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.
EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Two months from now, the St. Louis Blues hope to experience the thrill of winning the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time.
What happened Sunday for the Chesterfield Falcons is the equivalent of hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup for an 18-year-old. Bringing another youth hockey championship to this St. Louis suburb never gets old.
The Falcons scored a late third-period goal to widen its advantage and beat the Florida Junior Panthers 3-1 in the USA Hockey Tier IIAA 18-and-Under National Championships title game at Suburban Ice Arena. The game was one of three championship matches played here on Sunday as part of the Tier II 18U championships.
It was the third time in five years that Chesterfield, which is the top-ranked 18U program in the country regardless of class or conference, won a national championship at the 18U level. All of the titles have happened in even-numbered years (2008, 2010 and this year).
[y tii 18 2a champs] “This team is typically about 90 percent new every year, maybe with four or five returning players,” Chesterfield coach Lindsay Middlebrook said. “It takes a little pressure off of having to repeat given we seem to win it every other year.”
All kidding aside, Middlebrook said the secret to the team has been how well the team has come together.
“We’ve been in one of the best Double-A hockey leagues now [Central States] for five or six years, and this year we had a really good team,” he said.
Chesterfield shut out the West Haven (Conn.) Blue Devils 6-0 in the first game before losing 2-1 to Florida in the second game of pool play. The Falcons then beat the Tri-Cities (Wash.) Junior Americans 6-1 in the final pool game before blasting the Mission (Ariz.) Ice 9-2 in the quarterfinals and edging the Richmond (Mo.) Royals 4-3 in the semifinals.
It was that loss to Florida that stuck with Nicholas Fontana. He thought about that loss as he notched the late third-period goal, off a pass from Jacob Kaufman and Nicolas Brocksmith. The shot just eluded the stick of Florida goalie Austin Luboff.
“Earlier in the year we beat Florida in two games but we lost to them here,” Fontana said. “We knew coming in that they’d play us hard, and we knew we had a big bench and could go deeper into the lineup than they could. We ended up shutting them down.”
The shot was in a perfect position for Fontana.
“I was on a long shift, and I was forechecking and I saw the puck come around the boards and I thought I’d dump it off to a teammate,” Fontana said. “Then I was already down there so I figured I might as well take the shot. We’ve talked about getting in front of the net and screening the goalie so we could get a shot, and I just had the chance.”
Florida started with a 2-1 overtime win over the South Central (Alaska) Wolves, beat Chesterfield and the Pro Ambitions Nashua (N.H.) Panther Elites 3-1 in the next pool games, and then topped Team Michiana 4-2 in quarterfinal action. In the final four Florida needed overtime for a 3-2 win over the Metro Maple Leafs.
The majority of the Florida team has not been together for years. That said, Florida coach Dana Bengston said the players did a good job of meshing together in a short time.
“As a team we got an at-large bid and we were invited to the tournament because of what we had done during the regular season,” Bengston said. “To come here as an invite to the tournament and make it to the finals… against the number one team in the country… we managed to beat the top team in round robin and it was a close game. For our kids to compete and beat them once shows a lot for the character of this team.
“These are kids who have chosen to stay in Florida and are involved in other things yet still want to play some hockey.”
Florida lost to the Junior Everblades in the state finals. The Everblades were eliminated in pool play and did not reach the quarterfinals.
Prior to Fontana’s late goal, Florida took a 1-0 lead with 5:39 to go in the first period on a Freddy Kasten power-play goal, with the assist provided by Bryan Kubota.
Chesterfield tied the score at 1-1 on a goal by Mark Jones, with assists by Wilder Politte and Jacob Kaufman, with 2:17 to go in the second period.
The score stayed tied until the third period. With 8:17 remaining Daniel Warnecke scored off assists by Nicholas Walters and Callahan Heimos, and Fontana tacked on the insurance marker.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.