GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Games at the Chipotle-USA Hockey Youth Tier I 16U National Championship tournament have 51 minutes of regulation time and the Buffalo Jr. Sabres and Oakland Jr. Grizzlies went down to the final seconds to decide the victor.
After trailing 3-0 entering the third period in yesterday's contest, the Buffalo Jr. Sabres found itself protecting a 3-1 lead entering the third period today. Despite giving up one goal in the third, the Jr. Sabres were able to hang on and secure its first victory of the tournament, a 3-2 final over the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies.
“We felt we dominated the third period yesterday,” said Jr. Sabres head coach Jake Brozyna. “We came back and almost tied that game up and we just wanted to build off that momentum and use it in today’s game. I knew if we played three periods today like we played the third period yesterday, we would have a great game. The positives from yesterday carried over to today and we had a good game.”
After a bit of a feeling out process during the opening 10 minutes of the contest, things began to ramp up in the latter half of the first period. The Jr. Sabres got on the board first, courtesy of Nathan Mann.
Dalton Wright streaked up the right side of the neutral zone and entered the offensive zone before making a power move towards the Grizzlies goal. After using his body to get around the defenseman, Wright fired a shot on net that was stopped by the right pad of Cullen DeYoung, but Mann was waiting on the doorstep to jam home the rebound and give the Jr. Sabres a 1-0 lead with 5:16 remaining in the opening frame.
The two teams traded chances in the final five minutes of the period, but neither team could convert and the Jr. Sabres maintained the 1-0 lead entering the second stanza.
After two penalties were assessed to the Jr. Sabres in the opening minute of the second period, the Jr. Grizzlies had 58 seconds of a 5-on-3 power play. Just under a minute into the 5-on-3, Ethan Straky tied the game for Oakland. Zach Filak gained possession of the puck on the goal line to the right of the Sabres net and fed a cross-seam pass to Straky who fired a shot past Luke Pavicich to tie the game at one.
Six minutes into the period, the Jr. Sabres had a chance to take a 2-1 lead when Matthew Yeager skated in on a breakaway, but his shot rung off the crossbar and the score remained knotted at one.
Shortly after Yeager’s breakaway attempt, the Jr. Sabres broke through and took the lead when Matteo Costantini fired a shot through traffic that deflected off a Jr. Grizzlies defenseman and found its way into the back of the net.
The Jr. Sabres added a third goal before the end of the second period off the stick of Wright at the 14:43 mark. After the puck found its way to the front of the net, Wright was there to roof it over the glove of DeYoung and give the Jr. Sabres a 3-1 lead heading into the third period.
Oakland opened the final stanza with a sense of urgency, applying pressure in the Jr. Sabres zone from the drop of the puck. The Jr. Grizzlies struck at the 4:00 mark of the third period to shrink the deficit to one.
After Brayden Stannard used his speed to get around a defenseman along the left boards, he fed a pass through the crease to Drake Albers who was crashing the net looking for a pass. Albers fired the pass behind Pavicich and brought the Jr. Grizzlies within one with 13 minutes remaining in the contest.
After the two teams traded chances throughout the third period, the Jr. Grizzlies pulled its goalie and gained a sixth skater in hopes of tying the game. As the Jr. Grizzlies continued to fire shots at the net, Austin Robinson came up with a huge blocked shot with just 10 seconds remaining to seal the victory for the Jr. Sabres.
“He’s the type of player that’s always willing to do stuff like that and that’s why he gets important ice time at the end of the game like that,” said Brozyna. “He’s consistently doing things like that at the end of the game.”
The Jr. Sabres victory was the first of the tournament and it will take on the Phoenix Jr. Coyotes on Friday at 3 p.m. ET.
“Getting that first win out of the way feels good, really good,” said Brozyna. “It’s definitely a refreshing feeling. We’ve got to refresh tonight and come back to work tomorrow. We win tomorrow and we keep going. It’s a tough division with some great teams and we’re looking forward to competing tomorrow.”
Seven Whalers recorded multi-point games as Cape Cod took down Honeybaked, 6-2. Bobby Luca scored two goals, while Joseph Kramer, Cody Sealey, Joseph Schubert and Brendan Dumas each recorded one goal and one assist. Zakary Karpa and Frank Tafelski were the goal scorers for Honeybaked.
12 skaters recorded at least one point as Yale defeated the Jr. Ducks, 5-0. Matthew Coronato (0G, 2A), Lucas Mercuri (1G, 1A) and Cole Vallese (0G, 2A) each recorded multi-point games. Owen Millward made 30 saves for the Jr. Ducks.
Matthew Knies led the way with three points (2G, 1A) as the Phoenix Jr. Coyotes took down Pittsburgh Pens Elite, 5-3. Josh Doan (1G, 1A) and Sam Deckhut (1G, 1A) each recorded multi-point games for the Jr. Coyotes. Colby Saganiuk scored a goal and added an assist for Pens Elite.
Kienan Draper scored the game-winning goal as Little Caesars topped Shattuck St. Mary's, 4-3. Travis Shoudy (0G, 2A) and Tanner Kelly (0G, 2A) recorded multi-point games for Little Caesars. Shai Buium, Winter Wallace and Nik Hong scored for Shattuck St. Mary's in the defeat.
Matthew McGowan scored two goals as the St. Louis Blues defeated Team Maryland, 4-2. Jack Boschert made 26 saves on 28 shots for St. Louis, while Hunter Longhi (1G, 1A), Michael Quinn (0G, 2A) and Wesley Carbone (0G, 2A) all recorded multi-point games. Andrew Zheng and Dimitry Kebreau each scored for Team Maryland.
Devin Kaplan scored two goals as the North Jersey Avalanche topped the Chicago Mission, 3-1. Cameron Carroll made 18 saves while facing 19 shots for the Avalanche. Nicholas Urtis scored the lone goal for the Mission.
Redmond Savage scored two goals, including the overtime game-winner as Compuware skated past Sioux Falls, 6-5. Sasha Pastujov recorded five assists for Compuware and Dylan Duke scored a goal and added four assists of his own. Sioux Falls goaltender Nicholas Pineo made 44 saves while Jacob Vockler scored two goals and added an assist.