It’s been four months since the Cape Cod Whalers Tier I 16U players have skated together.
But head coach Marty McInnis hopes that when his guys team up again, they won’t miss a beat competing in the 2017 USA Hockey Youth Tier I National Championships in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on April 6-10.
The Whalers, a split-season team that competes in the fall, won the Massachusetts state championship on Nov. 13 to qualify for nationals.
McInnis, who played for 12 years in the NHL, doesn’t think the extended time apart will hamper his team as it prepares for national competition. The guys just need to get reacquainted with one another after playing prep school hockey during the winter.
“We have four practices scheduled beforehand and we’re going to try to play a scrimmage before we get out there,” McInnis said. “I know the kids are super excited to get back with each other because of the excitement of states. It will be real fun for me to see how much the kids have improved over the course of the year. For some of these kids it’s their first year of playing high school hockey.
“Does it hurt us sometimes? Yeah, we don’t have that familiarity that some of the other full-season teams do.”
The Whalers play mostly in-state competition during their season and boast a 20-4-4 record. Cape Cod is mostly comprised of 2000 birth year players mixed in with a few 2001 skaters. It’s an older team, so experience is on their side.
“At nationals, most of the teams will be made up of 90 percent 2000 birth year,” McInnis said. “It’s not a big deal when you get older and you get into college, but at high school age when you have puberty, some kids growing and some kids getting heavier than others, six months is big deal.”
Four of the Whalers players — forwards Matt Boldy and Chase McInnis and defensemen Jayden Struble and Ben Meehan — competed at nationals last year at 14U for the Boston Junior Eagles. The team, which was coached by McInnis, made it all the way to the championship game before falling to Shattuck-St. Mary’s School, 3-1.
“It made them hungry,” McInnis said. “It was a long trip to Alaska. It was an unbelievable experience. For that team, it was a little bit different in that we were a full-season team, so we had Boldy, Chase and Struble and then Meehan. ... That was great hockey and a great experience and I’m sure that helped them this year in the states and helped them in high school.”
At states in November, the Whalers beat the Little Bruins 3-2 in the opener and downed the Boston Junior Bruins 5-0 and Neponset Valley River Rats 4-0 to close out pool play. In the semifinals, Cape Cod defeated the Boston Junior Eagles 5-2 to send them into the championship game against the Springfield Rifles. The Whalers scored a pair of goals in each of the three periods to pull away for a 6-2 victory.
“That was the best we played all year,” McInnis said. “They were into it and excited. In a short tournament like that, you win your first game and you kind of get some confidence and you get rolling. I think that really helped up.”
It was a well-rounded and balanced tournament for the Whalers, outscoring their opponents 23-6.
“Our goalie played well, our defense played well for us,” McInnis said. “We had timely goals. It was great for us.”
McInnis has run three lines all season with six defensemen. It’s a system that has worked to perfection.
“We move the puck quick; we try for puck possession and a lot of dump-and-chase hockey and try and regroup and come as a five-man unit in a lot of the way hockey’s played now,” McInnis said. “Frankly, this is more of getting the kids ready for high school. And now that high school’s over and a lot of kids had success, now it’s, all right here’s a little bonus, we made the nationals and the kids get real excited to play with each other.”
Forward Gunnar Fountaine leads the team in points with 35 (15 goals, 20 assists). Reilly Moran is the leading goal scorer with 20 to go along with 12 assists. Boston College commit Boldy has 17 goals and 14 assists. Struble, a Northeastern commit, is the team’s defensive leader (5 goals, 11 assists). Matt Lane has been a steady goalie during his time with the Whalers.
Cape Cod has good NHL lineage on the team with coach McInnis’ son, Chase (9 goals, 13 assists); Tony Amonte’s son, Tristan (8 goals, 12 assists); and Kevin Stevens’ son, Ryan (8 goals, 17 assists).
The Whalers are hoping to head into nationals playing like they did four months ago.
“We’re going to go and we’re going to try and win it all,” McInnis said. “If we can get off to a good start and get confidence early, it’s similar to what we did at the states, we’re hopefully as good as anybody there.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
|Youth Tier I (14U)||Scottsdale, Arizona||Arizona Amateur Hockey||April 6-10, 2017|
|Youth Tier I (15-year-olds only)||Scottsdale, Arizona||Arizona Amateur Hockey||April 6-10, 2017|
|Youth Tier I (16U, 18U)||Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania||Pittsburgh Penguins Elite||April 6-10, 2017|
|Girls Tier I||Rochester/Macomb, Michigan||HoneyBaked Hockey Club||April 6-10, 2017|
|Women's A, B, C||Rochester/Macomb, Michigan||HoneyBaked Hockey Club||April 6-9, 2017|
|High School||Cleveland, Ohio||Cleveland Suburban Hockey||March 22-26, 2017|
|Girls Tier II||Troy, Michigan||Troy Youth Hockey Association||April 6-10, 2017|
|Youth Tier II (14U)||Coral Springs, Florida||Florida Panthers Ice Den||April 6-10, 2017|
|Youth Tier II (16U)||Frisco, Texas||Texas Amateur Hockey||April 6-10, 2017|
|Youth Tier II (18U)||Lansing, Michigan||Lansing Hockey Club||April 6-10, 2017|
|Sled||San Jose, California||Sharks Ice||April 6-9, 2017|
|Adult Rec Men's||Wesley Chapel, Florida||Florida Hospital Center Ice||April 20-23, 2017|
|Adult Rec Women's||Ellenton, Florida||Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex||April 27-30, 2017|