BURLINGTON, Vt. -- Less than a month after opposing one another for the Vermont Division I girls’ high school crown, Vermont Shamrocks teammates Riley Yandow of BFA St. Albans High and goalie Vika Simons of state champion Essex High School found themselves lifting the 2016 Toyota-USA Hockey Girls Tier II 19U National Championships winners’ plaque at Cairns Arena in South Burlington, Vermont.
Yandow scored the game-winner from an improbable angle 7:08 into overtime to seal the deal for the Shamrocks in a 2-1 thriller over the sharp-skating Connecticut Northern Lights.
“I saw a rebound and went for it,” Yandow said. “It was a backhand and it was lucky that it went in.”
The final score reflected the back-and-forth play of the game.
“It could have gone both ways,” Yandow admitted. “They were a very good team. I think we outworked them a little. I knew the winning goal was probably not going to be pretty, would probably be a dirty goal. It was very exciting to win for our hometown fans.”
Yandow authored the Shamrocks first goal just she had scored the first goal in Vermont’s 4-1 semifinal win over the Massachusetts Spitfires the night before.
Meanwhile, Simons was a rock in front of the Shamrocks goal. Many of her 18 saves came during the second period when Connecticut was surging.
The Lights’ Ellie Kraus, a force to be reckoned with in front, scored on the power play at 11:44 of the middle period. Kraus reached a long way for the puck and then flipped it over Simons’ shoulder with her back to the net. Gabby Roy and Maddie Gervais assisted on the play.
Vermont visited the penalty box three times in the second period.
Gervais, Maddie Giordano and Maddie Bishop shined for Connecticut, skillfully evading defenders with bursts through zones, excellent stick-handling and big-hearted defense.
Giordano was victimized by Simons several times. Once Giordano made a lightning-quick swirl around a defender for a close range bid that Simons managed to flick away.
“We should have three or four goals by now,” coach Dan Giordano said after the second period.
“This is amazing,” Simons said amidst the post-game celebration. “I can’t begin to express what I’m feeling. The second period was tough. I just tried to put my whole body into it.”
Simons, who’s headed to the University of Minnesota Duluth next fall, said that having some bad luck in overtimes this season crossed her mind.
Yandow was joined by four other BFA-St. Albans teammates on the Shamrocks roster: Aliza Ellis, Makenna Larrow, Kaitlin Laroe and Emma Hill.
“The St. Albans kids are a force,” Shamrocks coach Pat Burke said. “You don’t get fed supper at night up there if you aren’t a fierce back-checker. But we got help from everybody. Mikaella Doran also gave us great goaltending.”
Burke made sure to credit two players that traveled from the Brattleboro area in the southern end of the state, Alyssa Roof and Ellie Todd-Long.
“They had to travel a lot. They really wanted it,” he said.
Other Shamrock players that factored significantly included defenseman Jordyn Michaud of U-32 High School and Anna Burke of Mount Mansfield Union High School, who opposed each other in the Division II finals. Dakota Bilodeau of Colchester, Jessie Scott of Barre and Spaulding High School, Kate Hall of South Burlington High, Ricki Haab of Stowe, Kailie Matteson of Rutland, Avery MacGillivray of Essex, and Katie Matott of Beekmantown (N.Y.) High also stood out. Matott had a hat trick in the semifinals.
Northern Lights goalie Hannah Stone had an excellent game, stopping 33 of 35 shots on goal.
“My girls played hard,” coach Giordano said. “Vermont had a little more size and strength and mobility than our other opponents, and they wore us down a bit.”
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.