AMHERST, N.Y. — The Baldwin/River Falls BlackCats had a topsy-turvy path to the 2019 Chipotle-USA Hockey Girls Tier II 16U National Championships title game.
After beating Florida Alliance, 4-1, they lost in overtime to the Jr. Flyers, 3-2. After the teams traded goals in the first and second period and went scoreless in the third, Payton Hanson got the game winner with 20 seconds left in OT.
The BlackCats came back the next day and beat Kensington Valley, 2-1. This put them in the quarterfinal round against the East Coast Wizards. Extra time was needed again, and this time Baldwin/River Falls came out on top, 5-4, with a wild second period.
Baldwin took a 1-0 lead in the first. Then, in the second period alone, they fell behind 3-1, came back to take a 4-3 lead, and then lost that lead. After a scoreless third period, Amber Delong won it in overtime.
Next, they faced Potsdam, a team that does not give up many goals. The BlackCats had no problem after the first period. This time, they fell behind, scored twice, and then it was tied up. But from then on, they scored a pair in each of the remaining periods to win 6-2.
“A lot of forecheck on them,” said Baldwin/River Falls coach Michael Delong. As to how they scored on a stingy defense, Delong said, “We knew we had to get some rebound goals. Their goalie was solid. We were able to get to the net hard.”
No luck, just defense and goaltending for Shamrocks
The champion, Vermont Shamrocks, also lost their second game, 2-1, to the Aspen Leafs. But once they got to the playoffs, two shutout wins (3-0 in the quarterfinals over the Bay State Breakers and 5-0 in the championship over Baldwin/River Falls) bookended a 4-1 victory over the Jr. Flyers to win them the title. Vermont let up just 1.21 goals per game.
“It was bumpy,” Vermont coach Dan French said of the path to the title. “We opened up on a good strong game. The second game, we were flat. We had some negative attitudes, nervousness. But the team rebounded. We played the second-seeded team, Wisconsin [Selects]. The team decided from there they were going to pull together and fight for each other. After that, it was just relentless.”
Those two shutouts allowed Shannon Moran to lead the tournament in that category. She wound up with a .961 save percentage. Naomi Stow (Wisconsin Selects) edged her out with a .962 save percentage. A number of goalies had excellent save percentages.
“All the goalies here are really good,” Delong said. “You got to just keep going to the net and crash the net.”
Potsdam did have the tournament-leading goal scorer in Kennedy Emerson with 10 and points with 11. Lilly Truchon of Vermont led the assists with six.
The BlackCats had the most prolific power play with seven goals, though the Bay State Breakers had a 33.3% power play and did not let up a single power-play goal. Potsdam was Jekyll and Hyde when in the box — they had the worst penalty kill, but they also had the most shorthanded goals with three.
The Jr. Flyers were in two extra period games, and won them both, also defeating Florida Alliance, 2-1. First, they had to tie the game late in the third on a power play goal by Samantha Hughes. It took just 16 seconds to win when Katelyn Reid scored.
The only shootout occurred when East Coast Wizards beat Valley Thunder, 4-3. Abigail Weiss got the clinching shot as East Coast went three for five.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.