BURLINGTON, Vt. -- The Concord Capitols began their 2016 Toyota-USA Hockey Girls Tier II National Championship bid with the No. 17 jersey of teammate Lilianna Parker of Concord, New Hampshire and Vermont Academy hanging behind the bench.
As the Capitols were opening tournament play against the Brewster (New York) Lady Bulldogs, Parker was at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center preparing to undergo a second brain surgery to alleviate seizures.
“Lilianna’s on everyone’s mind,” said coach Chris Benoit, a native Vermonter who played at Plymouth State. “Several of the girls have gone to visit her. She’s hanging in there, but she’s lost about 15 lbs. and has had a part of her skull temporarily removed for the necessary procedures.”
Parker and her Vermont Academy teammate Lotti Odnoga were both on the Capitols roster, but Odnoga, a native Hungarian from Budapest, is currently in Europe playing for the Vasas Hockey Club.
Chris Benoit’s brother Jeremy, a former University of Vermont Catamount (’88-’92), is an assistant coach along with Chuck Sisson and Dwight Sperry. Wendy Houle is the team manager.
Chris Benoit’s daughter Miranda and her cousin Isabelle are team members. Abby Houle, the lone goalie, had 18 saves in the Capitols’ opening round 4-1 win over Brewster. Seven different players figured in the scoring. Domonique Boron scored twice. Sydney Faschetta and Mikah Baptiste also had goals and Morgan Sisson, Bridget Brook, Olivia Brandi and Drea Chin had assists.
Julia Surgenor, just out of a cast for a bad ankle sprain, scored two goals in the Caps’ 9-2 win over Brick (New Jersey) Hockey Club, as did Bridget Babcock.
Wizards Survive in Overtime
In their first-round encounter, the East Coast Wizards (Massachusetts) and the Steel City Selects (Pennsylvania) scrapped to a scoreless tie through regulation and five-minute overtime before the Wizards prevailed by shootout.
Kate Shaughnessy of Westwood, Massachusetts and The Rivers School and Angelica Mushenko from East Longmeadow, Massachusetts and Pomfret School, sent shootout bids into the net.
Emma Zeveney had to make 38 saves to keep the Selects in it. She snagged a hot backhander by the Wizards’ Jayden Young in overtime and also denied Rachel DiFraia from close range. Wizard goalie Kelly Lavelle had 10 saves, including a clutch stop as Steel City’s Charleigh Wagner barreled down the slot in the final minute of regulation.
Ice Dogs Rebound After Shutout
The Northern Virginia (NOVA) Ice Dogs emerged from the Chesapeake Bay Hockey League for their first ever trip to Nationals.
The Ice Dogs were penned in by powerful Assabet Valley 6-0 in their first game as Assabet goalies Samantha Dahill and Jordan Manning combined for the shutout. They bounced back for a 3-1 second round win over the Illinois Vikings, bolstered by Sydney Stropes’ 25-save effort.
Megan Jenkins, a tri-captain along with Frances Penney and Samantha Kadlec, scored the first-ever Ice Dogs goal at nationals with an assist from Kate Danziger. Kadlec’s twin sister Margaret set up the Dogs’ second goal by Ciara Weets and then scored the final goal, unassisted.
“We’re not a high-scoring team,” coach Steven Guilbault said. “Everybody has to stand tall. Assabet was fast and we were a bit nervous on the big stage, but the girls had a blast later at the opening ceremonies and then continue to play well as they had in the final period of the first game.
“Sydney Stopes [a.k.a. Squid] is a very focused and determined goalie,” Guilbault said. “She doesn’t get surprised by shots and doesn’t let a weak goal distract her or get her down.”
Defenseman Charlotte Smith played a significant role in the Ice Dogs success this season, but was sidelined with an injury for nationals.
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.