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Youth Tier I 16U Notebook: Semifinal Showdowns

By Chris Krenn, 04/07/19, 2:30PM MDT


Pittsburgh Pens Elite and Yale Jr. Bulldogs Advance to Title Game

Semifinal 1: Pittsburgh Pens Elite 2, St. Louis Blues 1

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – For the second consecutive day, the Pittsburgh Pens Elite scored two goals and walked away from its win or go home matchup victorious.

Brandon Parente and Luka Sukovic scored for Pittsburgh and Aidan Campbell made 43 saves on 44 shots in the victory.

“I thought we stayed with it, said Pittsburgh Pens Elite head coach Brian Mueller. “St. Louis played really hard today. We had a good push in the third and got a really big goal from Sukovic at the end there.”

With 8:52 remaining in the opening period, Parente opened the scoring for Pittsburgh. After making a nice play to hold the puck in at the left point, Cole Oravitz skated along the boards and fed a hard pass to Parente who was parked at the back door to give the Pens Elite a 1-0 lead.

Matthew McGowan tied the game for St. Louis at the 10:37 mark of the opening stanza. After a faceoff win in the offensive zone by the Blues, Jeff Hutchinson fired a shot on goal and McGowan punched home the rebound to even the score.

Pittsburgh scored the eventual game-winning goal at the 8:34 mark of the final period when Sukovic won a battle in front of the net and scored. After a puck was thrown on goal from the corner, Sukovic got to the net and put home the loose puck to give Pittsburgh the lead.

St. Louis pulled its goaltender with 1:28 remaining, but could not convert in the final moments of the game and Pittsburgh walked away with the victory.

“Our goal from the beginning was to play in the last game of the year,” said Mueller. “I’m going to let them enjoy this moment.”

Brandon Parente scores the opening goal of the game to put Pittsburgh up by one.

Semifinal 2: Yale 6, Little Caesars 1

After a convincing 11-3 victory in yesterday’s quarterfinal matchup, the Yale Jr. Bulldogs kept rolling today in the semifinals, defeating Little Caesars, 6-1.

Lucas Mercuri led the way for Yale with two goals and one assist, while Dane Dowiak added two goals of his own in the victory.

“We bought in to playing as a team,” said Yale Jr. Bulldogs head coach Rob Gagnon. “When we play like a team, we’re awfully hard to play against in all aspects from the goalie out. We competed and did the little things that it takes to win.”

Yale got on the board early when Mercuri beat his man and entered the Little Caesars zone on the left side of the ice. Mercuri fed a backhand pass to Zackary Tonelli who fired a one-timer home for the early lead.

The Jr. Bulldogs quickly got expanded its lead just 29 seconds later when Cole Vallese took a pass from Matthew Coronato and ripped a shot into the back of the net.

Anthony Cipollone expanded the lead to three at the 14:41 mark when Mercuri threw a saucer pass to Cipollone on a two-on-one before the Purchase, New York native fired it home.

Yale capitalized first in the second period when Mercuri got in between the dots in the offensive zone and ripped a shot to the far side of the goal for his third point of the contest.

Little Caesars responded 2:11 later when Ryan Kirwan collected the puck at the top of the circles and sent a hard wrist shot into the top right corner of the goal.

However, Yale answered 1:17 after the Little Caesars goal off the stick of Dowiak. Dowiak collected a pass from Aden Hotchkiss and shot a one-timer into the back of the net.

Dowiak added his second goal at the 15:23 mark of the third period with a wrist shot that went off the post and in.

“We’ve got to wipe this away now,” said Gagnon. “At this point, this game is over. We have to regroup, refocus and be ready to go tomorrow.”

Lucas Mercuri gets in between the dots and scores to put Yale up, 4-0.

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