GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Two teams that met during the regular season, the St. Louis Blues and Shattuck St. Mary’s were anxious to face each other on the big stage here at the Chipotle-USA Hockey Tier I 16U National Championship tournament.
A back-and-forth affair with plenty of skill, the game of the day did not disappoint from an excitement standpoint as the Blues opened tournament play with a 4-2 victory over Shattuck St. Mary’s here at Southside Ice Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich.
The first period began with plenty of pace as both teams traded chances on opposite ends of the ice. The excitement of playing for the chance at a national championship was evident as energy levels were high from both teams.
Just prior to the five-minute mark of the first period, Blues defenseman Bryan Gund fired a shot on net that was followed up by Caden Brown, who beat Marino Ramirez for the opening goal of the game.
“That gave us confidence,” said Blues head coach Jeff Brown. “We’ve been playing well, but struggling to score goals. Scoring early like that was really good for the bench. It really got the guys up and we carried it through the whole game.”
Following the opening goal, Hunter Longhi collected a pass and skated in alone on a breakaway, but Ramirez stood tall in the crease to keep the deficit at one for Shattuck.
After successfully killing off a tripping penalty, Shattuck used the momentum gained to tie the game at one.
After making a nice move to gain entry into the offensive zone, Peter Reynolds gained position in the low slot before firing a one-timer over the glove of Mitchell Day to even the score at one just before the end of the opening stanza.
The Blues opened the second period with energy and intensity, generating a great scoring chance just 15 seconds into the period. Jake Keller fed a cross-crease pass to Ben Doran, but Ramirez was there to make a big save for Shattuck and keep the score tied at one.
Doran would get another quality chance just 36 seconds later when the Blues entered the offensive zone on a 2-on-1. Riley Howse fed a pass across the slot and Doran fired it home before Ramirez could slide across the crease.
With 10 minutes remaining in the period, the Blues got another quality chance on an odd-man rush. After a Blues player collected a pass in the slot on his backhand, he quickly cut across the crease in an attempt to tuck the puck home on his forehand, but Ramirez stuck with the play, making a huge save with the right pad to keep the deficit at one.
The Blues continued to push the pace and streaked in on a 3-on-1 when Doran attempted to feed a pass through the slot that deflected off a Shattuck defender and past Ramirez to increase the Blues lead to two with 1:40 remaining in the second.
“They were taking some chances and we were taking advantage of it,” said Brown. “We were good defensively for the most part and we turned those chances into a couple goals which were the difference in the game.”
Shattuck opened the third period with a sense of urgency and capitalized just 44 seconds into the stanza.
Reynolds fed a pass across the crease and Peter Lajoy was there to tip the puck into the top corner and shrink the deficit to one for Shattuck.
After some back-and-forth action throughout the period, the Blues scored at the 9:30 mark to restore its two-goal lead. Brown collected a rebound and ripped a backhander top shelf for his second goal of the contest.
As the period began winding down, Shattuck pulled its goaltender and gained a sixth attacker. As shots were fired toward the net, Blues players continued to lay down and sacrifice their bodies with some key blocks.
“As a former player, that’s the stuff you miss the most—the guys sacrificing and doing everything it takes to win the hockey game.” said Brown. “Our guys did that. They blocked shots. There was no fear. They battled to get pucks out and get pucks in. You’ve got to play with desperation and our guys did.”
When Shattuck was able to get shots through, Day stood tall in net for the Blues, turning away the remaining shots to secure a 4-2 victory for his club.
“He’s been solid for us all year and I wouldn’t expect anything different from him,” said Brown. “He’s a very good goalie and he showed it again today. The game featured two pretty evenly matched teams and we were fortunate enough to get the win. Our guys earned it.”
The Jr. Grizzles scored late in the third period to tie the game at three and Owen Michaels scored the game-winning goal in overtime. Phoenix's Nicholas Smith opened the scoring with 28 seconds remaining in the first period with Mathew Knies and Jake Alcaraz picking up assists. The Jr. Grizzlies answered at the 11:03 mark when Jaden Grant evened the score at one. Drake Albers and Viktor Nikonov picked up the helpers on Grant's first goal of the tournament. A four-goal third period started quickly when Sam Deckhut scored at the 43 second mark for the Jr. Coyotes with Knies picking up the lone helper. Phoenix scored again at the 4:34 mark of the third period to go up 3-1 when Tristan Rand picked up his first goal of the tournament off an assist from Riley Stuart. The Jr. Grizzlies answered just 2:22 later when Nikonov scored on the power play with Grant picking up the only assist. Ben Steeves tied the game for the Grizzlies with 4:47 remaining in the contest with Zach Filak tallying his first assist of the tournament. Filak collected his second assist shortly after when Owen Michaels scored the game-winning goal in overtime for the Grizzlies. Filak and Dominic James collected the helpers as the Jr. Grizzlies won its first contest of the tournament.
Pittsburgh got off to a hot start at the Chipotle-USA Hockey Tier I 16U National Championship tournament when Cole Oravitz scored just 13 seconds into the contest with Alex Servagno and Brandon Parente picking up the assists. Servagno and Parente went on to collect three points in the contest. Servagno's first goal came at the 11:18 mark of the first period with Cole Oravitz and Parente collecting assists, while his second tally came at the 15:34 mark of the second period with Austin Oravetz and Parente assisting on the goal. The Jr. Sabres pushed back in the third period with Austin Robinson scoring at the 8:26 mark off an assist from Dalton Wright. Michael Bevilacqua brought the Jr. Sabres to within one at the 14:48 mark with David Bunn and Tyler Procious picking up assists. However, Pittsburgh held onto the one goal lead and walked away with its first victory of the tournament.
Little Caesars picked up its first win of the tournament with Carter Mazur recording a three-point game. Mazur opened the scoring for Little Caesars at the 3:12 mark before assisting on Garrett Szydlowski's goal at the 12:30 mark. Tanner Kelly also picked up an assist on the Szydlowski goal. Little Caesars got off to a fast start to begin the second period when Mazur scored his second goal of the game at the 1:24 mark. Kelly picked up the primary assist while Jacob Bauer collected the secondary helper. Team Maryland got on the board at the 11 minute mark of the second period when Alexander Maner scored off an assist from Patrick Fitzgerald. However, Little Caesars answered just two minutes later when Tiernan Shoudy scored off assists from Travis Shoudy and Carter Rohman. Tiernan Shoudy added his second goal of the contest just 33 seconds later with Davis Codd and Grant Hindman collecting the helpers to seal the 5-1 victory.
Kyle Smolen led the way with four points (1G, 3A) as the Chicago Mission defeated the Sioux Falls Power, 10-2. Max Itagaki, Cole Schneider, Nicholas Urtis, Jack Horbach (2G), Sean Matthews, Kyle Aucoin, Luke Weilandt, Anton Sorenson and Smolen all scored for the Mission, while Matthew Odonnell made nine saves. Connor Willard and Marcus Miller scored for the Power.
Jeremy Wilmer recorded three points (1G, 2A) as the North Jersey Avalanche took down Compuware, 4-3. Devin Kaplan scored two goals for the Avalanche and Anthony Calafiore picked up a goal of his own. Cameron Carroll made 27 saves on 30 shots for the Avs. Sasha Pastujov, Braiden Fischer and Jackson Truchan all scored for Compuware while goaltender Luca Di Pasquo made 41 saves.
Ian Moore scored twice for the Cape Cod Whalers as his team defeated the Anaheim Jr. Ducks, 3-2. William Tripp was the other goal scorer for the Whalers while Christian Demers recorded 16 saves. Jackson Ferry and Logan Gallaher each scored once for the Jr. Ducks.
Anthony Cipollone recorded a hat trick and collected an assist as Yale defeated Honeybaked, 5-3. Christian Jiminez picked up three asissts for Yale, while Jacob Quillan and Lucas Mercuri also scored. Cutter Gauthier, Connor Garcia and Parker Bolda all scored for Honeybaked.