PLANO, Tex. — Sunday’s action in Tier II 16U play of the 2019 Chipotle-USA Hockey Youth National Championships at the Plano StarCenter delivered plenty of drama.
Five games were decided by a single goal, including two in overtime, with three of those winners punching their tickets into Monday morning’s finals.
The Las Vegas Jr. Golden Knights advanced to Monday’s 1A final when Heath Mensch scored off a rebound 7:39 into overtime, giving Vegas a 2-1 win against the Charleston Jr. Stingrays.
“To be honest, we didn’t know anything about [Charleston],” Vegas head coach Todd Owen said. “We knew they had to be pretty good. They hadn’t given up many goals, had a couple of goals on the power play. We started a mission this year and [that] mission is to play in the finals. That’s where we’re going.”
Vegas took the lead when John Purdy II scored just 15 seconds into the game. However, the gritty Stingrays answered thanks to a Jonathan Oriani goal 3:20 into the middle frame.
And the game remained tied for the next 38:18 until Mensch, who had a hat trick and five points for the Jr. Golden Knights earlier in the tournament, scored in overtime to end the game.
“91 [Mensch] said he was going to get the goal. That’s who snuck one in late,” Owen said.
In 3A action earlier on Sunday, the Sylvania (Ohio) North Stars defeated the Littleton Hawks 1-0 in overtime with Nicholas Coward scoring a power-play goal to send Sylvania into an afternoon game against the Cheektowaga (New York) Warriors.
That afternoon tilt saw Cheektowaga edge Sylvania 2-1, advancing to the 3A final, thanks to a shorthanded goal by the Warriors’ Bryson Miller with 9:34 remaining. Cheektowaga was attempting to kill a 5-on-3 power play when Miller capitalized on a Sylvania turnover in the neutral zone and broke free for a breakaway before scoring the eventual game winner.
Also, on Sunday afternoon, the Highland Park (Illinois) Falcons prevailed 2-1 over the Oakland (Michigan) Jr. Grizzlies, advancing to the 3A final, thanks to Tyler Horberg roofing a shot into the top of the Grizzly net from the edge of the left circle with 2:13 remaining in regulation. This game was scoreless through two periods.
On Sunday morning in 2A play, the Dallas Penguins found themselves in a 3-3 contest with the Park City Miners late in the third period. However, the Penguins scored twice in the game’s final two minutes, getting goals from Alexander Hollands and Ethan Chen, an insurance tally with 28 seconds remaining, to prevail 5-3.
“I thought we started out the game very well. We had a 3-1 lead and were doing a lot of good things,” Penguins head coach Jeff Merrett said. “We fell asleep for about five minutes in the second period and they tied it. I told them to just keep playing. We’re doing a lot of good things. Just stick with it.”
It’s all a numbers game
There were eight hat tricks in the tournament, including two from Jaden Blevens of Oakland (Michigan). Eight different players had three or more assists in a game, including a four-assist performance by Peter Flannery-Shutt of the Anchorage North Stars and a five-assist game from Xtreme’s Ethan Abramovich.
Two players, both from the Vegas Jr. Golden Knights, Mensch and Ian Williams, had five-point games. Mensch and Williams both accomplished their noteworthy feats in the same game, an 11-1 win to open the tournament on Thursday. There were also 12 shutouts in the tournament, four recorded by the Highland Park Falcons.
Plano again the place to be for youth hockey
For the second time in three years, the Plano StarCenter hosted Tier II 16U play of the Chipotle-USA Hockey Youth National Championships. The facility also hosted the event in 2017, where the champions included the Dallas Penguins, who call the Plano StarCenter home. The Dallas area also hosted the 2018 Tier I 15-Only championships at the Irving StarCenter across town.
The Plano facility, its staff and volunteers earned high marks from both visiting teams, including players, coaches and parents for their great Texas hospitality during this year’s event.
“Texas was awesome,” Anchorage North Stars head coach Matt Thompson said. “We had a really nice basketball court at our facility we were staying at and the kids were enjoying basketball outside and the summer weather to prepare us for our summer that’s coming up. And the facilities were all so nice. The people in hospitality have all been so great. Everyone’s been very helpful, trainers, people along those lines. I’ve been down here back when I was playing midget hockey and I remember it being the same, awesome facilities, great people. It’s a great place to have a tournament. They have everything you need. I couldn’t say anything better about it.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.