ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — For a defenseman, Timothy Treadway has been offensive-minded this season. The 16-year-old has reached double figures in goals scored, but none were bigger than the one he scored Sunday afternoon at the Family Sports Center.
His slap shot from the right wing with 3 minutes, 19 seconds left in regulation proved to be the game-winner as the 16U Arizona Junior Coyotes sealed a 4-2 victory over the Dallas Stars Elite in the final of the USA Hockey Rocky Mountain District Youth Tier I Tournament.
“I just shot the puck,” Treadway said. “I was just hoping that it would go in.”
It did more than that. It paved the Coyotes’ way to the 2019 Chipotle-USA Hockey Youth Tier I 16U National Championship, April 3-8 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Forward Matthew Knies, the team’s leading goal scorer, added two goals, including an empty-netter in the final minute, and Tristan Rand also scored for Arizona.
The Coyotes’ success as of late couldn’t have been envisioned at the start of the season, not with Arizona starting the season 8-14, including a 3-2 loss to the Dallas Stars Elite back in October. But 10 wins in 11 games before Christmas turned the tide.
“The first part of the season was really difficult for us. We were not doing very well I would say,” head coach Mike De Angelis said. “But we stayed with it and we tried to stay positive and come together as a group. Eventually we started finding our stride.”
Finding that continuity, De Angelis said, started with the core group of players who qualified for nationals the last two years at the 14U and 15-Only level coming together with this year’s newcomers to see the bigger picture. Those players include the likes of goaltender Kevin King, who was in his first year playing at the Tier I level.
“I’m new to this. These guys have been here for a while,” the 16-year-old Lancaster, New York, native said. “They’ve gone to nationals two years in a row. They’ve done this before. They’ve gone through this. There’s been a lot of ups and downs throughout this season, but we really turned it around. We started to turn it around toward the end of the season and we’ve just been going up from there.”
Since Nov. 16, the Coyotes have strung together a pair of seven-game winning streaks while not losing more than two games in a row. Dallas, which lost to Arizona 5-2 a day earlier in pool play, took an early 1-0 lead when Nathan Butler squeezed a glove-side shot high over King and later tied it up early in the second period. That’s where things stood before Treadway broke the deadlock.
Admittedly, it would’ve been easy for Arizona to lose focus after a dreadful start to the season. The Coyotes were just 2-6 in September and from mid-October to mid-November they dropped seven of nine. But they stayed the course, stayed true to themselves and game by game the pieces started to fall into place.
“We never gave up. We played every game the same. We played consistent and tried to win every game. That’s our mentality,” Knies said. “Luckily, it’s working out for us and we’re going to head to nationals and try to keep that same mentality.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.