2A with seven goals. Three players — Cody Doyon from Maine, Joshua Linn from the Alaska Oilers and Timothy Organ from Sylvania — shared the assist lead with six. Ty Black from the Texas Junior Brahmas had the most points with 11.

Al Guzzardo from the champion Oakland Jr. Grizzlies led all 3A players with six goals. Eric Vanderhoff from the Skyland Kings led in assists with five. Alec Grace from the Orange County Hockey Club had the most points with eight.

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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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.

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