GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Saturday’s Game of the Day was a wild one as the Central Connecticut Selects took down Shattuck-St. Mary’s, 8-6, and earned a spot in Sunday’s semifinals at the Chipotle-USA Hockey Tier I 18U National Championship tournament.
After jumping out to a 6-1 lead, Central Connecticut saw the lead dwindle to just one goal, but held on behind a hat trick performance from Matt Crasa.
“The boys are excited,” said Central Connecticut Selects head coach Chris Uber. “Getting out to that 6-1 lead was big. When it got down towards the end of the game our guys really stuck with it and did a lot of things right”
Central Connecticut jumped out to a lead early in the first period at the 3:10 mark when Crasa scored his first goal of the game on a breakaway. After collecting the puck at center ice, Crasa used his speed to get past the Shattuck defenseman and faked a shot before pulling the puck to his backhand and beating Carson Stokes.
Shattuck-St. Mary’s answered shortly thereafter at the 4:42 mark to tie the game off the stick of Tyler Cooper. After Jayden Price fed a pass to Artem Shlaine, Shlaine saw Cooper waiting at the back door and fed a perfect pass for the easy tap in to tie the game at one.
The two teams continued to trade chances before Central Connecticut struck again at 13:21. Artur Turansky collected the puck in the left corner and found Primo Self waiting in the slot. Self collected the pass and fired a wrist shot to the right side of the goal that beat Stokes and restored the one goal lead for Central Connecticut.
Just 2:57 later, Central Connecticut struck again with Stephen Kyrkostas scoring his first of two goals on the night. After streaking up the right boards, Kyrkostas threw a wrist shot at the net that found its way through a screen and snuck through the five hole of Stokes. With the goal, Kyrkostas gave his team a 3-1 lead heading into the intermission.
“Stephen Kyrkostas was another guy that used his speed to break in and get opportunities,” said Uber. “He picked up a couple goals and had a great game for us tonight.”
Similar to the first period, Crasa opened the scoring early in the second stanza, this time at the 1:22 mark. After a clearing attempt by a Central Connecticut defenseman left the zone, Crasa used his speed to get around a Shattuck defenseman and fly in on a breakaway before pulling the puck to his backhand and beating Stokes to expand the lead to 4-1.
“Matt Crasa did a great job,” said Uber. “He ended up with a hat trick on the night, had a couple of shorthanded goals and a bunch of opportunities. He was playing all situations for us and did a fantastic job with that.”
Kyrkostas used his speed to extend the lead to 5-1 at the 8:50 mark. After the puck was cleared down the left boards, Kyrkostas collected the puck and made a hard cut to the net before tucking it through the five hole of Stokes.
The Selects scored its fifth consecutive goal at the 10:32 mark of the second period off the stick of Joe Santoro to bring the lead to 6-1.
Just as it looked like things were out of reach, Shattuck-St. Mary’s began to storm back.
After a turnover in front of the Central Connecticut net, Matthew Samoskevich collected the puck and ripped a wrist shot to the low left side of the net that got past the outstretched blocker of Dominic Basse to bring the score to 6-2.
Just 29 seconds later, the Selects were whistled for a hooking penalty and Shattuck struck on the power play to shrink the deficit to three. Jackson LaCombe collected the puck at the right point and cut to the middle of the ice. After seemingly everyone on the ice thought a shot was coming, LaCombe fed a slick pass to the right of the net where Shlaine was waiting to fire a one-timer into the back of the net.
Shattuck continued to use the momentum to propel itself forward and scored again at the 14:27 mark, once again off the stick of Shlaine. After collecting the puck near the right boards, Shlaine skated towards the point before turning and firing a backhand shot on goal. The shot snuck through the five hole of Basse and suddenly the score was 6-4.
The Selects answered quickly after the second Shlaine goal as Crasa completed his hat trick. After Alex Kozic, who replaced Stokes after the sixth Central Connecticut goal, made a save with his pad, the rebound came out ot the slot and Crasa was waiting to put it in the back of the net and bring the lead to 7-4.
Prior to the end of the second period, Central Connecticut was whistled for a high sticking penalty and Shattuck would capitalize on the power play at the start of the third period.
After collecting the puck behind the net, LaCombe swiftly dashed through the neutral zone and up the left boards. Using his smooth skating, LaCombe blazed past a defender and ripped a wrist shot to the far side that went past the outstretched glove of Basse, off the post and in. Suddenly, Shattuck was within two, as the score was now 7-5.
After Central Connecticut took two penalties with 22 seconds of each other, Shattuck was presented with 1:38 of 5-on-3 play.
At the 17:50 mark, LaCombe found Brendan Brisson waiting at the bottom of the right circle, who ripped a one-timer into the back of the net to bring the score to 7-6.
Shattuck pulled its goalie in favor of a sixth attacker as time began to dwindle down. After firing a few shots on goal, Ryan Coughlin collected the puck for the Selects and sent a shot the length of the ice and into the empty net to seal a wild game with six seconds remaining.
“We’re going to enjoy this for an hour or two and back to work a little bit later on today,” said Uber. “We know we’ll play one of the New England rivals here tomorrow and everybody will be up for that one. We’re going to enjoy the moment for now, but make sure we’re ready to go tomorrow.”
Cody Hoban scored a goal and added three assists, while Mark D'Agostino (1G, 2A), Alexander Jeffries (0G, 3A), Michael Posma (1G, 2A) and Robert Cronin (2G, 1A) all enjoyed three-point evenings. Phip Waugh and Finn Walker scored the goals for the Jr. Rangers.
Christopher Carroll led the way with two points (1G, 1A) and Tyler Franchi made 32 saves as North Jersey skated past Iowa, 3-1. Iowa goaltender Trent Burnham made 55 saves in the loss and Zachary Frisk scored the lone goal for the Wild.
Josh Waters led the way with three points (1G, 2A), while Tommy Bannister and Reid Leibold each scored two goals as Northwood Prep defeated the Boston Jr. Eagles, 6-3. Jack Cronin, Liam Gorman and Thomas Lyons scored for the Jr. Eagles in the loss.