SOUTH BEND, Ind. — A full game and overtime wasn’t enough to determine the winners of the 3A division in the 2019 Chipotle-USA Hockey Youth Tier II 14U National Championships.
The final game between the Chesterfield Falcons and the Canton Hockey came down to a shootout after a spirited affair which saw Chesterfield come back from a 2-0 deficit, only to allow Canton to tie the game mere seconds after the Falcons took the lead.
Falcons head coach Eric Ormson expected a tight game between the two teams, despite the fact that the Falcons had defeated the Steel 6-3 in tournament play earlier in the weekend. Throughout the tournament, both teams found themselves occasionally having to come from behind in order to secure victory, so the force with which each team battled wasn’t a surprise.
Canton jumped out to an early lead, with forward Bryan Jones scoring on a breakaway to score the first goal of the game. Forward Rhett Palmer added another goal a little over four minutes later, capitalizing on a turnover in the neutral zone.
Less than 30 seconds later, it was Chesterfield’s turn to score, with a shot from defenseman Tyler Williams finding its way to the back of the net.
The second and third period saw two Falcons goals, with forward Connor McCaffrey tying the game in the second and forward Connor Williamson giving his team the lead at the 4:07 mark in the third.
It was a short-lived lead, however, with the Canton’s Palmer scoring his second of the game 4:25 into the third.
From there, the game turned into a goaltenders’ duel, with Canton’s Drew Piercey and Chesterfield’s Isaac Weatherford stopping every shot they faced both in the remainder of the third period and the entirety of overtime. Both teams certainly had their chances, with goaltenders facing multiple breakaways as regulation time went on.
Play turned more conservative during overtime, though the Falcons had the bulk of the shots. There were several missed opportunities for the Falcons throughout overtime, as players often weren’t able to be positioned for rebounds.
In the end, Weatherford stopped all four shots that he faced in the shootout, with Canton’s players often shooting high and wide. Bryan Jones came the closest to scoring for the Canton, coming in from a wide angle to get Weatherford to move; Jones’ shot rang off the post, but would not go in.
Gus Immken and Williamson each scored for the Falcons; the latter’s eventual game-winner went in blocker-side. Thanks to the play of Weatherford, just two shootout goals were enough.
Ormson was proud of both Weatherford and Justin Bamberger, who split the games for the Falcons, both at the tournament and during regular season play.
“We’ve gotten great performances from [Weatherford] all season,” Ormson said. He fully expected Weatherford to step up in critical moments like overtime and the shootout, and was not disappointed. Weatherford stopped 32 of 34 shots that he faced, ending the game with a .941 save percentage.
In a lengthy game, Ormson kept repeating a familiar mantra to his players: “Win the next shift.” He encouraged the boys to keep focused, rather than thinking too far ahead in the game. The strategy worked, as the Falcons played a calm game to the very end.
For the Chesterfield community, coming home with the championship will be very important, Ormson said. There’s a new rink being built in Chesterfield, with construction slated to wrap up in August 2019, and there’s one thing Ormson is definitely looking forward to: displaying the team’s championship hardware in the new facility.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.