SAN JOSE, Calif. — The Maine Moose defeated Arizona’s Mission Red 6-3 Monday to win their third straight Chipotle-USA Hockey National Championship in the 2A division at Solar4America Ice.
“The boys rose to the occasion,” head coach Jeff Ross said.
The Moose lost to Mission Red by one goal earlier in the tournament, but they dominated the championship game. They secured an early lead and didn’t look back.
The scoring started in an unusual way, as Andrew Bertolini scored from behind the net with eight minutes left in the first period. His shot rolled off the goalie’s back into the goal.
“I got a lucky shot on goal and it went in,” Bertolini said after the game. He said he wasn’t necessarily trying to score, but he thought by putting the puck in front of the net something good might happen.
“[Bertolini] did an unbelievable job,” head coach Jeff Ross said.
That first goal was big, “especially after a loss to these guys,” Bertolini said.
Ross used a different group of players for the first shift, after the group he started in the semifinal allowed an early goal.
Just minutes after their first goal, the Moose scored again to go up 2-0. Rece Poulin scored off a rebounded shot.
Joshua Wheeler kept the scoring going for the Moose. After Mission Red goalie Chase Golden tried smothering the puck with his body, it came out from underneath him. This left an open net for Wheeler to put the Moose up 3-0 with the goalie sprawled on the ice.
The Moose scored once again with time winding down in the first on a nice passing display. The defense got it to Michael Deveaux, who skated up the ice alongside teammate Cooper Leland. Deveaux waited patiently for the perfect time to give the puck to Leland, setting him up for an easy shot before the goalie could adjust to the pass. This put the Moose up 4-0 with 8 seconds left in the first.
“We knew this was the last chance for our guys, so we had to win it,” Deveaux said after the game.
Mission Red scored their first goal on a power play with 9:23 left in the second period. Luc Spinasanta assisted Nicolas Coppola to make it 4-1.
The Moose quickly answered, though, with a goal by Joe Clarke with 8:42 left in the second period.
Shortly after this goal, the Moose were called for hooking, and Mission Red scored on a power play once again. Nicholas Weber scored with a hard and close shot, assisted by Jorden Werner with 6:32 left in the second, making it 4-2.
The Moose, however, were not phased. They made sure Mission Red never got any closer in the third period to secure a 6-3 victory.
The Moose improved against Mission Red after watching film of their first game.
“We played a better style game, and we put a better effort in,” Ross said.
The Moose were led by their goalie, Brenden Gasaway, who performed well for them all tournament.
“I got their back, and they got my back,” Gasaway said about his teammates. “I’m proud of my boys.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.