INDIAN TRAIL, N.C. – Beau Donelan was hoping for a rematch against the New Hampshire Junior Monarchs.
Donelan and his Team Wyoming teammates got their wish Monday at the Extreme Ice Center — and made it pay off with the team’s biggest win ever.
Team Wyoming rallied from an early deficit to hold off the Junior Monarchs 5-4 in the Youth Tier II 14U Class A final at the Toyota-USA Hockey National Championships.
Donelan, a 13-year-old forward, scored two goals and assisted on three others for Team Wyoming, which had lost to the Junior Monarchs 5-1 on Friday in the second day of pool play.
“We didn’t play very good the first time [against the Junior Monarchs],” Donelan said. “We’ve never been to the championship before, so we were all trying to play smart and physical [Monday].”
The Friday loss to the Junior Monarchs prompted a players-only meeting 90 minutes before Team Wyoming’s final pool-play match against the AHU Silver Knights on Saturday — a game they had to win to advance to the bracket round.
“We wound up winning in overtime,” Team Wyoming coach Hunter Boldt said. “They did it again [Monday] morning — they were here before 7 [a.m.].
“I don’t know what they talked about or what they were doing, but whatever it was, it worked. They took some initiative and did that on their own.”
In Monday’s title game, Rowan Wuerdeman scored three goals and had an assist to add to Donelan’s two goals.
Yet it wasn’t that easy for Team Wyoming in downing the Junior Monarchs the second time around.
The Junior Monarchs, who won two of their three games in pool play, went up 2-1 midway through the first period on goals by forwards Kevin McGuire Jr. and James Surgenor.
Surgenor set up McGuire’s goal just 46 seconds into the first period. After Donelan scored a power-play goal with 11 minutes, 45 seconds left, Surgenor scored himself, deflecting a shot off Team Wyoming goalie Bradley Muzzarelli’s shoulder and into the goal with 8:05 remaining to put the Junior Monarchs ahead.
But the Junior Monarchs missed a chance to extend their lead in the first period when McGuire missed a penalty shot wide right with 2:06 remaining.
“That was big,” Junior Monarchs head coach Kevin McGuire Sr. said. “That could’ve put us up 3-1, and that changes the whole course of the game. That was crucial. That might have been the turning point, because we could’ve opened the game up then.”
Said Boldt: “That was huge, huge. If they had scored on that penalty shot, it was a potential backbreaking moment. But once they missed that, the guys got their confidence, like, ‘Hey, we can do this.’”
Team Wyoming tied the game at 2-2 on Wuerdeman’s goal (off Donelan’s first assist) with 1:35 remaining in the first period. Donelan then put Team Wyoming ahead to stay, scoring 58 seconds into the second period off assists from Matthew Seymour and Jack Harris.
Wuerdeman scored twice more for Team Wyoming in the second period — the first coming on a power play with 2:51 left off assists from Donelan and Harris, the second with 56.7 seconds left thanks to an assist from Donelan.
The Junior Monarchs weren’t out of it, though.
Burke Brady scored 15 seconds later (off assists from McGuire and Surgenor) to cut Team Wyoming’s lead to 5-3 at the end of the second period, and scored again with 9:11 left in the third period (off an assist from Surgenor) to pull the Junior Monarchs within 5-4.
But the Junior Monarchs lost a chance to score four minutes earlier, when Team Wyoming was able to clear a two-man-down power play.
“When they went up 5-on-3, I started getting worried,” Boldt said. “In the past, when we’ve given up goals, it’s been boom-boom — we give up a couple quick goals. I was worried that they were going to get a couple quick goals and tie it up.
“But we were able to fight through that. Once they did that, the kids knew that they just had to keep doing the little things.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.