MARLBOROUGH, Mass. — Boston Junior Eagles forwards Ethan Gardula and William Smith and defenseman William Vote swept the top three spots among scoring leaders for the newly minted 14U Tier I champions.
Gardula racked up three hat tricks and 17 points in five games, scoring 12 goals along the way while Smith, a Northeastern commit, added 16 points to the cause on nine goals and seven helpers. Vote concluded his tournament action with three goals and nine points.
Joe Connor (five goals, three assists) and Landan Resendes (five goals, two assists) paced the Minuteman Flames, who fell to the Eagles in the final at the New England Sports Center, 5-2. Michael Nigro topped the Boston Jr. Rangers in offensive output with five scores and a pair of assists. The Neponset River Rats received the bulk of scoring from the duo of Joey Zheng (three goals, two assists) and Cam Russo (two goals, three assists).
Tier II 14U leading scorers
Jack O’Neil (South Shore Kings) followed Tier II 14U leading scorer Sean Leetch’s nine points with five goals and three assists and Ryan Coutts (Bay State Breakers) and East Coast Militia forward Eric Whitelaw both placed among the top eight with six and five points, respectively.
Tournament hat tricks, three in total, came from James Fitzgerald (East Coast Militia), teammate Whitelaw and Emmet Teahan of the Boston Junior Huskies. The Bay State Breakers averaged 6.0 penalty minutes per game while the Boch Blazers checked in with 26 minutes per outing.
Hall of Fame defenseman Brian Leetch, who along with Matt Garzone and Tim Connors comprised head coach Dates Fryberger’s staff, got a closeup look at his son Sean’s tournament performance.
“He’s super skilled, one of the kids we rely on,” Fryberger said. “Obviously he got the right genes.”
Boston Junior Eagles goalies Tyler Bloomfield and Sam Scopa allowed just six goals over the course of the tournament with the former achieving two shutouts in his two starts and Griffin Davis of the Flames finished with a 2.00 GAA in three starts, leading all Tier I 14U netminders.
Tier II 14U title game starters Nik Barnes of the Jr. Eagles and Brandon Silva of the Huskies, both with three starts, finished with 2.00 and 2.75 GAA respectively to lead the group. South Shore Kings goalie Kam Carkner faced the most shots at 76 with Jake Thompson of the Bay State Breakers next at 73.
Five one-goal games played out over the weekend including three in Tier I. The Junior Eagles scored a tournament-high nine goals twice in Tier I while the Bay State Breakers tacked on nine as well in Tier II.
The Tier I winners advanced to the final following a 6-2 victory over the Neponset River Rats. The Junior Eagles received goals from Gardula and Brady Keller in the third, adding to a 3-2 intermission lead. In similar fashion, the Minuteman Flames needed a third period score by Joe Connor to break a 2-2 tie against the Boston Jr. Rangers in a 4-2 win.
“It’s an interesting year at 14U as you get into fall with a full roster and gain all momentum but after Thanksgiving, four of our kids made their high school team and we went through a tough stretch where we were still playing well but we were dressing 10 or 11 and we lost a few lopsided games,” said Fryberger of his team’s resolve. “We didn’t lose many games, but when we did the overall morale dropped somewhat. Once our players returned, it turned the switch for us.”
Youth Tier I
14U: Boston Junior Eagles
15-Only: Cape Cod Whalers
16U: Neponset Valley River Rats
18U: Boston Junior Eagles