TAYLOR, Mich. – There were three Michigan Amateur Hockey Association state championship celebrations at the Taylor Sportsplex on Sunday, Mar. 10.
All three featured Little Caesars jerseys.
The official AAA hockey program of the Detroit Red Wings won the 14U, 15-Only and 16U MAHA state championships in the final day of the USA Hockey Michigan District Tournament — all in the second game of each best-of-three series.
The 14U team, coached by Brian Felsner, posted a 5-2 victory over Honeybaked to wrap up a championship series that featured a top ranked Little Caesars squad squaring off against Honeybaked.
After recording a 5-3 win in Game 1 the night before, Little Caesars jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period to assume control of the morning battle to wrap things up and secure their spot at the upcoming 2019 Chipotle-USA Hockey Youth Tier I 14U National Championship in Pittsburgh.
“They came and competed all weekend,” Felsner said. “It was a great weekend, and we’re happy to win.”
Tucker Shedd, Nolan Abraham, Michael Mesic, Luke Lisko and Justin Varner all scored in Little Caesars’ well-balanced attack.
“We’re only deep when everybody comes and plays, but yeah, our team is very well put together,” Felsner said. “It’s a fun team to coach.”
Goaltender Trent Boryszcuk took care of business at the other end, backstopping Little Caesars in the final contest.
“It feels great,” the young netminder said. “We have a lot of buds on the other team, so coming out with the win is just amazing. We all just worked hard as a team. We just battled the whole week and came out with the win. It feels great.”
Little Caesars 15-only responds from nail-biter
At the 15-Only level, a Little Caesars squad led by the sons of former NHLers Patrik Stefan and Bryan Smolinski posted a convincing 6-0 victory Sunday, after a 4-3 nail-biter with Honeybaked the previous night.
Mikita Tarasevich scored twice for Little Caesars in the victory, while William Renfrew, William Noll, James Stefan and Luke Hughes also found the back of the net.
“It’s really good, it’s a great win for our team,” said Hughes, youngest brother of recently signed Vancouver Canucks defenseman Quinn and USA Hockey National Team Development Program star Jack. “I think we really just played to our game. We possess the puck a lot and scored where we wanted to score.”
It was the first state championship for this particular Little Caesars group.
“It feels unbelievable,” said defenseman Max Smolinski. “I’ve never won a state championship, so it feels really good. We played as a team, we played the full week, so it feels awesome.”
With the state championship, Little Caesars secured its spot in April’s 2019 Chipotle-USA Hockey Youth Tier I 15-Only National Championship in Plymouth, Mich.
In 16U, Little Caesars wins slugfest series with Compuware
And in the heavyweight division, it was a 16U battle against two different defending state championship clubs. Little Caesars 16U — largely the group that won the 15-Only title last spring — topped a Compuware team whose majority won last year’s 14U state (and national) championship.
After winning Game 1 by a 4-3 final in overtime, Caesars made sure they would be going home early on Sunday by winning 5-2 in Game 2.
“First of all, Compuware, what a heck of a hockey team,” said LC head coach Kris Draper. “Well-coached, high skill — these were two battle games. Yesterday, that’s a tough day, we had a hard semifinal game against the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies, had a four-five hour turnaround against a real good Compuware team. Our first period, we weren’t very good at all. Our goalie Kaidan [Mbereko] made some unbelievable saves, we got down 2-0 and I thought it was one of the gutsiest performances I’ve ever seen from our team. Fighting back and you’re up 3-2 and all of a sudden the credit to Compuware, they tie it up, and we were able to score in overtime and then come in here today for another hard-fought one.
“When you’re up 1-0, you want to do everything you can, you don’t want that third game. Really stressed that to the boys, and they responded with just an unbelievable effort. The boys were fantastic. I’m very proud of this group.”
Garrett Szydlowski scored twice, while Jacob Bauer, Ryan Kirwan and Davis Codd also added goals for Caesars to help secure their team’s spot in April’s 2019 Chipotle-USA Hockey Youth Tier I 16U National Championship in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.