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Special Moments Abound at 2017 Tier II 18U National Championships

By Colton Wood, 04/09/17, 9:45PM MDT

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From hotly contested games to teams getting redemption, this year’s tournament brought plenty of exhilarating moments

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- The 2017 USA Hockey Youth Tier II 18U National Championships was held in East Lansing over the weekend. The five-day tournament was home to a brimful of storylines and unforgettable moments.

From closely fought games to national titles won, this year’s national tournament was one that won’t soon be forgotten.

Close Games

In a tournament where there were numerous blowouts and shutouts, there were also hotly contested and closely fought matchups. The national championships featured four overtime games, with three having to be decided in a shootout.

The first came on Friday in the 1A Division.

Two-straight goals to begin the shootout by Kyle Scott and Devin LeBlanc were the winning scores as the Delaware Ducks defeated the Junior Hurricanes, 4-3.

On Saturday, two matchups had to be decided in a shootout.

Withington Zach and Gregory Caturano both scored in the shootout period for the Hamden Dragons in the 3A Division as they were victorious over the Warwick Wildcats, 7-6.

The Dragons finished nationals with a 1-1 record along with notching an overtime victory.

Owen Deardorff was the hero for the Hershey Jr. Bears in the second shootout of the day on Saturday in the 3A Division.

After the New Hampshire Avalanche’s Armando Roberto IV scored the lone shootout goal for the Avalanche, the Bears’ Jake Petras tied the shootout at one.

The Avalanche couldn’t respond, and with a chance to take the lead, Deardorff found the back of the net and his goal was eventually crowned the game-winner as the Bears won, 5-4.

The only game of the four overtime matchups that didn’t go into a shootout occurred on Sunday in the 3A Division.

Tied at 2-2 at the end of regulation, the West Chester Quakers and Team Copper Country headed into overtime.

Team Copper Country later prevailed after a goal by Alex Nordstrom to win, 3-2.

A Family Affair

In March, Red Berenson completed his 33rd and final season behind the bench of the University of Michigan ice hockey team.

The Wolverines’ in-state rival, the Michigan State Spartans, have brought an abundance of narrow victories and intense matchups throughout history, so it was admittedly strange when Blake Berenson, Lansing Spartans defenseman and Red’s grandson, donned his Spartans jersey for the first time.

“I know it kind of felt a little weird putting on a Spartan jersey for the first time, but it’s a team name, so he knows,” Blake said. “But he’s been so special with my hockey experience. I mean [Red] came in before our state championship game and gave these boys a motivational speech and I think that really helped all of us.”

Blake said playing for the Lansing Spartans has been the subject of many jokes between him and his grandfather.

“When I tell everybody that — around [Red’s] staff with everyone — they’re asking me about my hockey and I tell them I play for the Spartans and everything,” he said. “It’s just kind of funny how it works out, but it’s all right.”

Stat Leaders

In the 1A Division, the Junior Hurricanes’ Branden Stephens led the division with 11 points, while his six goals were second in the division.

Kyle Scott, James Stephens and Alec Struelens each had a division-high five assists in the national tournament.

In goal, Owen Roche recorded the highest save percentage amongst divisional netminders.

The Sno-King Jr. Thunderbirds’ goalie logged a save percentage of .948, which was roughly three percent better than any other goalie in the division. Dakota Ohmer finished second saving 91.5 percent of shots that came his way.

As Ohmer and the Junior Hurricanes won a national title, his four-win total was one win higher than Shawn Joneic, who had three.

The Maine Moose ruled the stat sheet in the 2A Division.

The top three goal scorers in the division were each from the Maine Moose and two other Moose were tied for fourth.

Cole Oullette led the way with six goals and Jackson Aldrich and Cody Doyon each had five.

Oullette was also the division's leader in assists with eight and points with 14.

Goalie Derek Fournier managed to save 92.2 percent of shots for a division high save percentage, and his three wins were tied for first in the division.

The Maine Moose scored a tournament-high 76 points, which was 15 points more than the New Hampshire Avalanche who were in second in the division.

Ted Randell, a forward of Team Copper Country, scored a division-high 11 points in the 3A Division.

Randell’s 11 points came from eight goals, which was tied with Jake Blackwell for first.

The Lansing Spartans’ Tim Carpenter notched the highest save percentage in goal of all the divisions with 95.3 percent.

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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2017 USA Hockey National Championship Sites

Division Location Host Dates
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