A quick start and relentless effort throughout were able to pull Compuware past the Colorado Thunderbirds, 6-4, in day two of play here in Pittsburgh, Pa., to improve the Michigan-based program to 2-0.
Seamus Casey, coming off a five-point effort a day earlier, had another strong performance. Casey opened the scoring just over three minutes into the game, driving wide on a defender and coming across the net mouth before tucking the puck in on his backhand.
Just two minutes later, Colorado’s Reid Conn threw a puck on net from the corner that found its way through Compuware goaltender Gavin Wohlmacher to tie the game at 1-1. It was the theme of the game, as every time Compuware generated pressure, the Thunderbirds flew back into the contest.
Another narrative was Casey’s dominating display. The Estero, Fla., native scored a similar goal to his first midway through the first period, driving wide with a power move to the net. He then assisted on Ryan Abraham’s goal that put Compuware up 3-1 with 4:08 remaining in the first period.
“Today, the first nine minutes, just to watch him, it’s almost like somebody snuck [Phil] Kessel or [Sidney] Crosby out of the locker room,” Compuware head coach Patrick Peake said.
Still, the Thunderbirds stormed back. Luke Schelter chipped in a goal from the crease to cut the lead in half with 2:19 left in the first period.
Then on the power play, Marek Hejduk rang a shot off the crossbar. Colorado maintained possession and the puck found its way back to Marek Hejduk, who this time scored and tied the game up at 3-3 just 38 seconds into the second period.
In any tournament, a team’s ability to overcome adversity is helpful in their plight for a championship, so Peake labeled it encouraging to see his team storm back after surrendering another lead.
“We’ve had a lot of adversity so far here, a couple soft goals and a couple of undisciplined penalties, but the guys were able to recover from it,” Peake said. “So that’s a good sign, a good building sign for us.”
Compuware struck on the power play with 10:47 remaining in the middle frame off an odd-man rush, as Gavin Hayes found Zion Gereen. A few minutes after that, Max Namestnikov fired the puck past Thunderbirds goaltender Caleb Allen on a wrist shot coming down the off wing.
Schelter, who finished with three points, again cut the lead in half, pushing the score to 5-4, 39 seconds into the third period. The third period was a tight contest, although a few Colorado penalties limited their attacking ability before Compuware’s Owen Baker registered an empty net goal from his own blue line.
The final shot total was 30-15, as Compuware’s Wohlmacher finished with four saves and Michael Colarossi saved seven, picking up the win in relief. Caleb Allen stopped 24 shots for the Thunderbirds, who fell to 0-2-0.
Compuware will face off against the Buffalo Jr Sabres tomorrow for pool supremacy to close preliminary play, while Colorado will take on the South Shore Kings.
For Compuware, their 2-0 start is encouraging and they’re looking forward to the playoff round and hopefully making a run at a National Championship.
What could prove to be the difference of that dream becoming a reality or a remote vision?
“I think our discipline,” Peake said. “When they want to buy in and choose to play the right way, we’re as good as anybody, and they know that. I think we’ve beat everybody this year at one point or another. It’s just a matter of the consistency and choosing to do the right thing for your teammates.”
The Alliance bursted out to a 3-0 lead, only for the Blues to answer with three 2nd period goals of their own to tie the game. However, it was Jaxon Wilson's short-handed goal late in the middle frame that proved to be the difference. Anthony Kahl had two goals for the Alliance and Blake Andreoni had another. Jack Larrigan, Kelly Coldwater and Alex Fendler scored for the Blues. Jacob Fowler made 10 saves in the win while Ben Behrens stopped 24 shots for St. Louis.
Rutger McGroarty had three points and Nathan Lewis chipped in two as Honeybaked took down Valley Forge. Peter Forgione opened the scoring followed by Lewis and McGroarty's pair. Andrew Centrella had a late power-play goal for the Minutemen. Rocco Stolz had 16 saves in the win while the Minutemen's Primo Baldassarre stopped 20 shots.
Zachary Cline and Justin Varner each had four points, including two goals a piece, while Michael Mesic also added a pair as Little Caesars improved to 2-0. Benjamin Catlin, Nolan Abraham, Spencer Sova and Frank Nazar also scored, with Tucker Shedd picking up three helpers. Trent Boryszcuk had a 23-save shutout for the Detroit-based group. Alex Koenig made six saves and Aidan Comeau stopped seven shots for the Ducks.
The Jr Rangers had a third period surge, producing three goals courtesy of Nicholas Capasso, James Shannon and Jake Manfre to come back and win after Sioux Falls' Zach Vockler opened the scoring. Kamdon Carlson had an outstanding game for the Power, making 44 saves. Richard Holohan made eight stops for Mid Fairfield.
Tied 1-1 through two periods after a Kings goal scored by Michael Callow and Sabres tally by Ryan Conmy, the teams exchanged goals once again, with Buffalo's Patrick Geary scoring followed by South Shore's Grayson Badger early in the final frame. That's when Buffalo rattled off three goals to take a commanding lead, with Alex Zakrzewski and Quentin Musty scoring ahead of an empty-net goal by Brody Seitz. Austin McNicholas made 21 saves, recording the win for the Sabres while Brandan Flanagan turned aside 21 shots for the Kings.
Issac Howard had a pair of goals and an assist, while Braedon Ford, Turner Richards and Ryan Comishock also scored for Shattuck as they took down the Mission. Christian Manz collected a shutout with a 14-save effort, while Lucas Szyszka made 31 saves for Chicago.
The Pens stormed out to a 4-0 lead thanks to two-goal showings from Lucas Ross and Alex Ondos. Matthew DiMarsico and Evan Konyen each had three points and Noah Eyre and Colton Mauser also scored to lead the host Pittsburgh squad. Gabe Ludwig and Peyton Vanbuskirk scored for the North Stars, with Mason Brooks making 27 saves for Alaska. Paul Potosnak stopped 19 shots for Pens Elite in the win.