PLYMOUTH, Mich. – The Phoenix Jr. Coyotes scored six unanswered goals on their way to a 6-1 win over the Neponset Valley River Rats in their first game of the Youth Tier I 15O tournament at the Chipotle-USA Hockey National Championships. David Hymovitch netted two goals while 10 different players recorded points for the Coyotes.
“A number of different guys contributed today, even stuff that doesn’t show up on the scoresheet,” said Phoenix coach Nick Naumenko. “It was a solid team effort.”
Neponset Valley got the scoring started just 1:46 into the first period. Joseph Bennett passed to Coleman Jenkins who was streaking down the middle of the ice. Phoenix goalie Michael Brown made the initial save on Jenkins before Bennett put home the rebound, giving the River Rats a 1-0 lead. Naumenko said that going down a goal early helped wake his team up, and that they responded well.
“They’re 15 years old, so there’s a lot of nerves. It’s the first time here for about 98% of our guys, so I think the first period they needed to get the kinks out and get the nerves out.”
The response came late in the first period. Ty Nash flipped a puck from his own zone all the way to the offensive zone where it was picked up by Logan Morrell. Morrell then dropped it to Matthew Gross who snapped it into the net to tie the game.
The Jr. Coyotes took a 2-1 lead just 27 seconds into the second period. Collecting the puck on his off hand, Arik Altmann snuck past the defense before tucking the puck in on the far side. Caden Butler extended the Phoenix lead to 3-1 when he buried a rebound off of a Connor Sniffin shot.
The lead was pushed the 4-1 after Kaden Majercak capitalized on a River Rats turnover. Stealing the puck at the blue line, Majercak had a breakaway. Pierce stopped the first shot but could not save the rebound chance. Hymovitch scored the final two goals for the Jr. Coyotes, the second being an empty netter to secure the win.
In net, Brown allowed the first goal but stopped everything else that came his way.
“He did exactly what he needed to do to give his team a chance to win,” said Naumenko. “I’m awfully proud of him for his performance.”
Central CT Selects 6, North Jersey Avalance 5 (OT) - Paul DeSaro scored the overtime winner for Central CT in an exciting first game. Copeland Fricker had two goals for the Selects, and Alexey Yarmulnik scored twice for North Jersey.
Buffalo Jr. Sabres 3, Thunder Hockey 0 - Mason LaCivita and Ty Broad each had a goal and an assist in the Jr. Sabres opening win. Gavin Dach netted the third goal, and Trent Kubiak was in net for the shutout.
Oakland Jr. Grizzlies 6, MN Green Giants 2 - Gavin Morrissey scored two goals for Oakland. Connor Smith also scored twice for the Grizzlies, including a shorthanded goal. Henry Bartle and Garrett Schifsky scored the goals for the Green Giants.
Chicago Mission 8, San Jose Jr. Sharks 3 - Jack Devine scored the first two goals of the game for the Mission and added an assist. Davis Burnside collected three points on a goal and two assists. Sanjay Chitturi, Sean Mentzer and Max Abene scored for San Jose.
Shattuck St. Mary's 3, Cape Cod Whalers 1 - Shattuck St. Mary's jumped out to an early lead and held on to beat Cape Cod. Austin Zavoda made 19 saves for the winning club, and Connor Mahony, Ethan Begg and Luca Ricci scored. Christian Monturio netted a late power play goal for the Whalers.
Little Caesars 10, Sioux Falls Power 0 - Griffin Jurecki scored the first hat trick of the tournament and added an assist as the #1 ranked Little Caesars started their tournament off with a 10-0 victory. Mikita Tarasevich and James Stefan each scored twice while Luke Hughes and Evan Werner assisted on two goals. Karsten Senden, William Renfrow, and Sam Volturo were the other goal scorers, and Zakari Brice stopped all of the shots he faced for the shutout.
NJ Rockets 3, Pittsburgh Penguins Elite 2 - Cole Hanan had a hand in all three first period goals for the Rockets, scoring one and assisting on two. Pittsburgh got to within a goal thanks to two Johnny Fratto goalsThe Penguins had one final attempt with just 2 seconds left on the clock and an extra attacker, but Daniel Gerts made an acrobatic save to secure the win.