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Youth Tier I 15O Notebook: Semifinal Sunday

By Kyle Huson, 04/07/19, 1:30PM MDT


Little Caesars and the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies Advance to Final

Semifinal 1: Little Caesars 5, Shattuck St. Mary's 0

PLYMOUTH, Mich. – After defeating Buffalo in the quarterfinals, Little Caesars defeated Shattuck St. Mary’s 5-0 to advance to the Youth Tier I 15O Chipotle-USA Hockey National Championship on Monday.  It is the second straight year that Little Caesars will compete for the national title, as they lost to the Buffalo Jr. Sabres a year ago.

Evan Werner got the scoring started for Little Caesars. With the two teams playing four on four, Werner received a pass from Maximus Smolinski, and then fired a slap shot over the glove of Shattuck goalie Austin Zavoda.

Little Caesars improved their lead to two goals on a two-man advantage. Mikita Tarasevich received a pass in the slot and quickly put it in the back of the net. Later in the period, Joshua Adams made it a 3-0 contest with a goal from the left point.

A tip-in goal pushed the Little Caesars lead to 4-0, as William Renfrew deflected a shot in front that snuck through. The final goal was a power play goal scored by Luke Hughes.

Earning the shutout, Zakari Brice stopped all 23 Shattuck St. Mary’s shots he faced. It was the second shutout of the tournament for Little Caesars. After losing their second game of the tournament, Little Caesars has bounced back to outscore their opponents 12-2 over the past three games.

They will face off against a fellow Michigan team, the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies. Puck drop is scheduled for 10 a.m. ET on Monday.

Semifinal 2: Oakland Jr. Grizzlies 4, Chicago Mission 2

PLYMOUTH, Mich. – In a tightly contested matchup, the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies held on to defeat the Chicago Mission 4-2 and advance to the national title game in the Tier I 15O Chipotle-USA Hockey National Championships.

One member of the Jr. Grizzlies that played a big role in the victory on Saturday was Connor Smith. Smith scored the first two goals of the game for Oakland to make it 2-0 after one.

The lead improved to 3-0 on a Brandon Brown power play goal early in the second period. He fired a shot from the point that got past Mission goaltender Nicholas Larrabee.

The Mission would storm back throughout the second period. Jonah Copre scored with eight minutes to go. Simon Motew then scored a buzzer beater of sorts, as the puck crossed the goal line right before the second period horn sounded.

“My message (in between the second and the third period) was that if you would have said eight months ago that we’d be up 3-2 against the Mission with a chance to go to the National Championship game, we would take that all day long,” Head Coach Dwayne Norris said.

His team did not back down, as Owen Bartoszkiewicz stopped every third period shot he faced on the way to a 31 save effort. The game was sealed on a Justin Mexico empty net goal.

“I couldn’t be more proud,” said Norris. “This group has been so resilient and just playing the ultimate team game all the time.”

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