Katherine Khramstov scored an unassisted goal 27 seconds into the game and then Ava McNaughton took over as the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite ended the title reign for the MN Green Giants with a 4-2 victory at the 2019 Chipotle-USA Hockey Girls Tier I 14U National Championship.
Addison Murdoch and Bella Vasseur each added a goal and an assist, which was more than enough offense for McNaughton, who stopped 32 of 34 shots sent her way.
“She played big for us today,” said head coach Kate Binnie. “She stayed square to the their shooters and controlled her rebounds and didn’t give up any second chances.”
Madison Kaiser had a goal and an assist to pace the Green Giants, who never really got on track due to early penalty trouble and a stifling Pens’ defense.
“We knew they were beatable. We just knew we couldn’t sit back and let them take it to us. We had to pressure them and take away their time and space,” Binnie said. “I’m very proud of these girls. They really listened and did exactly what we asked of them.”
The Penguins came into the tournament as the fifth-seeded team and seemed to sneak up on the competition, running the table in the preliminary round before shutting out the Chicago Young Americans earlier in the day to advance to the semifinals.
“Today was a very draining day. All these teams had to play two very emotional games,” Binnie said. “I think we used that to our advantage. We knew that the team that came together and played for each other would be the team that would be successful.”
And that was definitely the Pens. This is a team that has been together for most of the year, which gives them an advantage over split-season teams like the Green Giants that haven’t played together since earlier in the season.
“They are a very talented group. They have some great players who have a lot of skill,” Binnie said. “But when it comes right down to it, they are only together for a limited number of games. We have been together for 50 to 60 games over the course of the year. I think you saw that today. We really are a team and we played like it today.”
Little Caesars has two speeds, fast and faster. They showed that today as they jumped on their long-time rivals from the drop of the puck and never let up as the cruised into the championship game with a dominating performance.
Cassie Hall scored 43 seconds into the game as the Little Caesars fast-break offense never took its foot off the game for a full 48 minutes. Elyssa Biederman and Kate Malachino added first-period goals, and then turned things over to Olivia Lumpiesz, who turned aside all 22 shots she faced for the team’s fourth shutout of the tournament.
IRVINE, Calif. – A pair of shutouts and two overtime thrillers kicked off a busy day at Great Point Ice Arena as the 2019 Chipotle-USA Hockey Girls Tier I National Championships kicked into the elimination portion of the tournament.
The Girls 14U tournament got things started with a quartet of exciting quarterfinal matchups that offered a little bit of everything. Ava McNaughton for the Pittsburgh Pens Elite and Ava McIllmurray for Little Caesars continued the trend of excellent goaltending here this week. Through the preliminary round there have been 31 shutouts in the three divisions.
After a few hours of rest and relaxation in the southern California sun, the teams will be back at it later today with a place in tomorrow’s championship game on the line.
MN Green Giants 2, Assabet Valley 1, OT
Kaityn Ronn scored 13 seconds into overtime to keep the defending champs’ title hopes alive. Averi Curran gave Assabet the lead in the first period and Anya Zupkofska looked like she would protect that until Minnesota rallied midway through the third period as Isabelle Goetti blocked a shot at the point and raced the length of the ice before unleashing a high wrist shot for the short-handed equalizer. In the extra session, Assabet couldn’t clear the zone and Ronn skated into the high shot and ripped a wrist shot that caught Zupkofska by surprise. Next up for the Green Giants will be the Pittsburgh Pens Elite.
Pittsburgh Pens Elite 3, Chicago Young Americans 0
Dylan Green and Katherine Khramstov scored first-period goals and Ava McNaughton made them stand up with a 29-save performance to punch the Pens’ ticket to the semifinals. Khramstov added her sixth goal of the tournament for some insurance.
Little Caesars 4, North Shore Vipers 0
Cassie Hall scored a short-handed goal midway through the opening period, which was more than enough for Ava McIllmurray, who only faced 11 shots in a dominating performance. It was the third shutout of the tournament for Little Caesars goaltenders. Hall would complete the hat trick with a goal in the second period and an empty net goal with 1:23 left. Next up for the Detroit-based program will be the Chicago Mission.
Chicago Mission 3, East Coast Wizards 2, OT
Kelly Gorbatenko scored the overtime winner with a power-play goal to cap a comeback for the Chicago Mission. After the Wizards took a 2-0 lead on goals from Juliette Piersol and Lauren Adams, the Mission rallied in the final frame on goals from Callista Chong and Gorbatenko. Special teams told the story in overtime, as the Mission killed off a Wizards power play before cashing in on their own opportunity. Next up for the Mission will be Little Caesars in a clash of the Midwest titans.