AMHERST, N.Y. — Their 19U Monroe County girls team opened up the tournament playing on the edge.
“It’s a territory we’ve been in before,” Monroe coach Dennis DeYoung said. “In the [USA Hockey New York District Tournament] four weeks ago on the same rink, we had a game like that. This rink is a weird one for us. It seems to always be exciting finishes.”
That game was the final game in district pool play against Brewster and gave Monroe the group title. That time, Monroe led 3-0. They changed their goalie to get everyone ready for the knockout rounds. Next thing they knew, they tipped in three third-period goals for the other team, and it was tied. A last-minute goal bailed them out.
At nationals, once again on the Olympic Rink at the Northtown Center in Amherst, overtime could not be avoided. Nor could the shootout.
This time, the opposition, Concord NH Capitals, scored first at 5:07 of the first by Olivia Branch.
That lead held up all the way to 8:20 of the third period when Holly DeYoung tied it up. Later, Monroe hit the post. Then, Concord thought they had the game winner, but a crease violation negated the goal. A wild scramble in the final seconds in the Monroe crease somehow did not produce a goal.
Pressure? Not for Monroe. They are used to it.
“We play about half our games against Tier I teams, and we’ve taken a bunch to the one-goal edge,” DeYoung explained. “We use that experience in two tournaments this year where we won one-goal games in championships and semifinals. I think we’re starting to get comfortable with that, which is sort of every coach's dream. If you can be in pressure situations and still perform.”
A Concord two-on-one shorthanded opportunity in overtime was stopped by Angelique Bennett. Bennett wound up with 42 saves. Mary Jane Peters made 39 saves for Concord.
To the shootout they went. After the first shooters missed, Monroe put in their next three chances (Erin McCarthy, Holly DeYoung and Lian Sydorowicz) while Concord was stopped every time.
Again, Coach DeYoung felt comfortable because of his well-balanced team where anybody can score.
“I walked up and down the bench asking, 'Who feels good today and wants to shoot?'“ he said. “I have a whole bunch of shooters. Most teams would have gone through their five shooters and then started over again. I had a sixth one ready. I was going to keep going. We’re not a superstar kind of team.”
The players like it on the edge as well.
“We don’t actually go for calm,” DeYoung said. “We do the opposite.”
He brings in former Division I players to help coach the team and provide key advice about pressure.
DeYoung explained, “They told us we should come into these type of situations on an excitement scale of one to ten, try to ride a strong seven the whole time. Not crazy exciting, but don’t get down. Just run a strong seven.
“We decided since it’s the national championship, we'll ramp it up one more and ride an eight. We’re going to go strong eight all weekend.”
After the game, the team and DeYoung reveled in another game on the edge. In the locker room for the post game talk, before leaving the players alone, he told the team, “I’m just going to stand here for ten more seconds and feel that eight.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.