TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona’s hockey heritage lives within the walls of Oceanside Ice Arena in Tempe.
Built in 1974, it was the desert’s hockey cradle for decades until bigger, fancier facilities opened. Major hockey events gradually gravitated toward the newer buildings, among them the Ice Den in Scottsdale, which was picked to host USA Hockey’s first-ever Youth Tier I 15-year-old national championship game today at 10 a.m. local time.
Venerable old Oceanside sat quietly, 20 miles to the south. That is until a neighborhood power outage left a chunk of Scottsdale blacked out with 1:38 remaining in the second period of Yale’s championship clash with the Colorado Evolution.
With the Ice Den dark, Oceanside stepped back into the desert hockey spotlight, as USA Hockey moved the final 18:38 of its finale south to Tempe. Yale carried a 4-1 lead to the old rink and skated away with a 7-2 triumph.
“Never experienced anything like that,” said Yale forward Nick Capone. “Nothing even close to that. But ice is still ice.”
Capone, from East Haven, Connecticut, answered a quick goal from Arsenii Smekhnov in the continuation at Oceanside and Yale never looked back, adding goals from Anthony VonBrauchitsch and Jake Aloi to hoist the championship hardware. But it was three quick Yale goals to open play that doomed the Evolution. Playing with a sizable early lead and a game plan intent on stopping the high-flying squad from Colorado, Yale kept a third forward high, often on the blue line, to defend the stretch pass-loving Evolution.
“Our goal was to keep pucks low,” said Yale head coach Jon Bellonio. “And I thought we did a pretty good job of clogging up the neutral zone and minimizing the number of odd-man rushes. Our guys made sure they took care of the house.”
The defensive mindset didn’t stop Yale (5-0) from reaching its tournament high in goals-scored or from outshooting Colorado 29-20. And the mid-game trip to Tempe, they took in stride.
“I just told the boys not to focus on the disruption, because we’ve faced adversity all tournament, being in three overtime games,” said Bellonio. “We’ve got a pretty resilient group and we told them to just focus on each individual shift. Plus, we beat Team Wisconsin in this rink, so we had some good luck here.”
Ultimately, Bellonio attributed Yale’s title run to a team-first mentality and a good group of kids. Capone, one of Bellonio’s captains, agreed.
“Everyone wanted it and no one took a shift off,” he said.
Notes: Anthony vonBrauchitsch led Yale's attack, registering the first-ever championship-game hat trick in the new Youth Tier I 15-year-old classification. He finished the game with three goals and one assist. Jonas Passante and Zachary Riccitelli were also frequent visitors to the scoresheet, as both finished with three points. In all, seven players registered at least a point for Yale ... Ilya Usau from the Colorado Evolution finished as the tournament's leading goal scorer (8) and point-getter (14) ... Yale goaltender Henry Wilder led all tournament goalies with five wins.
|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 30-April 3, 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|