BURLINGTON, Vt. -- It was a core group of 14U girls that started playing hockey six years ago in the Anchorage Hockey Association that led the way for the Alaska North Stars this season.
The North Stars won their first two games at the Toyota-USA Hockey Girls Tier II National Championships — a decisive 7-1 victory over the Colorado Selects and 2-1 shootout thriller over the Potsdam (New York) Ice Storm.
Coach Rick Trupp used a summer dryland training regimen that included mountain hikes, roller blading, flag football, street hockey and regular plyometrics training, all of which helped with team bonding and harmony prior to the first practice in late August.
Vermont is the team’s farthest trip east to date. It traveled over 4,250 miles. Prior to nationals, the team played in the Bauer tournament in Detroit, and tournaments in Richmond, British Columbia, San Jose, California and Kenai, Alaska.
“Something clicked in January, because since the Kenai tournament, the girls have not lost a game and continue to roll on,” Trupp said. “One of their team goals is to be the hardest working team and it has paid off for us. This team loves each other and is the closest knit group that I’ve coached in a long time for a team, which makes it truly enjoyable.”
Montclair Hockey Club Brings Fans, Spirit
The Montclair Hockey Club Blues from central New Jersey squeaked by local favorite Saint Albans Saints in the first round before dropping a 4-1 decision to Casco Bay and being shut out by the Alaska North Stars in a game in which goalie Kylie Watts turned aside all 16 shots on goal that came her way.
Sally Solotaroff-Webber hung tough in net for Montclair. She stopped 35 of 40 attempts against Alaska after a 22-save performance against Casco Bay.
The Blues, coached by Tobias Schraven and assistants Kevin Skorzewski and Chris Gannon, didn’t advance out of pool play, but they appeared to be having a good time. The team was getting vocal fan support from an animated group that kept up “Let’s Go Blue!” and “Montclair Blue” chants, mixed with loud but good-spirited groans on offsides calls and near misses.
In the Casco Bay game, which produced intense up and down the ice play and crisp passing, one “near miss” occurred when Hailey Gannon fired a shot off the mask of Islander netminder Camree St. Hilaire, who made 10 out of 11 save chances. Abby Matusovich also worked the net for the winners and made 12 saves in 12 chances.
Coco Klisivitch had two goals for the Blues and saw time on the penalty kill.
East Coast Wizards Win Wild One
The Potsdam Ice Storm and the East Coast Wizards hooked up for one of the best games of the 14U tourney.
The Wizards had to kill off three first period penalties and needed a spectacular save by Daisy Boynton to rob Gabrielle Jones on a breakaway to keep the game scoreless, but Potsdam finally grabbed a 1-0 lead with 2:32 left in the period.
Claire Tyo juked past three defenders during a length of the rink rush and buried a shot through the 5-hole.
The Wizard’s Tyler Girouard turned a great hustle play into a quality shot with one second left, but Potsdam went into the locker room up 1-0.
Early in the second period, East Coast used some great work with a player down by Christina Vote to stay close and then scored a pretty goal with precise passing for 1-1 tie. Christina Klinoff connected with Vote, who sent in Sarah Coyle.
After some fast cycling, the Wizards got even more energized with Klinoff’s unassisted goal off the corner of the post. With a pair of goals within 2:17 East Coast led 2-1.
Four minutes into the third period, Potsdam answered with a rebound goal by Margaret Wilmshurst after another long rush by Tyo.
Emma Watson’s great individual effort won it for the Wizards. The Dover, New Hampshire native was first denied then kept at it and put the rebound home.
The Ice Storm’s Michelle White made 23 saves. Sarah Potter and Boynton combined for nine saves.
“These were two competitive teams,” said Potsdam coach Casey Jones. “It was a fun game to be a part of. We are a small program — no cuts — all players from within a 35-mile circle. I’m proud of all the girls. Defensemen Hannah Zanger, Rosie Jeneault, Gisele Todd and Gabrielle (Jones) have been the heart and soul of our team all season.”
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.